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'Dirty Pool' Claimed in Bid to Seize Egan Muffler Shop

February 05, 1987|GEORGE STEIN | Times Staff Writer

TORRANCE — An attorney representing former Carson Councilman Walter J. (Jake) Egan has accused Torrance of playing "dirty pool" for threatening condemnation of Egan's muffler shop after agreeing in a 1984 legal settlement that he could keep it.

City Atty. Stanley E. Remelmeyer, however, said the city was within its rights because the City Council, acting as the Redevelopment Agency, agreed to exempt Egan's property only for redevelopment purposes. The current acquisition effort seeks the property to straighten Torrance Boulevard.

"For the agency to give up its right to take Jake's property for the redevelopment project is a very different thing from the city giving up its rights for all time to straighten Torrance Boulevard," Remelmeyer said.

But Charles V. Berwanger, Egan's attorney, said that street straightening was the original reason cited in the redevelopment plan for acquiring Egan's property and that the timing of the city's move indicates that the city's rationale is a subterfuge.

"It looks to me like the (redevelopment) agency is taking off its agency hat and putting on its city hat. That has the aspect of dirty pool to me," he said.

Location Described

Aable Muffler Center, which sits on a 3,510-square-foot parcel at 1889 Torrance Blvd., is one of the last businesses to escape demolition in the redevelopment area. An employee said the muffler shop has operated there for 18 years.

Egan sued to be exempt from city plans to acquire his muffler shop as part of the city's industrial redevelopment plans and he and the city reached a settlement in 1984 that permitted him to retain his property and his muffler shop. In addition, the city reimbursed his legal costs, which were about $27,000, according to Berwanger.

Telling why the city settled with Egan in 1984, planner Michael Bihn said, "He had a lawsuit that would slow down the whole (redevelopment) process."

Egan is now in federal prison serving a one-year sentence for political corruption involving mail fraud and extortion.

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