Santa Monica Lookout
B e s t   l o c a l   s o u r c e   f o r   n e w s   a n d   i n f o r m a t i o n

Santa Monica's Huntley Hotel Demands Retraction of “Outrageous” Flyers

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark


Rusty's Surf

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

July 17, 2013 -- An ongoing PR war between Santa Monica's two largest luxury hotels could end up in court after the Huntley threatened legal action Tuesday against the Fairmont Miramar.

Latham & Watkins, the law firm representing the Huntley Hotel, gave Miramar representatives a week to comply with demands to retract statements made in two flyers distributed to Santa Monica homes last month attacking the Huntley Hotel and its owner Sohrab Sassounian.

“We hope that the Miramar will cease its smear campaign and retract their false statements and remove the corresponding website,” said Huntley Vice President Shiva Aghaipour. “If the Miramar does not do so, the Huntley will take appropriate next steps.”

The flyers -- the first of which was delivered door-to-door by foot on June 13 -- accuse Sassounian of being a greedy Beverly Hills millionaire whose opposition to the neighboring Miramar’s $225 million redevelopment would stiff the City of vital revenue.

The flyers also accused Huntley owners of manipulating local neighborhood groups to fight his battle against the Miramar.

“The false statement that Mr. Sassounian is greedy and the suggestion that the Huntley's opposition to the project is based on greed are entirely false,” a letter penned Tuesday by Huntley lawyer Rick Zbur reads.

“As noted, Mr. Sassounian's and the Huntley's opposition to the project is based on concerns related to negative impacts of the project on the neighborhood and the community,” Zbur wrote. “Mr. Sassounian and the Huntley have nothing to gain financially from the project; in fact, it is the Miramar that seeks financial gain.”

According to Miramar representatives, Zbur's letter changes nothing.

“We stand behind every factual statement in our flyers, and look forward to the opportunity to respond point by point to Mr. Zbur's letter,” said Alan Epstein, the lead negotiator for MSD Capital, which manages the property for computer billionaire Michael Dell.

The Miramar's plan, which the Huntley has vocally opposed since its inception two years ago, would replace two of the 86-year-old hotel's current buildings with three new ones, including a 21-story tower.

According to representatives of the Miramar, their flyers attacking the Huntley were a response to “more than a year of being ruthlessly smeared by the Huntley Hotel and its high-priced team of Downtown L.A. lawyers and consultants.”

The first of the Miramar's flyers followed close on the heels of one put out by Save Santa Monica, a group organized by the Huntley's political consultant, Sue Burnside.

The Save Santa Monica flyer came days before a public meeting held by the City to ask residents what they would like to see studied in a State-mandated environmental impact report (EIR) of the Miramar's proposed project.

That flyer called on residents to attend the meeting and show their outrage over a revelation that Dell had used a State tax law loophole to save money on taxes when he bought the property.

The meeting, which was attended by several of the Huntley's lawyers and Burnside, nearly dissolved into chaos after angry residents demanded a chance to speak against the project. ("Santa Monicans Get Rowdy at Miramar Redevelopment Meeting," May 17)

Lookout Logo footer image copyrightCopyright 1999-2013 All Rights Reserved. EMAIL