Santa Monica Lookout Opinion
|City's Baseless Lawsuits Vilify Housing Providers|
August 3, 2023
On July 3, the City Attorney's office released a distorted press release with the malicious intent of tarnishing my reputation that was used as the basis of local news stories ("City Wins Injunction in Housing Discrimination Case," July 4, 2023).
The press release conceals mismanagement that has made Santa Monica unsafe, while shamelessly promoting the City Attorney's Office and an outside law firm.
This deceitful act was designed to divert the public's attention from the City's corruption, including the payment of about $230 million to hide years of misconduct by former employee Eric Uller, and vilify landlords.
The public funds that went toward that payment could have provided hundreds of housing units for low- and moderate-income renters.
The City's press release omits the fact that over seven years have passed since the City filed their frivolous lawsuits against me and Brida LLC and that five City attorneys have held the post during that time.
The City Attorney's office has adopted a strategy of initiating lawsuits against property owners and managers, some of them baseless, including the lawsuit against me.
These lawsuits have wasted taxpayers' money and deliberately prolonged the legal process to the point where landlords have encountered severe financial hardship.
My decision to accept a settlement was entirely due to the high costs associated with the trial and the unfortunate passing of my Santa Monica attorney, Rosario Perry. He was so appalled by the City Attorney's actions that he had decided to continue representing me pro bono.
The press release references unsubstantiated claims that the City was unable to validate in a court of law and fails to mention that the case was prolonged after the City's lead attorney fainted in the courtroom in 2019.
This resulted in an extension just days before the scheduled trial and prolonged it for three more years until it was taken to a Mandatory Settlement Conference on June 20, 2023.
Contrary the false allegations made by the City, I have never entered any rental unit without the proper authorization of tenants and have always provided reasonable accommodations and modifications to ensure that the needs of tenants with disabilities are met.
Neither I nor Brida LLC had any role in the payment of $1 million made by the insurance company, a decision reached without a fair hearing and referenced in the press release.
In this case, the plaintiffs advocated for by the City stored a significant number of oxygen tanks in the common carport adjacent to cars. This resulted in citations issued to the housing providers by the Santa Monica Fire Department in 2017.
Later, Travelers Insurance declined to renew the insurance policy for the building, causing significant financial damage and emotional distress to the housing providers.
I have tried to rescind my signature on the stipulated judgment, as I was compelled to sign the document under duress without the opportunity to review it with my legal adviser on June 20, 2023.
Regrettably, I was unwittingly used as a pawn in an elaborate public relations scheme to create the illusion that the City Attorney had done something beneficial for tenants, when in reality, that is far from the truth.
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