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Top County Planners Miss Parcel in Las Lomas Review

File on key piece of property had been deleted.

Posted: March 3, 2008 6:45 p.m.
Updated: May 2, 2008 5:02 a.m.
Top county planners assigned to look into the ownership of Las Lomas property are going back to the drawing board after The Signal called asking about a key parcel of Las Lomas property left out of their review.

On Dec. 10, 2003, Las Lomas developer Dan S. Palmer submitted a zoning and subdivision application to the county planning office. The application lists the Las Lomas Land Co., LLC, as both the owner and applicant of the land in question, specifically 14 separate parcels, each averaging about 35 acres.
Topping the list of parcels named by Palmer is the one that doesn't appear on the county's recent review of his property.

The parcel of land is significant because it links a Western section of properties on one side of the mobile home park to ones on the east side of it. Without it, the properties are not connected. About 40 acres in size, the parcel of steep terrain juts up the hillside on the east side of The Old Road.

Christina Sciupac of the assessor's office is a Property Owners Advocate whose job involves tracking down elusive land titles. She's now been assigned to track down the map for APN 2827-028-004.

"I need to send someone down to the archives for a dusty old map book and bring that book back to me," she said Friday.

"That file was deleted in 1984," she said about the APN. "I also went to our mapping books and it is not in our database. It's the hard way to do it, but it's the only way to do it.

"It's not like the land disappeared," she explained, pointing out that the land most likely was re-defined and assigned a different assessor number.

Only one document, she said, is on file attached to the deleted property. The Signal found that document Thursday at the land titles archives in Norwalk.

The names listed on a 'Grant Deed' for the property include notable developers: Joel A. Rottman and Norman Burnam listed as limited general partners; and limited partners Stephen Gunther and Urban G. McLellan.

The deed details an understanding between the First American Title Co. of Los Angeles and a limited partnership, Urban West Communities - Valencia. It begins: "The remaining interest in all oil, gas and other hydrocarbons, substances and other minerals lying below a depth of 500 feet."

Urban McLellan, now based in San Luis Obispo, said he knows the other people named in the deal and recalls, albeit vaguely, that the property wasn't about gas or oil but about development.

"We did have a project up there," he said, reached by phone Friday. "I don't know what happened to it."
McLellan, now the Land Entitlement Manager for Centex Homes, was instrumental in some developments inside Valencia before he moved north up the coast.

Last year, he received the Government Affairs Award from the Homebuilders Association of the Central Coast.

Steve Gunther, now president of New Urban West Inc., was reached Friday at his office in Santa Monica, at the recommendation of McLellan.

"I know nothing about what you're talking about," Gunther said.

Last year, Gunther was ranked 22 in the 25 top real estate sellers in Los Angeles County.


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