Tag: settlement

Malibu City Council Advances Permanent Skate Park Project

March 7, 2024 ·

Movement is being made on a permanent skate park in Malibu. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

MALIBU—On Tuesday, March 5, the city of Malibu indicated in a press release that the Malibu City Council took action towards a Permanent Skate Park for its residents. In a 3-2 vote, they approved a settlement agreement with the neighboring property owner, who previously threatened litigation, clearing the way for the project.

The city reported on its website that it is “committed to providing excellent sports and recreation facilities and programs as part of a thriving, health community, and skating has always been an important part of the Malibu culture.”

City Council held a Special meeting on March 4, 2024, to continue talks on the matter from the February 26 regular meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to share the proposed settlement offer with the community and get feedback before making a decision.

Highlights of the proposed settlement agreement include:

-Allowing the neighboring property owner to install landscaping at its own cost to improve the park and prevent graffiti along the perimeter wall of the Skate Park.

-Shifting a portion of the Skate Park 10 feet further away from The Case project homes and lowering one of the above-ground elements.

-Allowing The Case project to lease a portion of the area adjacent to the Temporary Skate Park lot for parking for $5,627 per month until construction begins on the Permanent Skate Park.

-Assigning responsibility to The Case project for all costs related to the changes made to the Permanent Skate Park and requiring a deposit of $150,000 with the City to cover any additional design and construction costs.

On November 30, 2023, the Planning Commission approved the Coastal Development Permit (CDP) for the Permanent Skate Park, and the decision was appealed by the owner of the neighboring property, where “The Case” home development project is under construction.

After filing this appeal, the owner of the neighboring property approached the city of Malibu, and the city and the property owner have been negotiating over a settlement to avoid a potential lawsuit by the property owner.

In 2019, the Malibu City Council directed staff to begin the design concept for a permanent skate park and authorized the installation of a temporary skate park. The 12,500 square-foot Permanent Skatepark will be built at Malibu Bluffs Park, providing a sports and recreation resource and safe community gathering place for youth in the region.

For information on the settlement agreement, and other details review the staff report: https://www.malibucity.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/6565?fileID=59693.

By Trevor

Allegations Of Sexual Abuse Settled By City Of Santa Monica

April 26, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—On Tuesday, April 25, the Santa Monica City Council approved settlements with 124 claimants in the amount of $122.5 million, resolving all lawsuits against the city from allegations of sexual abuse by former City employee Eric Uller.

“My heart goes out to the victims who have experienced so much pain and heartbreak,” said Mayor Gleam Davis. “The settlement is the City’s best effort to address the suffering of the victims in a responsible way, while also acknowledging that the harm done to the victims cannot be undone.”

The city reported in a press release that the claimants alleged that Uller sexually abused or attempted to sexually abuse them between the late 1980s and early 2000s when many were youth participating in the Police Activities League (“PAL”) program.

On November 15, 2018, Eric Uller was found dead inside his home from an apparent suicide. The former city employee was charged with three counts of lewd acts upon a child, two counts of oral copulation of a person under 18, and one count of continuous sexual abuse. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office revealed that Uller, 50, of Marina del Rey was expected back in court on November 15, 2018. The defendant is alleged to have abused the victims between the ages of 12 and 16 years old from December 1986 to September 1995, the prosecutor indicated.

Santa Monica Mayor Ted Winterer at the times issued the following statement on October 30, 2018:

“The recent arrest of a City employee has raised legitimate concern in our community, from this Council and from our City staff, so I want to provide a brief announcement on what we know and are able to share. Our hearts go out to anyone impacted by these deeply disturbing circumstances.  And I want to acknowledge the bravery of any and all victims that come forward to report sexual misconduct.”

“Over the last several days, there have been allegations that the City may have been aware of criminal conduct by Mr. Uller and failed in the past to address it. We take this concern seriously. We are committed to transparency and accountability. The City Attorney’s Office has retained outside counsel to conduct a comprehensive investigation of these allegations. The City is also conducting a comprehensive review of the procedures in place to protect youth participants of the PAL program,” said Mayor Winterer.

The city of Santa Monica released the following statement in response to Uller’s death:

“The City was shocked to receive this news.  Mr. Uller had been expected to appear in court this morning on the criminal charges previously filed against him.  The court was also advised of his death. The City had initiated an independent investigation into allegations that the City previously knew or should have known of, but failed to address, Mr. Uller’s alleged criminal conduct.  The City remains committed to seeing this investigation through.  The City has retained Irma Rodríguez Moises and Gabriel Sandoval at the law firm of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo to conduct an independent investigation of these allegations.  The independent investigation is already underway, and will also review whether the City had in place sufficient procedures to encourage reporting of such conduct and to ensure that reports are acted on.  The City continues to encourage anyone who has information relevant to the independent investigation to reach out directly to the independent counsel at https://www.aalrr.com/contact-cerritos or 562-653-3200.

The City also remains committed to conducting a review of the policies and practices of the many youth programs funded and operated by the City, including PAL.  The City is in the process of retaining an outside consultant, Praesidium, Inc., to review the policies and practices of its youth programs and provide guidance on best practices for preventing any future incidents of abuse.  Information about Praesidium can be found at its website, https://website.praesidiuminc.com/wp/.”

After the first allegations of sexual abuse by Uller in 2018, the city of Santa Monica expanded requirements for Child Abuse Mandated Reporter Training for all employees, volunteers, and contractors for any City-managed youth program; and created a Child Protection Committee, and established a Child Protection Officer, to oversee implementation of child abuse prevention measures across City programs.

“The City has remained vigilant by implementing best practices and strict policies to ensure that these unconscionable acts do not occur again,” said City Manager David White.

Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Santa Monica will pay $122.5 million into a qualified settlement fund, which will be allocated among the plaintiffs with the assistance of a neutral retired judge retained by plaintiffs’ counsel.

By Donald