Landowners sue HMB, saying Oak Avenue Park is on their property

Posted by on Fri, June 20, 2008

A homeowners’ association is suing Half Moon Bay for $1 million, saying that the construciton of the Oak Avenue Park is taking place on their property, reports the County Times. [Google Map]

The lawsuit claims that the Cypress-by-the-Sea Homeowners Association and the owners of eight condominiums were not informed of public hearings on the park’s construction and were not aware that the city’s development of Oak Avenue’s north side would stretch west into what they consider their property.

Though the city declares ownership of the land, the lawsuit claims that the plaintiffs have been paying property taxes on 100 percent of the land. "At no time since March 1976 have the records at the Tax Assessor’s Office shown that (the city) has any ownership interest whatever in the property," the lawsuit alleges. "There is no assessor’s parcel in (the city’s) name."

In 2004, the city began acquiring parcels of land 200 yards east of the property on the north side of the street through threat of condemnation, according to the lawsuit. That land was used for the construction of a footbridge across Pilarcitos Creek to Strawflower Shopping Center.

Steve Wilson, an attorney with Tobin and Tobin, the law firm representing the homeowners, said public hearings on the construction of Oak Park began that year, but his clients were not fully aware of the discussions.

When the finalization of the purchase of the Hippoli parcel on Oak Street came before the Council (late 2004, I think) we were all congratulatory to staff, the state, and the selling party - the Hippoli family. I commented to staff that they should talk to the neighboring condominium owners about purchasing the parcel to the west of the Hippoli parcel because it was my understanding that they would be quite reasonable about it.

Months later, I heard from the Homeowners that the City was asserting ownership of the Homeowners’ parcel. I went into City Hall and was shown a map that indicated City ownership of the Homeowners’ parcel. I was perplexed about that, but a map is a map.

Months later, I was told that the City didn’t actually own it but had easement rights. I wanted to agendize it but staff said it was a legal matter not ready for agendization yet. The matter was never agendized - open or closed session - during my term on the Council.

When I attended the opening ceremonies for the Oak Street Park (2007?)  I was saddened to hear that the City had never purchased the land but had asserted easement rights instead. I don’t know why such aggressiveness was focused on the Homeowners. I don’t know why the issue was kept away from the Council.

This appears to be the case where city staff was wagging the Council’s tail by not allowing the Council to discuss this in open or closed session. Does the Council or city staff control how the city functions?

At first blush, this appears quite typical. Mike pulls another bone head move and now ducks & covers. Oh, I’m sure it was staff’s fault. That has always been his standard fare. ‘Staff wouldn’t let me ..’, yet he hired the staff. Mr. Control didn’t have control? Fat Chance of that.
Let’s start with the City Manager Debra Ryan (at the time); way over her head in that capacity. I wonder why we don’t see her fingerprints on this. Oh, I know, ‘I’ll get back to you on this’.
Next, we had Jack Liebster, the Planning Director with Zero planning experience; but over 30 years with the coastal commission.
Follow that with the Police Chief, now also gone, who the head hunting firm wouldn’t even place in the candidate pool, and who flunked 4 of 4 steps in the hiring process, but Mike hired him anyway.
What about the quid pro quo with grady?
How about my bud Lindgren, also gone but not soon enough. I wonder where his input on this was.
No need to continue. The pattern is clear as a bell.
With mike, it’s always been about control. Hiring people clearly unqualified affords him more control.
And the cost? $41 Million for starters, but we’re a long way from Kansas, aren’t we Toto?

I forgot to add one more thing that I overlooked, but should be stated:
As with Beachwood, this Council inherited the mess, has had ample opportunity to remedy and hasn’t. Yes, I’d agree; this Council has culpability too.

With George it’s all about smear.

Muteff seems to be awestruck with Ferreira, ascribing all kinds of Svengali-like powers to him.

But is anyone else asking what that has to do with the landowners and Oak Avenue Park? Presumably there are facts somewhere chronicling the status and handling of the property to the present.

Yeah, there’s a chronicle alright, Carl. A 19 pager, stamped received Wednesday, June 18, 2008, E-Filed and signed by the Clerk of the Superior Court. It’s called the Complaint.
Awestruck? No, I think we can find a better word than that. I’ll pull a Ryan here; I’ll get back to you on that.
To mike: I feel the love mike. Do you?
What you call smear, most others call facts. A rose by any other name still smells ...

Putting George’s personalized obsession to the side, this case should present the Council with an opportunity to clarify with staff the issues that should be brought to the Council, especially if there’s a possibility that a lawsuit might result.

The City manager and staff handles the details of all property acquisitions and disposals.

When, as Chair of the Planning Commission in 2006, I tried to find out some details about the City selling a lot with Hwy 1 frontage to CCWD director Ken Coverdell, it was basically impossible to get the City staff to answer any questions or provide even a single piece of documentation. They stonewalled all the way.

Muteff is acting weirdly. Does he, or does he not, know anything about the landowners and HMB’s actual history with the Oak Avenue Park property? What are all these oblique references he makes? Are these facts? Do they have something to contribute to this discussion?

Who are the homeowners in the Cypress-by-the-Sea Homeowners Association? Whoever they are, did they question the takeover of their property in any public forum *before* they filed suit?

I am not suggesting that they don’t have a valid point if what they claim is true. But why a lawsuit? Why *now*? Is HMB reaping what it sowed in AB 1991?

More detail from the story, which helps explain *how* this wound up in court. 

