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Signature Properties v. school district case trial begins

Original post made on May 18, 2008

After more than five years of very-public dispute, another—and possibly decisive phase of the litigation between the Pleasanton school district and the city's premier housing developer Signature Properties is under way in the Fremont Court of Appeal.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, May 18, 2008, 9:17 AM

Comments (14)

Posted by Rick, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 18, 2008 at 9:30 am

If the district wins, which is a long shot, the district should explore the idea of building a high school on the site instead. There are not enough young children to support an elementery school in that area.

Also, I believe the legal bill for the district is over 2 million and counting.
The board is going to look pretty bad if they loose.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 18, 2008 at 12:19 pm

I completely disagree with Rick. Vintage hills school was constructed to service the Vintage hills neighborhood. Why should the school and neighborhood be overloaded by the construction of more than 1,000 homes in the vineyard corridor? A greedy developer should not be left off the hook for building a school to service the multi-million neighborhoods they construct. The city should prohibit further construction by these developers until the school is completed.


Posted by I saw him, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 18, 2008 at 1:05 pm


WOW!!!!!!

"McKeehan's testimony was continued to the afternoon court session after a lunch break. But just as a cross examination by the school district attorneys began, the courthouse went black,"

Could this have been an act of God for the deceit in Mr. McKeehan's testimony. Everyone that watched the negotiations saw him commit to building that school for 8.5 mil. making cute quips about his wife's role as our City Manager at the time.





Posted by John Q Public, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 18, 2008 at 1:33 pm


There was no doubt in the minds of the public watching that Signature was clear in stating they would build the school for 8.5 mil.

The law firm that advised PUSD to enter into this contract with Signature is the same firm that is representing PUSD in the current litigation. They continue to collect fees in this litigation that is based on their poor representation in the contract negotiations. PUSD has paid them more than half a million in legal fees already and continues to use them as council on this and other matters as well.

Two of our trustees at the time were attorneys. If you are questioning how we could be in this position read the link that was posted on another thread.

The District used a law firm called 'Lozano Smith' for their legal advice. Why would Pleasanton contract with a law firm that was recently sanctioned state-wide by a Federal judge for ethics violations? He ordered the entire firm to have ethics training and indicated Lozano Smith engaged in "repeated misstatements of the record, frivolous objections to plaintiff's statement of facts, and repeated mischaracterizations of the law." Take a look at this article from this law web site.
Web Link

Posted by Michael, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on May 17, 2008 at 12:17 pm




Posted by Rick, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 18, 2008 at 5:30 pm

John Q public

I read the link and it is disturbing. One must weigh the risks of litigation
as well as the motives of the lawyers involved.

Regarding the cost of litigation, the number I got from the council was over 2 million to date. They tempered that by saying that it was from the infrastructure budget so it would not affect the students. I disagree. 2.5 million dollars could make a lot of capital improvements which are much needed or cover half of the shortfall this year
Due to the state budget cuts.

When you come to the voters and ask for more money in the form of a parcel tax,
you must establish the public's funds are not being wasted.


Posted by Rick, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 18, 2008 at 8:23 pm

Correction:


The district bill to date is around 1.475 million to date according to the council's
public info officer.


Posted by John Q, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 18, 2008 at 8:35 pm


1.5 mil to pay the incompetent attorney that negotiated a poor contract more money........

Signature Properties gives developer's their bad name.



Posted by Bill, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 19, 2008 at 3:27 pm

Fortunately not all developers in the community operate under the same ethical practices as Signature Properties.


Posted by Sam, a resident of Downtown
on May 19, 2008 at 7:54 pm

The attorneys that are in trial for the District are not the attorneys that wrote the contract. Different law firm totally.


Posted by Jim, a resident of Jensen Tract
on May 19, 2008 at 8:46 pm


There is no question that Harold from Lazano Smith was representing and advising the school district to enter into this contract with Signature Properties. He said it was "Iron Clad" and a good deal for the district because Signature was refusing to honor the previous contract.

The discussions were televised. Mr. McKeehan's promises are caught on video.

Harold is still PUSD's lead attorney on this litigation.

There was always suspicion that Signatures attorney's wrote their own contract but PUSD's attorney, Harold, was representing the district at the time.



Posted by Reality check, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 22, 2008 at 7:20 pm

Use some common sense people, no developer is going to enter into an "open checkbook" agreement with a school district. The district absolutely "could have" built the school as agreed for 8.5 Million, instead they dragged their feet while determine whether or not the school was really needed? As many developers have said in the central valley as that market has collapsed. They are perplexed by those who are faulting them for selling houses for the market rate consumers are wanting to pay and trying to sue the developers for "lost equity". As one developer responded, "I have never in the 25 years of my company asked any homeowner to share thier increase in equity value with me, why should I have to share the loss"?

To think any developer would agree in principal or otherwise to an open ended blank check agreement is obsurd, and now the district is pouring good money after bad to make things worse.


Posted by Phil, a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on May 23, 2008 at 7:47 am

I saw the meeting where a council member asked the City Attorney to confirm if the cost of the school went over $8.5M, would the developers (Signaure and Standard Pacific) be paying the amount over the $8.5M. Our City Attorney said "yes" and at the time he said this, Signature's legal council was there and he did not refute this. So that means Signature's representative was deceitful by not correcting this if they never had an intention of paying this extra amount. The deal was, Signature was going to pay a lower fee than other developers (about $2 less per square foot) and in exchange, they would be building the school for $8.5M. Why do you think the city and the school district would have accepted this deal of a lower fee per square foot if there was not something that Signature was going to do to make the $2/foot less a "good investment"?

Did anybody find it a problem that Mr. McKeenan is married to our City Manager at the time (Deborah McKeenan) and the City Manager was still representing the City on this contract and the problems that came afterwards? Talk about a big financial interest conflict.


Posted by Fred, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 23, 2008 at 3:08 pm

Many of us had a very BIG problem with the conflict of interest but we were largely ignored. When she was finally told to recuse herself she threw quite a fit. She was a very good city manager before her marriage caused the conflict of interest.

The video of that fateful meeting still exists despite that the official copy mysteriously got erased. There are a number of personal copies, it would be great is CTV30 would air it.





Posted by Jack, a resident of Downtown
on May 24, 2008 at 11:34 am

The school district never wanted the school. The school district never intended to build or operate the school. The school district wanted the land, so just as they have done in Stoneridge, Del Prado and other neighborhoods over the years, they could sell it. It's a money grab, plain and simple. That's why Signature wanted to "build" the school, not just pay huge fees. Now that Ruby Hills is sold out, Signature has no motivation to build it, and the school distict still has their hand out... It stinks all around.


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