Sunday, June 19, 2011


Gold Line Construction Authority Chairman Doug Tessitor responded to a question from a Patch reader where he explains that the GLCA may use eminent domain against Monrovia if a deal cannot be reached to buy the city's land along Evergreen Avenue.
Reader submitted question: "The media is making a big fuss over negotiations with Monrovia and how the Gold Line may be at risk if we don't resolve something soon. Should the operation facility in Monrovia not come into fruition, is it really conceivable that the Gold Line never make it to Glendora or beyond Arcadia even? What would our next best options be, or are we putting all of hopes on Monrovia?"
Doug Tessitor:
I’ll answer your question as candidly as I can, recognizing that we are dealing with pending litigation as well as continuing negotiations between the City of Monrovia, Excalibur LLC (a private property owner) and the Gold Line Construction Authority.
Without getting too deep into the weeds, perhaps the best approach to answering your questions would be to paraphrase Monrovia’s Mayor, Mary Anne Lutz.  In a recent letter to the Tribune she said that there are four options available to the Gold Line:
1.     Finalize the proposal that GLCA had been negotiating with Monrovia and/or agree to the demands of the private property owner, or,
2.     Redesign the Maintenance Facility to eliminate the need for Excalibur’s property, or,
3.     Choose another site for the facility in another location, or,
4.     Condemn Excalibur’s property and/or the City of Monrovia’s property through eminent domain.
We have been in formal negotiations with Monrovia for more than eighteen months. During that time the Authority has been attempting to strike a bargain that compensated Monrovia for all of their actual and opportunity costs related to their 14 acres. We were a hair’s breadth away from an agreement.
A little over two months ago, we were made aware of a 2004 settlement between the City and Excalibur that our attorneys believe could result in litigation that would take as 12 to 18 months to resolve. During that time, our attorneys tell us, we would likely not be able to take possession of the land.
Since March 24th, the Authority has been trying to negotiate an agreement that would satisfy the needs of Monrovia, Excalibur and the Construction Authority. To date neither Monrovia nor Excalibur has been willing to reach a compromise with the Authority, or even make offers to resolve the situation.
So, according to Mayor Lutz, our first option is to agree with both landowners’ position, not recognize the existence of a cloud over the title, and pay them both off. Options two and three are impractical, at this point, because they would similarly result in project delays of as much as two years. If we had known of the existence of the agreement between Monrovia and Excalibur, we most assuredly would have explored other alternatives. At the very least we would have factored their agreement into our negotiations.
It is the Authority’s job to plan and build a light rail extension from Pasadena to Azusa, and from Azusa to the county line. The voters committed more than $800 million to support completing that vision. The Authority has a responsibility to manage those funds with integrity and trustworthiness.
Because of the City’s failure to disclose their 2004 settlement agreement with Excalibur to us, and a legal challenge has resulted from it, the Authority is now embroiled in costly and schedule-threatening litigation. The Authority now must renegotiate with the City under new and highly adverse circumstances – putting the project in jeopardy.
The Authority believes that the City should be involved in helping to resolve these issues, and has offered to share the cost of the lawsuit’s impact with the City to keep the project on schedule. The City has rejected those offers to date. The Authority remains open to paying the City a large sum of money for its land conditioned upon settlement of the related disputes.
At this stage, because of contractual deadlines, we have no choice but to recognize the possibility that we may have to choose Mayor Lutz’s last alternative as our own. As part of that reality, Notices of Proposed Eminent Domain Proceedings were issued on June 10, 2011.
The Authority does not want to take this step to fruition, but we owe a fiduciary duty to LA Metro, as their agent, and to the San Gabriel Valley taxpayers, to keep this project on schedule, and within budget.
In the coming weeks, the Authority anticipates awarding the Alignment Design/Build Contract to one of the three short-listed, competing teams. If we are prevented from doing so, because of the intransigence of Monrovia and Excalibur to come to the table, we will proceed with this least palatable alternative – condemnation.
Together, Phase II (a) will result in 7,000 jobs and nearly $1 billion of economic stimulus for our region in the next few years of construction, not to mention better commuting options for the millions of riders this new segment will add to the line in the years ahead.

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