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September 21
1974 - COC's new Cougar Stadium opens for first game of football season; Harbor beats COC, 26-21 [story]
Cougar Stadium


Attorneys representing Steve Kim, the owner of the Sand Canyon Country Club, sent the Santa Clarita City Council a letter last week indicating that Kim will take the city to court “if the city maintains its denial” of Kim’s proposed Sand Canyon Resort & Spa.

The letter contends the city had no legal basis to deny the project, and further asserts that “racial prejudice” against the Korean-American property owner may have motivated opposition to the project.

Last month, the City Council upheld the Santa Clarita Planning Commission’s decision to deny the proposed resort, which would include a three-story, 250-room hotel, an inn, villas, conference rooms, restaurants and other amenities across approximately 50 acres of land north of Robinson Ranch Road and east of Sand Canyon Road.

Council members unanimously rejected the project due to concerns about traffic, fire evacuation routes, past promises about the land’s use and the project’s compatibility in the equestrian neighborhood of Sand Canyon. Their denial was with prejudice, meaning Kim would not be able to apply for a similar project on that property for one year.

Garrett Hanken, Kim’s attorney, wrote to council members that the Planning Commission’s unanimous June 1 project denial “had no lawful basis.”

“If the city persists in its simple and total denial of the (project) without any valid legal justification and does not demonstrate any legal willingness to engage in good faith discussions with (Kim) to reconsider and approve the project, then (Kim) must, and will, turn to the courts to enforce all of (Kim’s) legal claims and remedies,” he wrote.

Hanken argued in his letter that Kim has addressed all of the city’s concerns about the project’s economic viability, traffic impacts, open space, and emergency access and evacuation routes.

He also alleged that a court might find that Kim’s race influenced opposition to the project.

“Mr. Kim is a Korean-American immigrant, and, in the contentious debate regarding the project, there have been statements and comments suggesting that xenophobia and racial prejudice are motivating the hyper-aggressive and factually inaccurate opposition to the project,” wrote Hanken, a partner at Greenberg Glusker.

Kim’s attorney wrote that the city’s denial of the project has made the city vulnerable to legal claims.

The denial, he stated, “effectively forces (Kim) to maintain a money-losing use of the land” and “precludes (Kim) from developing the land for any profitable use in furtherance of a purported open space requirement that is neither recorded nor binding on the city.”

Kim is seeking compensation for that and for the investment he’s made in the property, noting that property improvements were made “in reliance on information and encouragement provided by the city.”

Kim’s proposal to replace the open space he would use by offering the city twice that amount, Hanken argued, “improperly allocates the burden of the city’s purported goal of maintain(ing) this open space on (Kim) and (Kim) alone.”

Hanken also alleged that Kim was denied property rights without “due process of law” and that Kim could bring charges under federal, state and local law against the city.

“The litigation itself will likely be very costly to both the city and (Kim),” wrote Hanken of Kim’s claims for compensation. “At the end of that significant litigation, (Kim) is likely to prevail, and city will likely have to bear not only its own attorney fees but also (Kim’s).”

The City Council is scheduled to discuss Kim’s letter Tuesday during its closed session meeting, which is not open to the public. Council members are scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. to discuss the possible lawsuit, before convening at 6 p.m. for their regular open session meeting at Santa Clarita City Hall.

The city does not comment on matters discussed by the City Council in closed session, Carrie Lujan, a spokeswoman for the city, told The Signal on Friday.

Hanken had not responded to calls from The Signal by press time Friday.

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3 Comments

  1. waterwatcher says:

    Oh brother! Now I have heard everything. The City had every reason to say no to this request for a gigantic commercial venture in a rural area, especially on the fire evacuation issue. There is no way Kim would win this in Court. Kim has claimed to be a billionaire and that his golf course was doing fine. I guess he feels that no one is allowed to say no to a billionaire.

  2. Jennifer Kilpatrick says:

    Attorney Garrett Hanken and his client Steve Kim better take a very close look at all of the documents Mr. Kim and his entities signed when they first made application to the City of Santa Clarita for the changed land use entitlements.

    In California, for at least 25 years, well managed cities require real estate developers to agree, in writing, that if the city is sued in connection with the requested land use entitlements, that the developer will pay, indemnify and hold the City harmless from all of its costs of attorneys fees in any litigation in connection with the proposed real estate development project. That contractual agreement applies whether the city wins or loses the lawsuit it becomes involved in.

    Santa Clarita has had a very sharp law firm over the years, Burke Williams & Sorenson. I think there’s a very good chance that the attorneys fees indemnity I described is in the City’s form documents which Mr. Kim and his company had to sign.

    Mr. Kim better be very careful about what he instructs his lawyers to do, because there’s a high likelihood that win, lose or draw he and his company will be liable to the city to pay the city’s attorneys fees.

    If the City “accidentally” took that attorneys fees indemnity out of the city’s forms, Santa Clarita’s voters and taxpayers need to demand that the protective attorneys fees provision should be put back in for ALL real estate developers to have to sign.

  3. Sue Brophy-Wagner says:

    A letter last week indicating that Kim will take the city to court “if the city maintains its denial” of Kim’s proposed Sand Canyon Resort & Spa.

    Well there you have it … threats IF THE CITY DENIES. In others words if you don’t give me what I want Kim will tie the city in a long drawn out spend endless amount of money to get his way. Is that enough proof that Kim doesn’t care about our City?

    “The litigation itself will likely be very costly to both the city and (Kim),” wrote Hanken of Kim’s claims for compensation. “At the end of that significant litigation, (Kim) is likely to prevail, and city will likely have to bear not only its own attorney fees but also (Kim’s).”

    So if the city denies the concerns about traffic, fire evacuation routes, past promises about the land’s use and the project’s compatibility in the equestrian neighborhood of Sand Canyon. Kim will do anything to get his way.

    Anyone who has driven down Sand Canyon would easily understand the concerns about traffic. And to say that our beautiful trees would be the sacrificial lambs to the project. Furthermore the equestrian neighborhood … well guess what they were there long before Kim intentions for the area. The community has made it very clear that Kim’s doesn’t respect their desire to keep the area just as it is now. Maybe just maybe he should have check his proposal before making ugly claims as he has now.

    Then there is the open space … the open space is intention is to keep greedy people like Kim from developing the area just as our national forest are in place to do the same.

    Lastly there is the race card.
    “Mr. Kim is a Korean-American immigrant, and, in the contentious debate regarding the project, there have been statements and comments suggesting that xenophobia and racial prejudice are motivating the hyper-aggressive and factually inaccurate opposition to the project.

    Here we are talking about the racial prejudice regarding the recent Covid . Kim simply cannot accept that both the neighborhood and city simply DO NOT WANT THE PROJECT THERE! We like the area to remain the same. Acceptance is the key here Kim. NO is a complete sentence!

    Nice timing on the racial card guys!

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