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Judge Throws Out Sadeghis' Claim for Millions

Developers of the Playa del Norte project were attempting to get around the democratic process, judge rules.

A judge today refused to hear a case by erstwhile North Beach developers who

Orange County Superior Court Judge Luis A. Rodriguez said in his written decision to throw the case out of court that plaintiffs Shaheen and Linda Sadeghi were using the legal system to try to get around the democratic process.

He specifically cited laws enacted against "strategic lawsuits to stifle public participation," or SLAPP, a term coined in the 1980s to describe the practice of suing a citizen, group or public agency "for alleged wrongdoing simply because that individual or group has used constitutionally protected rights to persuade the government to take a particular course of action," according to Farlex's legal dictionary.

The Sadeghis, principals in the LAB development company that had , claimed millions in damages after voters shot down their project with the in March 2011.

"Are the factual allegations contained in the complaint against the City of San Clemente protected free speech authorizing the court to apply [anti-SLAPP laws]? The answer is yes," the judge wrote.

"Yes as to any alleged facts which refer, or identify any statements, comments and communications pertaining to the Measure A referendum, whether made in council chambers, in public or in their official capacity. All of the statements clearly fall within the protected speech/petition rights," Rodriguez said.

The judge said Playa del Norte was "arguably the most controversial property development project before the City Council. Thus, plaintiff’s project was a matter of 'public interest' not a 'predominantly private business-oriented activities.' "

The suit, filed in November 2011, says the city -- through two of its council members - -engaged in a campaign to sabotage Playa Del Norte, even after the city had specifically solicited a proposal from LAB for the development.

The suit claims the city leaked closed-session negotiations to the press that led to the project's characterization as a "land grab" by opponents. The suit also suggests the city set up bureaucratic hoops, such as unnecessary environmental reviews, to delay and ultimately kill the project.

The judge wraps up his assessment by pointing out that it was a vote by residents that killed the development.

"Notwithstanding, plaintiff also ignores the elephant in the room which is that the loss of the project was due to the vote of the citizens of San Clemente, not the actions or inactions of the city," Rodriguez wrote.

Lindsey Hanson March 02, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Like the Target?
Bill Koelzer March 02, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Intelligent people weighed both sides of the issue and then voted in San Clemente. Nobody twisted anyone's arm to vote as the people did; they just voted and they voted for NOT having the project that was proposed by the Sadeghi couple. This leaves the door open for a different project at North Beach, one that better serves the majority of people who love our ocean and beachfront.
Bill S March 02, 2012 at 11:52 PM
I for one believe that the Miramar Movie Theater will be addressed at some point in the next 3-5 years. That is the only thing that really needs improving in N. Beach. If you want something like a cheese cake factory or some cheese, you can probably get it at the Marblehead shops coming in the next 3 years or so. the best blueberry pancakes in town are at the Beach Garden at the pier. What a great ocean view.
Bill S March 02, 2012 at 11:57 PM
On another note; I live in N. Beach and I haven't seen much activity at the Casino lately. Why?? The Ole Hanson pool club is closed. They have a monopoly on weddings and special functions now. Seems like they are struggling for events? makes little sense to me even in the winter. Lastly, I still would like to see an expanded lawn section from the Ole Hanson Pool club for a park. The Ole Hanson Park would make a great sister beach park to the Laguna Main Beach. That park at night with the dark sky project in SC would be a great place for Star Gazing groups to go together. I love this town!!!
Tom Barnes March 03, 2012 at 05:38 AM
The frivolous lawsuit by the Sadeghis is thrown out by the judge. Just how much money did this cost the city? Add this to the amount promoting the LAB's Playa del Norte project and you have more than enough money for the Ole Hanson Beach Park at North Beach. The anti-park forces are still smarting from their 57% to 43% defeat on Measure A. These "nay-sayers" to the park idea see only concrete and asphalt as the solution to improving North Beach. Hopefully, a future City Council will enforce Resolutions 69-70 and 94-55 that call for a park at North Beach instead of allowing the "nay-sayers" to be in charge. It has been 1 year since the vote on Measure A and the park idea is still the only one on the table to improve North Beach.

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