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County Finds Las Lomas Red Flag

Posted: February 21, 2008 2:09 a.m.
Updated: April 23, 2008 5:04 a.m.
 
Los Angeles County planners say they've found a discrepancy in a land application form submitted by the Las Lomas Land Co. LLC, and are now intensifying their probe into the company and its application.

Bruce McClendon, Director of Planning for the county, told The Signal Wednesday that he's taken his probe into the Las Lomas land application to the next level after finding conflicting information on the application.

"There is a discrepancy observed," he said. "Maybe it's a discrepancy in the lag time between when people purchase property versus when any adjustments made to ownership show up on the tax rolls.

"It could be as simple as a lag in time or that they do not own it," McClendon said. "If it was the same information as to who owns the property and who is applying then there's no problem. But, since it does show a discrepancy, we now have to do further research, and maybe talk to a title company.

"We could solve this at any step but right now we're going to have to take it up to the next level," McClendon said.

On Feb. 8, The Signal reported that at least eight of the 14 parcels of land cited in an application filed by the Las Lomas Land Co. LLC, were owned by Las Lomas but that six of the parcels are owned by R. Fred McHaddad.

A 2003 Zoning and Subdivision Application listing the parcels of land show the applicant and the owner of the property as the Las Lomas Land Company LLC, signed by developer Dan S. Palmer.

On Feb. 12, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors upheld a motion made by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich calling for top planners to find the legal owners of the Las Lomas property.

Those planners include: County Chief Executive Officer William T. Fujioka; County Assessor Rick Auerbach; County Counsel Raymond J. Fortner and McClendon.

"Basically, we received a request to find who the actual owners are," Auerbach told The Signal Wednesday. "We had the actual owners and we wanted to make sure we have the correct owners. There are two owners, one of them being Mr. McHaddad."

McClendon elaborated on the information now being reviewed.

"We do have a table of parcels submitted for processing for development and a number of the parcels show a different owner than what is shown on the application submitted," McClendon explained. "The challenge for us is to determine if there's a lag in processing, meaning the time it takes property changing hands. Sometimes, it takes weeks and months to reflect a change in ownership."

On Nov. 8, 2007, an application was submitted by Las Lomas for permission to reconfigure the 14 parcels of land by merging it into one 555-acre parcel. The application shows Las Lomas as the owner and applicant.

The Signal has obtained copies of McHaddad's annual property tax bills for seven parcels of property in the Las Lomas planned area on the east side of The Old Road, between Calgrove Boulevard and the Michael D. Antonovich Open Space Preserve, six of which are included in the Las Lomas plan.

McHaddad told The Signal he never sold the property to Palmer despite having offered Palmer an option to buy the land.

The dates on each of seven tax bills mailed to McHaddad by the Los Angeles County tax collector are current and read: "Secured Property Tax for Fiscal Year July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008."

The California Attorney General, as well as the state's Department of Real Estate, are also investigating the Las Lomas land application after a request made by Assemblyman Cameron Smyth and Los Angeles City Councilman Greig Smith.

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