WESTMINSTER — An attorney for a wetlands preservation group is demanding the cancellation of a closed-door City Council meeting Monday to discuss the possible sale of water for a housing development at Bolsa Chica in neighboring Huntington Beach.
Debbie Cook, attorney for the Bolsa Chica Land Trust, said she believes the council's meeting would violate the state's Brown Act, which requires public agencies to conduct business openly, as well as prevent citizens from attending.
"What are they hiding?" Cook said. "If it's open to the public, then people have a better chance to scrutinize the plan and give input."
The Bolsa Chica Land Trust is one of several wetlands preservation groups in Huntington Beach, and its members closely follow issues related to the Bolsa Chica's development.
Westminster City Atty. Richard D. Jones was not available for comment on the issue. However, City Clerk Mary Lou Morey and Mayor Frank Fry Jr. said Jones reviewed the meeting agenda and concluded that it was legal because the subject involves property negotiations, an exception to the Brown Act.
Cook questioned Jones' opinion, saying that the planned discussion does not involve the purchase of land, so therefore the meeting should be open to the public.
The Koll Real Estate Group has been meeting with cities, including Huntington Beach, to secure water for its development of up to 1,235 homes on the mesa near the Bolsa Chica wetlands.
Fry said he has not taken a position on whether Westminster should sell water to the developer.
"I'm not sure whether it's a good [deal] or not, but as I understand it, there might be some pluses in it for us," Fry said. "If the positives outweigh the negatives, then it's a good deal."
The council will meet at 3 p.m. Monday at 8200 Westminster Blvd.