Details of the settlement to remain confidential.
By Mary Scott, Peninsula News
RPV — When it comes to Donald Trump and his organization things are rarely done quietly. But in a surprise turn of events, Trump’s organization and the city of Rancho Palos Verdes discreetly dismissed a four-year lawsuit on Tuesday that would have cost the city $100 million had Trump won in court.
Just like that, it was over. The details of the settlement are subject to a confidentially agreement between the two parties.
“Trump National Golf Club is one of the city’s largest landowners and represents one of the principal assets of our city. We are pleased to put the litigation behind us and look forward to a cooperative and productive relationship with Mr. Trump and Trump National,” Mayor Anthony M. Misetich said in a joint statement to the press.
“The progress we have been able to make with the city in recent months has convinced us that we have entered a new era where the city and Trump National, the No. 1 rated course in the state of California, can work together,” said Jill Martin, Trump National’s assistant general counsel.
The dismissal of the $100-million lawsuit is the latest in a seemingly warming relationship between the Trump Organization and the city. Just last week, the City Council approved a name change for Ocean Trails Drive. After a failed attempt in 2006, visitors to Trump National Golf Course will turn off of Palos Verdes Drive South and on to Trump National Drive. In August, the council approved a two-year extension of the development agreement that governs the plan for the property.
Trump’s relationship with previous councils was less amiable.
The real estate tycoon roared into town in 2002 when his company purchased Ocean Trails Golf Course, an impressive 18-hole golf course spanning more than 100 acres of pristine coastline in Rancho Palos Verdes. It was impressive except for a missing 18th hole, which fell into the ocean on June 2, 1999. The 18th hole sat on top of one of three landslides, Landslide C, that stretches under the golf course.
As Trump repaired the hole, he sued the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District for $2 million. And he installed a flag pole and a row of ficus trees without the proper permit or city approval. While he turned Trump National Golf Course into a highly rated golf facility, according to a number of trade publications, he irked residents and city officials alike. Some took offense that Trump initially branded the golf course, Los Angeles rather than Palos Verdes.
The greatest battle, however, came over the development of residential homes: the city was concerned about the stability of the property’s geology; Trump claimed the city was just denying him the use of his property and unfairly imposing restrictions on it that the city did not apply to other residents.
“Mr. Trump and his organization have not been denied any use of his property whatsoever,” City Attorney Carol Lynch told the News in 2008. “He’s got a golf course; he’s got residential homes developed there; he’s got a clubhouse there, so I have to say I was very surprised that he filed an action for inverse condemnation.”
Trump’s attorneys, Scott Wellman and Stuart Miller of Wellman & Warren LLP, filed the $100-million lawsuit against the city in December 2008 in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Wellman & Warren LLP was responsible for winning the appeal in the Monks v. City of Rancho Palos Verdes case, removing decades-old landslide moratorium ordinance that prevented residents in Portuguese Bend Landslide area from developing their land.
Thirteen actions, including violation of due process, violation of equal protection, fraud and breach of contract, were detailed in the complaint.
Miller told the News previously that the city had done “a lot of testing and re-testing, studies and re-studies of the land” and in the organization’s view was “unnecessary.”
Cotton, Shires and Associates Inc., CSA Principal William Cotton, Helenschmidt Geotechnical Inc., HGI Principal Stanley Helenschmidt, Geokinetics Inc. and Geokinetics Principal Glenn Tofani were city consultants also named as defendants in the claim.