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Council Agrees to Settle Suit Over Public Pool

May 11, 2000

SUN VALLEY — The Los Angeles City Council has agreed to pay $427,000 to settle a lawsuit by the construction firm that rebuilt the Sun Valley public swimming pool, alleging the city and its architect were responsible for design problems and cost overruns.

Councilman Joel Wachs voted against the settlement, blasting fellow mayoral candidates James K. Hahn, the city attorney, and Steve Soboroff, president of the Recreation and Parks Commission, for releasing the architect from liability.

"It was completely irresponsible to let the architect off the hook," Wachs said. "It is costing the city now $427,000."

Southwest Engineering claimed that it suffered $1.1 million in damages because of delays and disruptions to the project.

The city dismissed a private architectural firm, Architrave, from the project in 1995 after problems, including design flaws, resulted in 112 change orders, more than a year's delay and an increase of $337,000 in the project's cost.

But in dismissing the architect, Soboroff and a representative of City Atty. Hahn signed an agreement releasing the firm from liability.

A confidential report by Hahn to the council recommended settlement, citing the many documents by city staff that criticized the architect and design, as well as the release agreement that made the city solely responsible for design problems.

Soboroff said the parks panel approved the release of the architect's liability as part of a settlement agreement recommended by the city attorney. Hahn declined to respond to Wachs' criticism. The council approved the settlement Tuesday.

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