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Were Taxpayers Screwed by Gold Line's $24 Million Settlement?

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The "basket bridge" for the Gold Line Foothill Extension from Pasadena to Azusa is coming along and major construction is about to start on the 11.5 mile line, thanks to a big settlement reached last week between the construction authority and Monrovia landowner George Brokate. The GLCA agreed to fork over $24 million to Brokate to settle six lawsuits and acquire four and a half acres of Brokate's land (which it needs for a train maintenance facility)--that's four times the amount the Gold Line had appraised the land for. The Monrovia Patch looks at the deal and whether it was a bad move for us, ie, the folks paying for the light rail. The GLCA said the deal was necessary because "the delay caused by the legal process and the uncertainties related to continuing through eminent domain were very risky." Brokate wouldn't back down from his asking price and lobbed numerous lawsuits at the GLCA (accusing them of everything from conflict of interest to flawed environmental reports).

Brokate argued that he wanted a price on par with the $56 million that the GLCA paid the city of Monrovia for 14 acres of land it also needs for the maintenance yard (The math doesn't exactly pencil out the same, and that deal is currently in limbo because of the dissolution of state redevelopment agencies.). Meanwhile, the GLCA began racking up hefty attorney's fees fighting all of the lawsuits. So, why didn't the GLCA just settle years ago? Because the Authority believed it could prevail over Brokate. But as the cases dragged on, and piled on, it looked like the extension could get seriously delayed and seriously expensive, eg, adding $100 million to the train's pricetag. That could've killed the line, which is paid for in part by Measure R funds (tax increases for transpo projects) that LA County voters, including those in the San Gabriel Valley, voted for. The lesson here: fallow land near a once-abandoned train line--which the extension will run on--can make you very rich.
· Analysis: Is the Gold Line Settlement a Good Deal for Taxpayers? [Monrovia Patch]
· Gold Line Foothill Extension Settles 6 Lawsuits With $24 Million [Curbed LA]