CLAREMONT -- The owners of Pizza 'N Such filed a lawsuit against the city of Claremont for taking more than $164,000 of their money from in-lieu parking fees to construct the Village West Parking Structure, which they say is not located in or services the downtown Claremont Village.
Pizza 'N Such owners James Michael Verbal and Susan Marie Verbal allege in their lawsuit, filed Feb. 28 in at Los Angeles Superior Court and received March 6 by the Claremont City Clerk's office, that the money could only be used for the construction, development and improvement of the Claremont Village.
"They took my money for one reason and used it for something else," said James Michael Verbal on Tuesday.
The parking structure, according to the lawsuit, is located several blocks away from the Claremont Village. According to the lawsuit, city officials did not recognize the parking structure as "available spaces" for the downtown village because the structure was constructed for tenants and customers in an area of expansion that did not include the village.
Because of the above reasons, the lawsuit states, the in-lieu parking fees paid could not be used to reimburse Claremont for expenses to build the Village West Parking Structure and the city did not comply with its own mitigation measures required under the city's municipal code.
"We're responding to their lawsuit and that should be filed shortly," said Tony Ramos, Claremont city manager on Tuesday.
According to the lawsuit, the owners have lived in Claremont for nearly 60 years and owned Pizza 'N Such at the northeast corner of Yale Avenue and Second Street since 1979.
The Claremont Village, according to the lawsuit, has been defined as the area bounded by Indian Hill Boulevard, 1st Street, 4th Street and College Avenue.
In 1975, the city established an in-lieu parking credit system for the Claremont Village. The credit system was designed for those properties that are unable to provide sufficient parking on-site or in which, from an urban design perspective, it was not desirable to provide on-site parking.
In other words, the funds paid by the plaintiffs would be used for parking which benefited the owners business. City officials maintained certain guidelines as to how, and when, such in-lieu fees were to be used.
Based on the city's encouragement and representation, in July 2002, plaintiffs and the city entered into a written agreement for payment of in-lieu parking fees.
City officials accepted payment of in-lieu fees for 12 parking credits in installments. The fees were placed in a fund, which can only be spent for the acquisition and development of off-street parking for the Claremont Village, or reimbursement of private providers of such parking, according to the law suit.
The agreement was 12 parking spaces at $9,000 per space and the plaintiffs signed a Promissory Note in the amount of $108,000 payable in 10 years at 5 percent.
According to the lawsuit, the Verbal's paid the amount in full on Oct. 2006 before the date of maturity. The total amount paid plus interest was $119,333.66.
Then in April 2008, according to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs paid $45,000 to the city as in-lieu parking fees to release an occupancy restriction imposed against the Pizza 'N Such property, which had been recorded in 2002. The agreement stated the city would deposit the plaintiffs' money into a fund "which can only be spent for the acquisition and development of off-street parking for the Claremont Village, or the reimbursement of private providers of such parking."