PARTIAL LIST OF CASES
Gold Line Construction Authority, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and City of Monrovia, Eminent Domain/CEQA
Robert P. Silverstein prevailed on behalf of the owner of 4.5 acres of industrial property in the City of Monrovia which the Gold Line Construction Authority attempted to take by eminent domain for a light rail maintenance and operations yard. Mr. Silverstein was lead counsel in four lawsuits (and participated in two others) against various governmental agencies. Among other victories, Mr. Silverstein prevailed in a CEQA trial against the Gold Line. In the eminent domain case, the Gold Line had deposited approximately $5.5 million as probable just compensation for the taking. At the conclusion of the cases, Mr. Silverstein succeeded in obtaining $24 million for his client, which was the exact figure he had fought for. The Recorder listed this as the highest eminent domain settlement in all of California for 2012.
City of Los Angeles, Eminent Domain/CEQA
Robert P. Silverstein won a major victory for his client Bernard Luggage, a 60-year-old family business at Hollywood and Vine. The case garnered national attention. When the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (CRA) attempted to use eminent domain to acquire almost an entire city block to allow developers to build a hotel, condominiums and retail, Mr. Silverstein filed three lawsuits alleging CEQA, land use and due process violations, violation of the Political Reform Act, fraud and unauthorized destruction of a building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Bernard Luggage building had been designed by Carl Jules Wyle, who also designed the Brown Derby. In what was described by the Los Angeles Times as a “remarkable compromise,” the CRA agreed to preserve a major portion of the building by incorporating it into the development, and Bernard Luggage now retains full ownership of its property. Of the approximately 30 business and/or property owners at the site, Bernard Luggage was the only one to maintain ownership of its property, with the project build around it. This resolution was unprecedented because in recent years, Hollywood has undergone significant demolition at the expense of much of its historic past. Mr. Silverstein battled the CRA and City of Los Angeles for nine months. The outcome of the case was largely due to his specialized knowledge of CEQA, land use, eminent domain, and Public Records Act laws.
City of Los Angeles, CEQA and Due Process
Robert P. Silverstein prevailed in a CEQA and due process trial against the City of Los Angeles and the developer of a proposed 20-story tower at Hollywood and Gower. Mr. Silverstein proved that the City’s certification of an Environmental Impact Report for the project was illegal because the City had failed to properly analyze and mitigate traffic and parking impacts. Mr. Silverstein also proved that the City, through its Planning Department, had denied his client a fair hearing by systematically suppressing information, by lying to the public, and by back-filling the administrative record with documents after the public hearing had closed. The judge invalidated all of the project approvals.
City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles CRA, Eminent Domain/CEQA
Mr. Silverstein represented Molly’s Burger and the family that owned and operated this historic roadside eatery in Hollywood dating to 1929. Molly’s had been declared a historic resource in a survey prepared by the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency. The preparation of that historic resources survey, in turn, was the result of separate litigation won by Mr. Silverstein. (See entry regarding Mr. Silverstein’s representation of Hollywood Heritage.) Although Molly’s was on a month-to-month tenancy, Mr. Silverstein secured a $1.1 million settlement for Molly's.
Los Angeles CRA, Public Records Act
Robert P. Silverstein prevailed in a California Public Records Act trial against the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency. He was successful in obtaining mandamus compelling the CRA to make available for inspection backup tapes, and succeeded in obtaining a ruling that the CRA had waived claims of attorney-client privilege and work product. The CRA filed an emergency writ petition and sought an emergency stay with the Court of Appeal, which was summarily denied. The CRA then filed a Petition for Review to the California Supreme Court, which was also denied.
State of California, Caltrans, Eminent Domain
Robert P. Silverstein represented four attorneys (!) who co-owned a commercial property with two small businesses on it. Caltrans wanted to take a portion of the parking lot by eminent domain, and had offered approximately $200,000. Because of diminution in value that would occur to the remainder of the property in the after condition, the clients instead sought a full taking and payment of just compensation greater than what had been offered for the part take, or what had later been offered for the full take. Mr. Silverstein succeeded in increasing the payment of just compensation by several orders of magnitude, and secured a negotiated settlement agreeable to all.
City of Baldwin Park, Public Records Act
Robert P. Silverstein prevailed in a Public Records Act trial against the City of Baldwin Park. He obtained a writ of mandamus compelling the City and its Redevelopment Agency to disclose documents related to a proposed development project for which the city sought to use the power of eminent domain.
City of Santa Ana, Eminent Domain/CEQA
Robert P. Silverstein prevailed in a CEQA mandamus trial against the City of Santa Ana. The Court found that the City had violated CEQA with regard to a proposed project, and ordered cessation of any work on the project and invalidation of all project approvals, unless and until the City fully complied with CEQA by preparing an EIR. Subsequently, the Court granted Mr. Silverstein's motion for an order immediately and unconditionally dismissing the City’s concurrent eminent domain action, which sought to take a portion of his client’s property.
