The county and its controversial plan to sell long-term leases on 600 apartments at Marina City Club have won a major victory in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Judge Warren Deering on Tuesday ruled that the county "in all respects" complied with legal requirements for providing proper notice and fair opportunity for public comment. He also ruled that the Board of Supervisors "acted upon substantial evidence" in approving the plan Oct. 7.
Marina del Rey Residents Assn., in a lawsuit filed Oct. 21, claimed that tenants were not given a fair chance to prepare their opposition to the plan before supervisors adopted it.
Residents asked the court to set aside the board's decision and to grant tenants 45 days to prepare for a new hearing.
In his nine-page ruling, Deering reviewed the chronology of public hearings and meetings dating back to 1980 and concluded that tenants, contrary to their claims, were given proper notice and fair hearing by the county.
He ruled that tenants have "no protectable property right" entitling them to the renewal of their current short-term subleases. For tenants to think they have a right to live indefinitely at Marina City Club amounts to "nothing greater than a unilateral expectancy," he said.
Deering chastised the residents, saying that if they were not prepared to fight the plan when it came before the Board of Supervisors this fall, it was because of "their own lack of diligence in failing to make a full examination of various documents that were publicly available for their inspection over a period of many weeks, if not months."
Developer J. H. Snyder said Tuesday that Deering's ruling clears the way for the sale of the 81-year leases, priced from $85,000 for a single unit to $725,000 for a four-bedroom penthouse.
'People Are Buying'
"Some of the people who were complaining (about the plan) are buying now, just as I thought they would," he said.
Tenants have first priority on the sale of the leases, and no public offers will be accepted until all tenants have had an opportunity to buy, he said.
The J. H. Snyder Co. officially took over the Marina City Club lease from Marina del Rey Properties Ltd. on Tuesday, and about 50 residents already have indicated they want to buy the long-term leases, Snyder said.
The Board of Supervisors approved the long-term leasing plan as a way of raising an estimated $1.4 billion in revenues for the county over the 81-year period of the leases. The money would benefit taxpayers countywide, officials said.
Residents said in their lawsuit that the plan will provide substantially less than the $1.4 billion projected because the lease sales may fall flat. Buyers will be wary of making such a big investment with no guarantee that the mortgage interest costs will be tax-deductible, they said.
Tenants said that the new form of long-term tenancy, paid in advance, is so costly that hundreds will be forced out of their apartments.
Stuart M. Rice, attorney for Marina City Club Residents Assn., said he and co-counsel Robert J. Steele will have to consult with their clients to find out if they wish to appeal Deering's decision.