Jun 10, 2011

Op-Ed: Chairman Tessitor Letter to Star-News Article: Monrovia in face-off with Gold Line Constr…

The following Op-Ed was issued in response to an article published in the Pasadena Star-News on Friday, June 10, 2011.


June 10, 2011

Steve Scauzillo
Opinions Editor
San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Subject:  Op-Ed

Dear Mr. Scauzillo,

In 2010 the Construction Authority learned it was required to build a maintenance and operations facility to complete the Foothill Extension from Pasadena to Azusa as a requirement of the Funding Agreement between the Authority and Metro.

Since then the Authority proceeded to environmentally review the facility alternatives. In January 2011, the Authority Board certified the final environmental document and selected a 24-acre site in the City of Monrovia for the facility. This decision was supported by the City. We then began negotiating to purchase the land within the selected site, including 14 acres owned by the City of Monrovia and its Redevelopment Agency and 10 more owned by multiple private property owners.

By March 2011, the Authority and City had come close to agreeing on a $56 million deal for the city-owned properties, based entirely on, of course, the City's ability to sell its land free and clear without litigation or other encumbrance. In fact, the draft Purchase and Sale Agreement stated there was no threatened litigation. It was not until March 22, 2011 that the Authority was made aware of a 2004 covenant between the City of Monrovia and an adjacent property owner allegedly prohibiting the transaction between the City and the Authority, and that the City would not be able to sell its land without embroiling the Authority in very costly and schedule-threatening litigation. This property owner has since filed 2 lawsuits, one challenging CEQA and the other against the City of Monrovia contesting the sale and purchase of the City's properties.

These facts materially change the Authority's ability to pay $56 million as part of a deal for the City's properties and pose a significant risk to the viability of the entire project. The Authority very much believes that the City should be involved in resolving this situation.

Given the new conditions, the Authority is seeking the City's partnership in sharing some of the costs to settle with the private property owner and resolve the City's lawsuit regarding its 2004 covenant with the same property owner.  At this point, however, it does not appear that the City considers that it has any responsibility in the litigation or the cloud over its property.

The Authority's options are clear: we can give into the demands of a few property owners and possibly bankrupt, shorten and/or significantly delay the project; or we can take every step reasonably necessary to complete the project to Azusa on time and within budget while preserving resources to extend light rail to the county line.

Doug Tessitor
Board Chairman
Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority