Redondo Beach earns partial legal victory against waterfront developer

Redondo Beach Waterfront LLC, a CenterCal Properties subsidiary, sued the city claiming they still have vested rights for their planned 524,000-square-foot harbor village.

REDONDO BEACH—The city of Redondo Beach recently defended itself against a lawsuit filed against it by a developer, as a local court dismissed most of a a motion related to vesting rights in the waterfront area previously slated to be redeveloped by CenterCal’s Redondo Beach Waterfront LLC (RBW).

Ongoing litigation between the developer and the city since 2017 has placed improvements to the area on pause, including efforts to establish a new boat launch ramp.

The city had an agreement with RBW for a redevelopment project on Redondo’s harbor front but the project was halted in 2017 after voters passed Measure C, a ballot measure which restricted waterfront development in the city, and after the City Council decided to cancel a lease agreement with the company. RBW filed several lawsuits against the city in an effort to move the project forward and to seek compensation for money previously invested in the project.

One of those lawsuits, filed in April 2019, came after the city granted a license for the BeachLife Festival, a three-day music festival at Redondo’s Seaside Lagoon. RBW argued they still had vested rights for their planned redevelopment project, which included Seaside Lagoon. In response, the city filed a demurer, an objection claiming an opponent’s point is irrelevant or invalid. In a July 20 ruling, the Los Angeles County Superior Court sided with the city on two of three of the city’s demurer arguments, essentially ruling there was no evidence RBW had a reasonable expectation of an ongoing relationship with the city. The overturning of one of the city’s demurer arguments does leave room for RBW to seek monetary damages.

A series of other lawsuits involving the two parties are still active, including one refuting certification of Measure C, one seeking millions in damages and another against individual council members.

Redondo Beach had been working with RBW to develop the aging waterfront area since about 2010. In 2016, RBW was granted development rights for a $300 to $400 million makeover of a 36-acre portion of the waterfront. Plans included a 524,000-square-foot “harbor village” of retail shops, creative offices, a hotel, movie theater, market hall, parking structures and a reconfigured Seaside Lagoon. There were also hopes a new boat launch ramp would also be part of the development.

The project faced a wave of opposition from critics who said the project was too big, commercialized public land and would create a traffic nightmare. A group of residents who opposed the project drafted Measure C, which was approved by Los Angeles County and appeared on the ballot in 2017. The measure passed on a 57 percent majority.

Redondo Beach City Council member Nils Nehrenheim, one of the leading opponents of RBW’s plans, said the recent July ruling will allow them move forward with leasing out properties and making improvements to the waterfront. He said the city will resume discussions on how to improve the waterfront as part of the city’s strategic planning in October.

Input submitted from the Harbor Commission to the City Council in March related to the city’s 10-year goal planning suggested adding the goal of developing and implementing a comprehensive, integrated, resident approved planned for the entire Redondo Beach Waterfront (the harbor and pier areas) including the AES and SCE site.

“Our chance to develop the harbor area is a once-in-a-lifetime (or longer) opportunity and deserves the highest level of attention from city leadership, staff and residents,” the Harbor Commission wrote to the City Council in March.

The Harbor Commission also outlined six-month goals to work with the City Council on, including creating a harbor master plan which included settling disputes with CenterCal and Westport Capital to move forward with harbor revitalization, holding a public workshop on a new boat launch ramp, and several specific goals related to sea level rise.

The next city strategic planning session has been scheduled for 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 29.

One thought on “Redondo Beach earns partial legal victory against waterfront developer

  • October 25, 2020 at 5:11 pm
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    All of the lawsuits filed against the City of Redondo Beach by CenterCal (Redondo Beach Waterfront LLC) could have been avoided if the city council had just waited 5 weeks until after the election in 2017 to approve the project. Since then 5 lawsuits were filed that have cost Redondo Beach millions to defend. One has to wonder why our city attorney was not more forthcoming and urged the council to just wait when he does so on just about every other topic.

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