Attorneys for Glendale Unified School District on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against a developer who has not paid school improvement fees levied by the district.
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court against Ronald Levine Construction & Investment Corp., a Beverly Hills developer, seeks recovery of a $63,051 developer fee plus interest. The suit also seeks at least $300,000 in punitive damages.
California law allows school districts to impose fees on new homes and commercial developments to pay for construction and renovation of school buildings.
The dispute with Levine Construction began in August when the developer first failed to pay fees levied against a 40-unit apartment building under construction in the 2600 block of Canada Boulevard in Glendale.
Max Halfon, attorney for the company, has contended that the apartment is exempt from the developer fee law because it did not require a special review by the city.
But school district officials and attorneys representing the district disagree.
"The district believes that the fee is proper and legal under state law," district spokesman Vic Pallos said.
"This project is no different than hundreds of similar projects that have been completed in the community for which developer fees have been paid," he added.
The 1987 state law allows districts to levy up to $1.50 a square foot on newly built houses and up to 25 cents a square foot on commercial developments.
Usually, a builder will pay the fee before receiving a certificate of compliance from the school district.
Once that document is issued and the project meets all codes, the city is required to issue a building permit.
But the Levine Construction case is complicated because the district granted the certificate of compliance without payment a year ago, with only a promise of payment in 60 days.
The developer was having financial problems and needed more time to make the payment, district officials said.
Since the law was enacted in April, 1987, officials said the district has taken in more than $1.2 million.
Levine Construction is the first firm that has not paid its fee.