As a precursor to litigation, the Whittaker-Bermite property owners have issued a notice of default to Santa Clarita over a development agreement connected to the Porta Bella project.
The notice was sent in October by Remediation Financial Inc., the company that owns Santa Clarita LLC, which owns the Whittaker-Bermite site located in the center of the city.
Due to the pending claim, the city cannot comment on the matter. On Tuesday, City Council members are expected to meet in closed session to discuss the notice, and public comment could be made after the meeting.
In the notice, RFI CEO David Lunn alleged that the city had breached the development agreement in relation to the Porta Bella project — a plan adopted about a quarter-century ago for residential and commercial development on the Whittaker-Bermite property.
The agreement, as executed in 1996, details that the developer was granted vested land-use rights and that the city agreed the developer was entitled to develop the project. The Porta Bella plan is to remain in place indefinitely until it is amended or replaced by another entitlement granted by council members in the future, according to the city’s Whittaker-Bermite website.
“(T)he city unreasonably and intentionally interfered with RFI’s rights under the development agreement with the intent to harm RFI and with the actual result of harming RFI for years,” reads the notice, adding that city officials have told Lunn the developer will have to provide a new development plan and get a new environmental impact report approved because the Porta Bella plan is defunct.
Lunn also alleged that the city “wants to divert RFI’s interest in the property” and instead have other real estate firms take over and become the new owners.
He added that RFI wants to work with the city as it is also working to sell the property — after it voluntarily filed for bankruptcy — to real estate company Prologis Inc. for possible commercial and residential development.
“It is our desire to work together with the city to make RFI’s property a solid revenue base for the city, to develop regional roads, create one or more sports complexes and parks along with a hiking trail system and to build out the property,” read the notice.
The closed session meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. and city officials could make a public announcement during their regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m. To tune in, visit santa-clarita.com/agendas.