By Eric Heinz
People who paid into the Beach Impact Parking Fees fund will receive mailers regarding the process to receive their money, after the city of San Clemente settled the final parts of its five-year-long lawsuit regarding the fund.
A judge determined in 2014 that because the fund had not been used to increase parking in San Clemente, the people who paid into it should receive their money back. The city appealed the decision and lost in 2015.
A separate issue arose that kept the fund from being distributed, but City Attorney Scott Smith said those issues have now been resolved.
“There were some loose ends in the Walker case in terms of implementing the judgment, which have all been worked out with opposing counsel,” Smith said in an email. “The larger items dealt with (1) reporting to opposing counsel and the court the methodology to locate owners and successors who are due refunds from the fund and (2) status of title to the El Camino Real property acquired with BPIF funds for parking lot purposes.”
Smith said the plaintiffs argued that the lot’s acquisition with BPIF funds was not a legitimate use of those funds. The judge in the case had the city and the litigants meet to discuss the issues, Smith said, instead of taking them to court on a new case.
At its last meeting, the City Council diverted $700,000 to the BPIF in order to satisfy the order to refund residents who put money into it.
“We’ve taken some time to do that, with the most significant effort being dedicated to developing and implementing methodology for finding and notifying potential claimants,” Smith said. “That methodology was vetted with plaintiffs and their counsel, who concluded that it constitutes best efforts for accomplishing this. Beyond that, the City Council decided that rather than litigating the issue of whether the El Camino Real lot could be used for the restrictive purpose contemplated in the BPIF resolution, it would be better to approve a fund transfer to ‘buy out’ the BPIF fund’s interest in the lot.”
Smith said this now resolves the case and gives the city “full latitude” to use the lot. “(City) staff estimates that the BPIF refund checks (including the additional increment for the buy-out of the El Camino Real lot) will be sent out the first week of March,” Smith said.
A list of land parcels and addresses show who is eligible for the refunds. For more information, contact the city and follow the guidelines on the mailer.