>He explained that the time gap between the construction of the park and the filing of the lawsuit was “an 18-month attempt to peacefully negotiate with the city.”

>“We wanted to keep this out of litigation, the eight homeowners did,” Wilson said. “We tried very, very hard to get the city’s attention and get them to be serious about this.”

>Wilson described the city’s response to his clients’ letters as “dismissive”.

In 2004, Mr. Ferriera was Mayor, and Mr. Grady was Vice Mayor. You mean to tell me that mike’s claim of ‘it’s staff’s fault’ holds water?
The following year Grady was Mayor. We remember that, don’t we; with the conservation easement placed on 144 Kelly, at 12:15 AM, as the last action taken by that Council, against public outcry.
So, Ferriera claims he can’t control staff, but runs over the public?
Pretty hard to reconcile, really.
“Putting George’s personalized obsession to the side…”
You can take all the personal shots you like; they don’t counter the facts, and the clear, consistant actions of that bunch.

Here we go again.  An easement is granted usually for access to land-locked property or for sidewalks or for utilities (above or below ground).  Easements are done with the approval of both the grantor and recipient of the easement.  An official map is prepared by a surveyor showing the exact size of the easement.  Then (doesn’t have to be but really should to protect the rights of the recipient) should be recorded with the County.

Either you have an easement or you don’t.  There’s no maybe.

Hopefully,  getting out of this mess will only cost us a few hundred grand.  This is just another case of gross stupidity, arrogance and incompetence.  You can’t just keep taking peoples’ property illegally because you feel like it.

Per State Law, the City Council can hire and fire **only**:

- The City Manager
- The City Attorney
- The Police Chief (I think)

Hiring and firing of any other employees who report to the above 3 people is the sole province of those 3.

Another example:  at SAM, the Board has authority over only the General Manager and Counsel.

The only way that a City Council is allowed to handle obstinate staff is to tell the City Manager to deal with it.  So blaming any Council members for staff-caused problems is problematic at best.

Over the years I’ve become aware (mostly hearsay, but not all hearsay) of a number of incidents of HMB staff hiding information which should have been brought to the Council.

From the SMC Times article:

“Half Moon Bay Vice Mayor John Muller said Thursday…“I don’t think we would ever do something that’s illegal — we work really hard at that,” Muller said.”

Yes Mr. Vice Mayor. Instead, you hire expensive lobbyists like Lanny Davis to push for special exemptions to the law, in an effort to do things that presently *are* illegal (i.e., AB 1991/Beachwood).

Kindly take a look at the GOP Public Forum and Chatroom Handbook to see where the right wing goes for lessons in rhetoric.  The original was obtained at a church festival in the midwest and sent to me in .pdf format.

Here, I transcribed it, complete with misspellings and grammatical errors, for your edification.

This site is famous in the political chat world :) 

I have the .pdf available for inspection.

Wow, could it be that Mr. Muteff, he who readily assigns blame on behalf of all of us, is actually so channeled in his approach that he expects to get away with the most basic logical fallacies? In this thread, he attempts to pull off the “correlation equals causation” fallacy repeatedly. For those who never took a beginning philosophy or logic course, this might provide some quick help:

The weirdness comes when the gaffe is pointed out, and the one making the mistake keeps on pushing it, thus indicating she/he believes they have their audience in the bag or that their audience lacks the rudimentary thinking skills to recognize a fallacy. Does Muteff really have so little respect for those he tries to gather to his point of view?

Carl, I don’t know that anyone pays attention to George Muteff except to write off his posts as weirdness or worse.  What interests me though is 1) where he found “the Complaint” he talks about below, 2) where all the rest of us can read the entire “19-pager” he cites, and 3) how Muteff just happens to possess a stamped paper copy of “the Complaint.”

As Muteff wrote earlier: “Yeah, there’s a chronicle alright, Carl. A 19 pager, stamped received Wednesday, June 18, 2008, E-Filed and signed by the Clerk of the Superior Court. It’s called the Complaint.”

George, please be kind enough to let us all in on “the Complaint” and post the url.

Thanks, Janet

Tne sky is falling! The sky is falling! Mike Ferreira must have done it!

Nothing makes right wingers madder than ignoring their illogical arguments and smears.  We speculate online that they get paid by the number of replies they receive.

The case is online HERE.

Thanks, Debbie. I got that far before: case number and so on. But I never found the 19-page narrative report of what this thing is all about. Did I miss a Web link? Seems to me if George Muteff was able to read all 19 pages of “the Complaint,” the rest of us should be able to find the same thing online.


The earth is warming! The earth is warming! Obviously a Ferreira plot!!

Janet, were you able to click on the camera icons in the right hand column and download the pdf files? I didn’t count the pages, but the text of the complaint is on the line that says “(S) Complaint Filed”. Documents referenced in the complaint are accessible from the lines labeled “Received, Part n Of The Complaint”.

In my browser, Adobe reader indicated in a band above the document that it retreived 2 documents. The one it initially displayed was not the complaint. On the upper left, there was a dropdown labeled Document Name. Selecting LeadDocument from the dropdown gets the complaint.

If for some reason, you don’t get the search results when you click the link I gave above, the case is CIV473836.

If all that fails, send me a message via Coastsider and I’ll email the documents to you.

Thanks again, Debbie. Good directions. (I missed the drop-down menu the first time. Thanks for pointing it out.)

The court site is really confusing and it took me a while to figure this out also.  You can now download the complaint and attached map from Coastsider.