The Glendale City Council this week rejected a request by school district officials to suspend the building permit of a developer who has not paid mandated fees for school improvement.
Council members voted 3 to 2 Tuesday against suspending the permit after seeking advice from Glendale City Atty. Frank R. Manzano.
School officials sought help from the city after a Beverly Hills construction company refused to pay the district more than $63,000 in developer fees.
California law allows school districts to impose such fees on new residences and commercial developments in order to pay for construction and renovation of school buildings.
'Not Our Problem'
"This matter is not our problem," Councilman John F. Day said. "The school district created their own problem and it is my belief that the school district not only should not come to us, but they should not even ask council to do what they're asking us to do."
After Tuesday's vote, Ronald N. Fisher, the school district's attorney, said it is "very likely" the district will file a lawsuit against the construction company.
The fees were assessed against the developer's 41-unit apartment building under construction in the 2600 block of Canada Boulevard in Glendale.
The developer, Ronald Levine Construction & Investment Corp., initially agreed to pay the fee and deposited the money in a bank account. However, the district was unable to collect the money because the certificate of deposit was in the builder's name, Fisher said.
He said district officials did not notice the discrepancy.
Max Halfon, attorney for the construction company, said when the mix-up became apparent, he advised his client not to pay the fee. Halfon contends that the $2.5-million project is exempt from the developer fee law because it did not require a special review of plans by the city.
"We unequivocally promised to pay in an agreement that was presented to us . . . at a time when my client was mistakenly under the impression that he was required to make the payment," Halfon told the council.
Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg and Mayor Carl W. Raggio, who voted for suspension of the permit, said they questioned the builder's ethics and believe that he never intended to pay the money.
"It was apparent to me from the very beginning that Mr. Levine was attempting to circumvent this law," Bremberg said during the council meeting.
In a hearing on the issue two weeks ago, Fisher told council members that he was seeking the city's help in order to save the district legal costs. Fisher said that if the council suspended the permit, the school district could immediately recover the developer fee, even if the developer filed a lawsuit.