Los Angeles Unified School District, CEQA
Robert P. Silverstein prevailed in a CEQA mandamus trial against the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). The Court invalidated LAUSD’s certification of an EIR for a proposed school project. The Court found that LAUSD had violated CEQA in numerous environmental areas, including project description, traffic, pedestrian safety, housing, and alternatives analysis.
Los Angeles CRA, CEQA and Land Use
On behalf of Hollywood Heritage, Inc., the oldest historic preservation association focusing on preservation of Hollywood’s cultural and historic resources, Robert P. Silverstein achieved a settlement of mandamus litigation filed against the Los Angeles CRA and the City of Los Angeles. The settlement required the CRA to prepare six different environmental studies that had been due for 22 years, but which the CRA had repeatedly failed to complete. This matter involved extremely complicated CEQA and land use issues.
City of Los Angeles, Brown Act
Robert P. Silverstein prevailed in a Brown Act trial against the City of Los Angeles, obtaining mandamus and permanent injunctive relief to stop the City’s practice of concealing major CEQA and environmental actions by using cryptic, coded references rather than providing meaningful descriptions of the actions to be taken as mandated by the Brown Act. This trial victory was featured on the front page of the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journals.
City of Glendora, Public Records Act
Robert P. Silverstein prevailed in a Public Records Act trial against the City of Glendora. He obtained a writ of mandamus and injunctive relief prohibiting the City from imposing unlawful restrictions on the public’s right to access public records, including preventing the City’s practice of requiring members of the public to fill out a city prescribed form as a condition of receiving public documents, and overcharging members of the public for public records.
City of Los Angeles, Brown Act
Robert P. Silverstein prevailed in a Brown Act trial against the City of Los Angeles. Mr. Silverstein proved that the City Council was violating the law by failing to require the City Council President or a majority of the City Council to be the ones who called special meetings, instead of their routine practice which was to delegate the task to unknown staff members out of public view. Mr. Silverstein’s work in this case and in another successful Brown Act trial against the City of Los Angeles has helped to curtail the City’s misuse of special meetings, which meetings only provide for 24-hours’ notice to the public instead of the 72-hours’ notice required for regular meetings.
City of Culver City, Eminent Domain/CEQA
Robert P. Silverstein represented two property owners against the Culver City Redevelopment Agency in eminent domain matters. He succeeded in keeping his clients in possession of the property after the City had attempted to dispossess them, and achieved significant increases in the payment of just compensation in both cases. The cases settled prior to a right-to-take trial which, in part, would have been based upon objections to the CEQA document that had been prepared by the agency as a pre-requisite to exercising the power of eminent domain.
Los Angeles Unfied School District, CEQA
Robert P. Silverstein obtained a writ of mandamus following trial against LAUSD. The Court found that LAUSD’s certification of a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) for a school project violated CEQA because it failed to prepare an EIR as to a number of environmental issues, including traffic and circulation, pedestrian safety, historic and cultural resources, population and housing issues, land use, and public services.
City of Monterey Park, Eminent Domain/CEQA
Robert P. Silverstein prevailed in a trial against the City of Monterey Park Redevelopment Agency. At trial, the Court found that the agency had violated CEQA and, as a result, that its attempted use of the power of eminent domain to seize properties for the project was invalid.
City of Rancho Cucamonga, Eminent Domain
Robert P. Silverstein represented a property owner in an eminent domain action filed by the City of Rancho Cucamonga for a street realignment project, which would have impacted a railroad project. Mr. Silverstein successfully argued that the City’s complaint was invalid because of the City’s failure to comply with laws granting the Public Utilities Commission jurisdiction over railroad crossings. The Judge dismissed the City’s case in open court.
City of Beverly Hills, CEQA and Land Use
Robert P. Silverstein represented a neighborhood group in an action which forced the City of Beverly Hills to abandon a planned zone change along 12 blocks of Wilshire Blvd. The project would have enabled four existing office buildings, totaling 750,000 square feet, to convert to high density residential use. Mr. Silverstein reduced the City’s original project to one building, and then filed a lawsuit over the one-building spot zoning. Mr. Silverstein then obtained significant concessions from the developer and City including occupancy restrictions, traffic restrictions, elimination of balconies for noise and privacy protection of neighbors, specialized asbestos removal procedures, and perpetual restrictive covenants running with the land.
