Relocation assistance disputed

By Amanda Baumfeld


MONTEREY PARK – A cafe has filed a lawsuit against the city’s Redevelopment Agency over a project that forces the restaurant to relocate, according to court documents.

City officials want Eight Cafe at 110 Garvey Ave. to move from its location of five years because of city plans to redevelop the corner of Garvey and Garfield avenues into the Monterey Park Towne Center.

Eight Cafe’s attorney, Glenn Block of the California Eminent Domain Law Group, declined to comment about the lawsuit’s specifics.

“We are engaged in settlement negotiations with the city and developer,” Block said. “We are hopeful we can reach a settlement. If we can’t, a trial is scheduled for early next year.”

The City Council working as the Redevelopment Agency approved the mixed-use project in 2005. It includes 109 condominium units and more than 70,000 square feet of retail space and is expected to open in October 2010.

The 11 business owners and 16 families the project displaces have been offered compensation. But an attorney for Eight Cafe said they have not been offered enough money.

They also have not been offered relocation assistance or benefits to move, according to the lawsuit filed in February with Los Angeles Superior Court.

Mayor Frank Venti said these lawsuits are typical in redevelopment projects.

“They (Eight Cafe) want what they think is fair and we want them to have what is fair to them,” Venti said. “If we can
convince each other to what we each think is fair then we have a deal, but it’s never easy.”

All other litigation has been settled with the project, Venti said.

In October 2007, developer Magnus Sunhill Group allegedly gave Eight Cafe a document to sign that would waive any compensation the restaurant would be entitled to, according to the lawsuit. Eight Cafe did not sign the document.

The following month the developer doubled Eight Cafe’s rent.

The lawsuit also claims the agency has not compensated Eight Cafe for damaging its property and loss of goodwill.

Under California’s eminent domain law a business owner may be entitled to any loss of business goodwill caused by the taking of property on which the business is located.

Venti said the city is following all state guidelines and continues to try to negotiate with the restaurant.

Calls to Assistant City Attorney Adrian Guerra were not returned Wednesday or Friday.

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