A San Fernando Valley judge has quashed a set of easements that a developer believes was the only legal obstacle standing in the way of a new high school in Castaic.
Superior Court Judge Melvin Sandvig ruled Wednesday that Eugene Lombardi and wife Sandra must sign over their easements in the Romero Canyon area of Castaic to neighboring property owner Larry Rasmussen and his Spirit Holding company, doing business as Romero Canyon LLC.
Rasmussen owns the property designated for a high school. The William S. Hart Union High School District has signed a purchase agreement with Rasmussen, predicated on its being free and clear of encumbrances.
“Based on the (court) action today, the seller is making progress in curing title issues relative to building Castaic area high school in accordance of our purchase agreement,” Tom Cole, the school district’s chief operating officer, said in a statement.
Rasmussen said the Lombardis claimed they had an easement to a water tank site that would preclude Rasmussen and the Hart District from building a school on Rasmussen’s property.
Wednesday, the judge ordered Gene Lombardi to follow through on a promise made in 2008 to sign over the easement to Rasmussen as soon as the county of Los Angeles no longer required the easement. Rasmussen initiated the current court action to force Lombardi to follow through, after the county acknowledged in May and again in August that the easement was not required.
In his preliminary order, the judge wrote, “(Gene Lombardi) and his wife refused to sign off on the quitclaim deed and attempted to impose additional conditions which do not appear in the settlement agreement or the Rasmussen deed. … The quitclaim deed is necessary so that (Rasmussen) can complete his deal with the William S. Hart Union High School District for the purchase of his parcels.”
The judge ordered the Lombardis to quitclaim the easements to Rasmussen on Oct. 7, “or the court will issue an order saying the easements have evaporated,” Rasmussen said.
The judge also ordered Gene Lombardi to pay $10,000 to Rasmussen. He ruled that Rasmussen’s request for $46,802 to cover court costs was unreasonable.
Rasmussen and Gene Lombardi had been at odds over their property for years, following the death of a prior property owner. Under the July 2008 settlement agreement, the court awarded two of the four parcels to each man, with Lombardi getting first pick.
Rasmussen is selling his two parcels to the school district.
The Lombardis’ two parcels and their easements are in foreclosure. Trustee R.E.F.S. Inc. of Irvine says the husband and wife, who own them as community property, are $1.366 million in arrears.
The foreclosure sale is set for Oct. 12. There is no word on whether Rasmussen or the school district are interested in placing a bid.
Rasmussen said the pending foreclosure had no bearing on the judge’s order Wednesday.
Rasmussen said the Lombardis’ easements were the only hurdle to completing the sale of his property.