City of Beverly Hills, CEQA
Robert P. Silverstein represented an alliance of homeowners, commercial property owners, and business owners opposed to a massive hotel and condominium project. Mr. Silverstein filed a lawsuit alleging violations of California Environmental Quality Act regarding a defective Environmental Impact Report. Mr. Silverstein also alleged violations of the Brown Act, zoning and land use laws, and the Statutory Development Agreement Act.
City of Beverly Hills, Public Records Act and Brown Act
In connection with the above-described hotel project, Robert P. Silverstein filed a separate lawsuit against the City Council of Beverly Hills for violation of the California Public Records Act. After completing trial, the Judge ordered the City to disclose 56 of 63 documents totaling hundreds of pages of key environmental and economic data that the City of Beverly Hills had suppressed from public view. Related to this case, Mr. Silverstein also succeeded in having the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Fraud and Corruption Investigations Unit reprimand the Beverly Hills City Council and mayor for violating the Brown Act.
City of Upland, Land Use and Mandamus
Robert P. Silverstein obtained a writ of mandamus against the City of Upland regarding the City’s improper sale of surplus public land. At trial, Mr. Silverstein succeeded in having the sale set aside because the City had not complied with Government Code requirements for offering surplus land to low income housing providers, park authorities, and school districts.
Los Angeles Unfied School District, CEQA and Public Records Act
Robert P. Silverstein helped stop a Hollywood neighborhood from being destroyed by LAUSD. The LAUSD Board announced the cancellation of Central Region Middle School #5 after Mr. Silverstein exposed the dangers of the proposed site for an elementary school, including through work with the Regional Water Quality Control Board and Department of Toxic Substances Control, and also successfully sued LAUSD in this matter under the California Public Records Act.
City of Los Angeles, Eminent Domain/CEQA
Robert P. Silverstein filed a CEQA petition for writ of mandamus and stopped the taking by eminent domain of the historic Florentine Gardens by the City of Los Angeles. Built in 1938, the Florentine Gardens is the last surviving nightclub from Hollywood’s Golden Era and was the site of one of Marilyn Monroe’s weddings and the venue where several recording and film stars were discovered.
Los Angeles Unified School District, Eminent Domain
Robert P. Silverstein represented the owner of an apartment building in Huntington Park. LAUSD had filed a complaint in eminent domain to acquire the property. Mr. Silverstein's efforts increased LAUSD’s payment from $735,000 to $1.3 million (77% increase over initial offer).
State of California, Caltrans, Eminent Domain
Robert P. Silverstein represented three churches in Westchester, near LAX. Caltrans filed a complaint in eminent domain to acquire an easement on church property, and offered $25,000 as probable just compensation. Using special evidentiary valuation rules for religious institutions, Mr. Silverstein argued for damages of $250,000. In response, Caltrans abandoned the acquisition, left the property untouched, and paid all of the churches’ attorney fees and costs.
City of Los Angeles, CEQA
Robert P. Silverstein represented a neighborhood association opposed to a park expansion project which would have caused adverse noise, lighting and safety impacts to the community. Mr. Silverstein filed a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles alleging violations of CEQA, including by the City’s failure to properly study the project’s environmental impacts and by adopting a Notice of Exemption. The City withdrew the project approvals and modified the project to eliminate the disputed elements.
City of Pasadena, CEQA
Based on CEQA objections, Robert P. Silverstein defeated the proposed installation of 70-foot-high pole lights for night games on athletic fields in a quiet residential neighborhood. His work also led to the construction of a sound attenuating barrier for the benefit of the neighborhood.
City of Los Angeles, Eminent Domain and Land Use
Robert P. Silverstein represented the developer of gasoline service station who was expanding his site to include a quick serve retail and drive-through restaurant. Mr. Silverstein helped the client obtain a zone change and conditional use permit. Mr. Silverstein worked with the Mayor’s development team and Councilmember’s office. Mr. Silverstein resolved complicated issues with the City’s Planning Department, Bureau of Engineering, Building & Safety Department, and Department of Transportation. Using constitutional arguments, Mr. Silverstein defeated the Bureau of Engineering’s request that the City Zoning Administrator condition approval of the project on the forced “dedication” of a portion of the client’s property and closure of one of the client’s driveways.
City of West Hollywood, CEQA
Robert P. Silverstein represented an alliance of homeowners, commercial property owners, and business owners opposed to a massive hotel and condominium project on Sunset Blvd. Mr. Silverstein prepared CEQA objections and filed a lawsuit against the City and developer. The project has not been built.
City of Palmdale, Eminent Domain
Robert P. Silverstein represented a property owner in a three-week eminent domain jury trial against the City of Palmdale. Mr. Silverstein helped to obtain a jury verdict more than 20 times the condemning agency’s initial appraisal. He was featured on the front page of the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journals for this outcome.