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Developer Settles Santa Monica Village Trailer Park Lawsuit for $2 Million

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and MarkHarding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

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By Jason Islas
Lookout reporter

March 10, 2014 -- The owners of one of Santa Monica’s two remaining trailer parks have settled a lawsuit with its remaining tenants with a $2 million payout, The Lookout has learned.

According to court documents obtained by The Lookout, Millennium Santa Monica, LLC, agreed in February to pay about three dozen of Village Trailer Park’s current resident to end litigation at the site where it recently got permission to build a 377-unit mixed-use residential development.

The City Council approved the project last March, after a seven-year negotiation process, Village Trailer Park resident Calvin Normore, a UCLA professor, filed a suit challenging the State-mandated environmental impact report the developer filed for the project.

“The Settlement agreement offers all or nearly all of us benefits in addition to whatever we would have under the Development Agreement (DA) in return for dismissing the lawsuit,” Normore wrote in a letter to his neighbors on February 28.

As part of the DA, Luzzatto and his partners included the option of buying residents new trailers and paying to install them at the nearby Mountain View Trailer Park, or offering for their trailers.

The settlement comes about four months after Marc Luzzatto, the park’s co-owner, brought aboard Houston-based The Dinerstein Companies to help finance the project. (“’Green’ Developer Could Be Partner in Santa Monica’s Village Trailer Park Development,” December 16, 2013)

While Normore wrote in his letter that the settlement is with him, the benefits are also available to the 37 other households currently living at the trailer park.

“The benefits obtained include sums of money for those who (in various ways) will leave the Park altogether and a path to preserving the Micropark,” he said, referring to a small parcel of the property that will be maintained as a trailer park with room for up to 10 trailers.

Normore’s lawsuit was one of the last remaining obstacles for the developers to move forward with the project, which has been in the works since 2006 when Luzzatto and his partners announced they wanted to close the trailer park.

City officials negotiated with Luzzatto to keep the park open for the duration of the DA negotiation process.

In November 2012, the Council approved the project with a 4-to-2.
But in December 2012, once two newly-elected Council members -- former Planning Commissioner Ted Winterer and Tony Vazquez, both considered to be advocates of slow growth -- took their seats, Council member Kevin McKeown, a long-time opponent of closing the park, decided that the Council should take another look at the DA.

The new Council voted to rescind approval of the project and Luzzatto launched a $60 million lawsuit claiming the City didn’t uphold its end of the bargain. (“Developer to File Lawsuit Over Santa Monica Council Trailer Park Decision,” January 8, 2013)

The matter was settled out of court and in March 2013, the Council approved a revised DA. (“Santa Monica Trailer Park Development Approved,” March 21)

Luzzatto and his partners were unavailable for comment as of press time.

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