A $50 million lawsuit against the City of Long Beach will proceed after the City Council voted to cancel a stipulation approved by the city attorney without the council's knowledge that could have led to a settlement on a disputed beachfront condominium development.
The City Council voted unanimously on the motion Tuesday to cancel the stipulation that could have allowed Manhattan and Long Beach developer Sinclair Haberman to proceed on the construction of three condo towers.
City corporation counsel Corey Klein had signed the stipulation in March that could have put the lawsuit to rest and allowed Haberman to submit an application to the Zoning Board of Appeals to build the three remaining towers at Sea Pointe Towers on Shore Road.
But city officials said they only learned of the stipulation three months later. Council President Scott Mandel said in a statement that the stipulation was signed by Klein without the council's approval.
"I was not consulted or advised that a settlement was negotiated or even that a stipulation was drafted. I believe no one on the council was consulted, either," Mandel said. "As soon as we first became aware of the stipulation in June, we immediately sought new counsel to address the stipulation with the court."
Klein, who is running on the Democratic ticket for city court judge, is using accrued paid vacation until the November election. He was unavailable for comment Thursday.
Assistant corporation counsel Rob Agostisi is acting in his place. "In essence, the city didn't feel it was advantageous to move this stipulation forward," Agostisi said.
The history of the project dates back to 1985, when plans for four 10-story towers were first proposed. After one tower was completed, the zoning board revoked the variance in 2003 for the project due to parking concerns. Haberman filed suit in 2003, which was upheld by a state appeals court in 2012.
In July, the City Council hired two outside law firms to begin negotiations to revoke the stipulation. The vote was rushed onto Tuesday night's agenda once negotiations were finalized to cancel the stipulation.
Haberman's Manhattan-based attorney, Scott Mollen, said this week that Klein told Haberman company officials and a court mediator that he was authorized to sign the agreement on behalf of the city.
The stipulation said the lawsuit would be dropped if the application was approved by the zoning board, but the zoning board was not bound by the settlement, Mollen said. He said the city backed out of the stipulation, signed by Klein.