“Attention San Bernardino Residents Important City Bankruptcy Information”

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

“ATTENTION SAN BERNARDINO RESIDENTS IMPORTANT CITY BANKRUPTCY INFORMATION” reads the first page of a mailer from the San Bernardino Police Officers Association and the San Bernardino City Professional Firefighters.

The mailer is below (scanned with the back and front first, with the interior page below), and arrived August 4th in post :


The back of the mailer says:

SAN BERNARDINO’S FIREFIGHTERS AND POLICE OFFICERS STAND WITH THE RESIDENTS OF SAN BERNARDINO

Dear San Bernardino Residents,
San Bernardino’s Firefighters and Police Officers go to work each day
risking their lives and their safety to protect the lives and safety of the
City’s neighborhoods and families.
We’re in this together with you. We have your back- and we know you
have ours.
Mayor Pat Morris and his administration must be held accountable for
the failed policies that have driven San Bernardino into bankruptcy.
His failures cannot be excused.
Your tax dollars have been squandered.
Jobs have been run out of the City.
Vital city services needed to protect San Bernardino’s families are
facing devastating cuts that will threaten public safety.
We’re willing to do our part and make our fair share of sacrifice to help
the City balance its budget- just as we have for the last several years.
As the City moves forward into Bankruptcy Court we will keep you
informed to ensure that you have the facts about how San Bernardino’s
bankruptcy will affect you and your family.
We thank you for your continued support and are honored to serve you.
Yours truly,
SCOTT MOSS, President
San Bernardino City Professional Firefighters
STEVE TURNER, President
San Bernardino Police Officers Association
Learn more about the City’s Bankruptcy at
www.sanbernardinocitybankruptcy.com

Page Two continues:

WHY DID THE CITY OF SAN BERNARDINO
DECIDE TO DECLARE BANKRUPTCY?
The City claims to have a $45 million budget deficit that will prevent it from
paying its employees and the other bills it owes by the end of summer.-
WHAT CAUSED SAN BERNARDINO’S $45
MILLION BUDGET DEFICIT?
Mayor Pat Morris and his administration failed to make the tough choices
necessary to honestly balance the City’s Budget.
According to an outside independent expert, “San Bernardino faced years
of deficit spending. It’s structural gap, however, was covered-up instead of
addressed. The city sold assets, borrowed from city funds, borrowed from
banks and bondholders, used one year’s surplus to cover the following
year’s deficit, and raided its reserves.”
IS IT COMMON FOR A CITY TO
DECLARE BANKRUPTCY?
No, it’s very rare. Only one or two cities in the entire
nation declare bankruptcy each year. Recently the
cities of Stockton and Mammoth Lakes declared
bankruptcy, and Vallejo declared bankruptcy in 2008.
Vallejo has completed the bankruptcy process but the
financial benefits are unclear. Vallejo spent $13 million
of taxpayer money on legal bills and still does not
have a balanced budget.

Page Three says:

IS THE COST OF THE SALARIES AND PENSIONS
OF FIREFIGHTERS AND POLICE OFFICERS THE
CAUSE OF THE CITY’S BANKRUPTCY?
No. Pat Morris is falsely making this claim to hide the fact that his failures
to stop wasteful spending and balance the City’s budget have driven San
Bernardino into bankruptcy.
The truth is the San Bernardino City Charter, as approved by the voters,
protects taxpayers by limiting the salaries and benefits of the City’s
Firefighters and Police Officers.
Additionally, San Bernardino’s Firefighters and Police Officers have always
been willing to do their fair share to help balance the budget. They’ve
offered and accepted reductions to their pay and benefits for the last four
years that has saved the City millions of dollars.
Unfortunately Mayor Morris and his administration failed to use the money
from these savings to cut the deficit. Instead the money was used for
wasteful pet projects like the SBX line.
WILL BANKRUPTCY BE BAD FOR
SAN BERNARDINO?
The greatest risk bankruptcy poses to residents is in the area of job creation.
The decision to declare bankruptcy will likely make it more difficult to attract
job-creating businesses to the City because they will be afraid to invest in
San Bernardino.
That would likely result in an increase in San Bernardino’s already high
unemployment rate.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 300 E. State St., Suite 517
Redlands, CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 296-6708

Opinion issued in Rialto Citizens for Responsible Growth v. City of Rialto (Wal-Mart Real Estate Business Trust et al. Real Parties in Interest) No. E052253.

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Yesterday, July 31, 2012, the California Court of Appeal 4th District, Division 2 issued a ruling, certified for partial publication in the case of Rialto Citizens for Responsible Growth v. City of Rialto.  The appeal arose out of a writ of mandate case heard before Judge Donald Alvarez of the San Bernardino Superior Court (San Bernardino Superior Court Case CIVSS 810834).  The ruling is found at, for the moment, 2012 WL 3089826.  The real parties in interest are Wal-Mart related entities.

