In Pacificans for Sustainable Development's public No on L statement we said that "Measure L makes our city vulnerable to this developer's lawsuits." History tends to repeat itself if people are not informed. Now Pacificans are doing their own research, resulting in many concerned references to his litigious history in articles and letters to the editor.
Why should Pacificans care about lawsuits in other towns involving Mr. Peebles? Because, as the Tribune recently pointed out, he is now the largest landowner in Pacifica.
And since he hopes to develop his property and our community will likely have an ongoing relationship with him, we need to know who our new neighbor is. He has made many promises to Pacificans in an effort to win our votes and entitle his quarry property with the right to build housing, a financial windfall for him with unknown results for Pacifica. Naturally Pacificans will want to know if he can be relied upon to keep these promises.
In last week's Tribune one citizen reported having taken Peebles' controversial "push poll" and was worried that it mentioned the possibility of lawsuit against our city, specifically how that threat might "affect their vote." When asked directly at a recent forum if Peebles would agree not to sue the city, Mr. Peebles danced around the question, stating that it would depend on whether he felt the city's negotiating was on an "intellectual" basis. In other words, he maintains his right to sue.
It is a matter of public record that a large number of Mr. Peebles' projects have been embroiled in legal disputes. There are many newspaper articles discussing and at times strongly critiquing his methods for getting what he wants.
Of special interest is a project that Mr. Peebles seems particularly proud of, the Royal Palm Crowne Plaza Resort in Miami Beach. Earlier this year, the U.S. Court of Appeal for the 11th Circuit affirmed a judgment against one of Mr. Peebles' companies, RDP Royal Palm Hotel LP (RDP) for failing to pay the contractor who built the hotel, Clark Construction Group, Inc.
According to the court, RDP issued "hundreds of change orders and construction change directives" to the contractor even after the completion deadline had expired, all the while assuring the contractor that payments would be made. Ultimately, according to the court's opinion, "Clark ceased its work on the Resort because RDP discontinued paying Clark for work completed."
The final amount of the judgment, including attorneys' fees and costs, was approximately $17.6 million, which was finally paid off in August of this year, according to court records. The full opinion of the appellate court can be found here.
What does this portend for Pacifica? Do your own research and make an informed choice on Nov. 7.
Co-chair, Pacificans for Sustainable Development
The above was printed as a Guest Column in the November 1st, 2006 Pacifica Tribune, and is republished here with the author's permission.