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Officials Call for Las Lomas Investigation

Posted: February 15, 2008 12:39 a.m.
Updated: April 17, 2008 5:02 a.m.
A state assemblyman and Los Angeles city councilman Thursday called on the state to investigate land documents filed by Las Lomas developer Dan Palmer.

The move followed reports by The Signal that Palmer is not the sole owner of property he is seeking to develop in the Newhall Pass.
Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, whose district takes in the Santa Clarita Valley, and Los Angeles City Councilman Greig Smith, representing the San Fernando Valley, called on the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office, the state Attorney General and the California Department of Real Estate to investigate what they claim are documents filed falsely by Palmer.
In a news release issued jointly Thursday, they say they want investigated "whether Las Lomas developer Dan S. Palmer committed perjury when he submitted official city and county documents stating he was the sole owner of the property to be developed into Las Lomas."
A spokesman for Smith's office said the two politicians called for the probe after The Signal published a story Feb. 8 which revealed that the Las Lomas Land Co. LLC applied to the Los Angeles County planning office in November for permission to reconfigure 14 parcel lots of land, indicating in its application that it was the owner and applicant of the 555 acres in question.
The application dated Nov. 8, 2007, a copy of which was obtained by The Signal, bears the signature of Dan S. Palmer.
However, R. Fred McHaddad of Van Nuys owns at least six parcels of the 14 listed in the application.
"You broke the story that gave us the traction to do this," Matt Myerhoff, media representative for Smith's office, told The Signal.
Thursday's call for an investigation comes two days after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors upheld a motion by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich directing top planners and lawyers to determine the legal owners of the Las Lomas property.
That's not enough for Smith and Smyth.
Both politicians stated in their news release that they want the state attorney general's office involved due to the "size and scope and multi-jurisdictional issues involving this controversial development."
Since 2002, Palmer has been trying to build a 5,800-unit housing development on the east side of The Old Road, between Calgrove Boulevard and the Michael D. Antonovich Open Space Preserve.
Los Angeles County planners identified, for The Signal, at least four other owners of property inside the 555 acres presented as Las Lomas. They include: Newhall Calgrove Estates Limited Partnership, Carole Bergin, Samuel R. Biggs and the trustee of Ralph Thomas Flora Trust.
Biggs sold his property to Palmer more than a year ago, a representative of his firm in Santa Monica said this week.
In addition, property owned by Carole D. Bergin also was sold to Palmer more than a year ago.
Bergin spoke out in Palmer's defense Thursday when reached by phone at her home in North Hollywood.
"We were trying to help Dan Palmer. This guy is an upstanding guy, and I think he's getting a bad rap," said Bergin, who's known Palmer for 15 years.
"I'm really upset," she said, referring to recent media reports about him. "He comes from a nice family.
"It's a political thing. Newhall Land and (Farming Co.) doesn't want him to build there ... they don't want this guy to build, and that's not fair. (Palmer) had a really nice project in mind and they stopped it."
Bergin and her late husband served as co-plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by Palmer against the city of Santa Clarita in 2003.
She said the surviving daughter of the Flora family - one of the other Las Lomas landowners identified by the county - also sold her inherited land to Palmer.
Palmer, whom Bergin describes as "discouraged" over the opposition to his project, paid Bergin's taxes on the property before he bought it from her outright, she said.
"He would pay us a little money to hold the property, always on time," she said.


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