Justice King wrote the opinion, with Acting Presiding Justice McKinster and Justice Miller concurring.  The procedural history, summary and conclusion follow:

Defendant, City of Rialto (the City), approved a 230,000–square–foot commercial retail center to be anchored by a 24–hour Wal–Mart “Supercenter” (the project). Plaintiff, Rialto Citizens for Responsible Growth (Rialto Citizens), petitioned the trial court for a writ of administrative mandate invalidating several project approvals, including the City’s resolution certifying the final environmental impact report (the EIR) for the project, several resolutions amending the City’s general plan and the Gateway Specific Plan governing the project site, and an ordinance approving a development agreement for the project.

The trial court entered judgment in favor of Rialto Citizens and issued a peremptory writ invalidating the challenged resolutions and ordinance. Real parties in interest, Wal–Mart Real Estate Business Trust, Wal–Mart Real Estate Business Trust, Inc., and Wal–Mart Real Estate Trust, Inc. (collectively Wal–Mart), appeal. The City and its redevelopment agency, another named defendant, join Wal–Mart’s appeal. Based on our de novo review of the City’s actions certifying the EIR and approving the project, we find no prejudicial abuse of discretion on the part of the City. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1094.5.) Accordingly, we reverse the judgment in its entirety.
II. SUMMARY OF CLAIMS AND CONCLUSIONS
As a preliminary matter, Wal–Mart claims for the first time on appeal that Rialto Citizens lacks standing to challenge the project approvals because neither it nor any of its members are beneficially interested in the issuance of the judgment or writ. Based on the record before us, we conclude that Rialto Citizens has public interest standing. It is therefore unnecessary to determine whether Rialto Citizens or any of its members have a beneficial interest in the issuance of judgment or the writ.
In a separate section of this opinion, we address whether the City violated the Planning and Zoning Law (Gov.Code, § 65000 et seq .) in approving the project. The trial court set aside the City’s resolutions approving the general and specific plan amendments and the ordinance approving the development agreement on the ground the City violated the Planning and Zoning Law in two respects. First, the court concluded that the notice of the public hearing on the project before the City Council was defective because it did not include the planning commission’s earlier recommendations that the City Council approve the plan amendments and the development agreement. (§§ 65033, 65094.) The court also ruled that the City erroneously adopted the ordinance approving the development agreement without expressly finding that the provisions of the agreement were consistent with the general and specific plans governing the project site, as the Planning and Zoning Law also requires. (§ 65867.5, subd. (b).)
On independent review of these legal questions, we agree with the trial court that the notice of hearing was defective because it did not include the planning commission’s recommendations. We also agree that the City erroneously adopted the ordinance approving the development agreement without finding that the provisions of the agreement were consistent with the general and specific plans. Importantly, however, Rialto Citizens made no attempt to show and the trial court did not find that either the defective notice of hearing or the omitted factual finding resulted in prejudice, substantial injury, and that a different result was probable absent these errors or omissions. (§ 65010, subd. (b).) In the absence of these factual findings by the trial court, the resolutions approving the plan amendments and the ordinance approving the development agreement were erroneously invalidated as a matter of law.
 In the final section of this opinion, we address whether the City violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) (Pub. Resources Code, § 21000 et seq.) in approving the project, specifically in certifying the EIR and in rejecting a “reduced density alternative” as infeasible. The trial court ruled that the EIR was inadequate and therefore erroneously certified because: (1) its project description did not identify the development agreement as an approval required to implement the project; (2) it inadequately analyzed the project’s cumulative impacts on air quality, traffic, and on greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change; and (3) it improperly deferred mitigation measures to reduce the project’s potential impacts on five special status plant species and three special status wildlife species, namely, the San Bernardino and Stephens’ kangaroo rats, and the burrowing owl. The court also concluded that insufficient evidence supported the city council’s factual finding, at the project approval stage, that the reduced density alternative to the project was infeasible.
We agree with the trial court that the project description was inadequate because it did not identify the development agreement as an approval required to implement the project. Importantly, however, this omission did not preclude or undermine informed decisionmaking on the project as a whole or the development agreement, because the ordinance approving the development agreement was duly noticed and considered, along with other project approvals, at the public hearing on the project before the City Council.
We also conclude, contrary to the trial court’s rulings, that the EIR adequately analyzed the project’s cumulative impacts on air quality, traffic, and on greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change, and did not improperly defer mitigation of potential impacts on any of the special status plant or wildlife species. Lastly, we conclude that substantial evidence supports the City’s finding, at the project approval stage, that the reduced density alternative was infeasible.
Thus we find no prejudicial violations of either the Planning and Zoning Law or CEQA in the City’s approval of the project.  Rialto Citizens for Responsible Growth v. City of Rialto (2012) .       Cal.Rptr.3d      , 2012 WL 3089826, *1-*2 [Footnotes omitted].
The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.
A: 300 E. State St., Suite 517
Redlands, CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 296-6708