Appeals Court rules again in favor of city over CenterCal
by Garth Meyer
Breach of contract, they said.
No, free speech, said the City of Redondo Beach.
The appeals court judge concurred with the City.
That is the nutshell report of a Dec. 21 California Court of Appeals judge’s ruling in favor of the city, over CenterCal, in a second appeal of a lawsuit brought by the property development company, after the dissolution of their $400 million agreement to redevelop the Redondo waterfront.
The appeal ran afoul of protected speech, argued Redondo Beach City Attorney Mike Webb.
The City had jurisdiction, he stated, to change its land use designation by way of a ballot measure, and send the results to the Coastal Commission. Second, elected officials who opposed the CenterCal project were free to participate in decisions about it.
In 2021, an L.A. County Superior Court judge ruled that the above matters were indeed free speech.
The state Appeals court subsequently affirmed this decision.
“This is a long-awaited victory for the City, and really strikes at the core of the CenterCal lawsuit,” Webb said. “There is a long way to go before the lawsuit is over, but this makes things much tougher for them.”
The $15 million breach of contract claim, originally brought in 2017 by CenterCal affiliate Redondo Beach Waterfront, LLC (known as RBW), was based on the city’s submission of the successful Measure C to the Coastal Commission that year.
“This appeal was limited to (this) one narrow issue,” said Betty Shumener, an attorney for CenterCal/RBW. “That issue has very little impact on the case moving forward… Since Measure C went into effect after RBW obtained statutory vested rights, it cannot be used to excuse the City’s misconduct. The City remains liable for breach of contract and the violation of RBW’s constitutional rights.”
The Coastal Commission had the final say on whether Measure C would become law.
The measure went to voters in large part because of the proposed CenterCal project, which would have spanned 525,000 square feet by Seaside Lagoon and the Pier.
The ballot aimed to change city land use regulations.
The CenterCal project, which drew strong political opposition, was withdrawn by the developers in 2018, before the Coastal Commission certified Measure C. ER