Building a Better Redondo (BBR), a controlled-growth group led by Jim Light, filed a lawsuit against the City of Redondo Beach on Monday to force the city to release records concerning legal expenses, BBR announced in a news release Wednesday morning.
According to the organization, the city has refused to release records detailing the legal expenses the city incurred before and during its battle with BBR over the harbor rezoning vote.
Last year, BBR sued the city to force the council to put Measure G, which updated zoning regulations for the harbor, on the November ballot. The measure passed despite BBR's opposition.
In a telephone conversation Wednesday afternoon, Redondo Beach City Attorney Michael Webb said that, although the city at that time had not yet been served with the lawsuit, Redondo Beach has "turned over more than 320 pages of documents in response to two lengthy public records act requests that Building a Better Redondo has filed."
According to Webb, the records requests covered documents from 2007 to the day of the most recent request.
Nevertheless, Light said there were "big gaps" in the data the city supplied, and that nearly a year's worth of invoices were missing from the documents. In addition, at least one contract with an outside law firm the city used was not released.
"(The data) did not contain the detail that we felt necessary," he said.
Light also said the city cited a variety of reasons, including ongoing litigation, for not releasing the data—reasons BRR and its attorney believe don't apply in the situation. According to Light, BBR told the city it was welcome to redact sensitive information from documents.
"They have not provided us (with) redacted statements," he said.
BRR originally requested the documents to verify what officials said the city spent on the legal issues related to the harbor rezoning, as well as to refute certain statements from public officials.
"Several of the councilmen … have made some public statements that denigrated BBR, myself and Councilman Bill Brand," Light said. In October, Councilman Steve Diels after the organization's attorney sued the city for legal fees. Councilman Steve Aspel accused the group of "legalized rape."
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The documents that were released have shown that "our spending was at least in line with what the city was experiencing on the lawsuit," Light said.
Additionally, BBR is seeking documents relating to a possible ethical violation. According to Light, the previously released documents showed that a lawyer who had formerly worked for Light on the rezoning issue later worked on the same issue at a firm employed by the city, even though Light never waived attorney-client privilege.
Despite BBR's claims, Webb said the city has cooperated with the organization's requests.
"We're committed to transparency in government, and we have given them the records showing exactly what the legal expenses (have) been not only for the lawsuit but for the other items they requested," Webb said.
"The city has a stated goal of transparency to its taxpayers, (but officials) continue to abuse their authority in denying access to ... records or delaying it significantly," he said.