Judge rules against Elk Grove, Oak Rose can amend lawsuit to include subsequent city council hearings

In a setback for Elk Grove in its defense of the Oak Rose housing project lawsuit, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Stephen Acquisto granted the plaintiff's motion to file an amended complaint. Acquisto granted the motion this afternoon after a 30-minute hearing. 

The city sought to keep the plaintiff's attorneys from amending the lawsuit. The Oak Rose plaintiffs sought an amendment to include information from two additional city council hearings on the controversial Old Town supportive housing project.

Arguing on behalf of the city was attorney Scott Ditfurth of the Sacramento office of Best, Best & Kreiger, who was joined by Elk Grove city attorney Jonathan Hobbs, who did not speak during the proceedings. Attorney Karen Hallock of the Los Angeles office of DLA Piper represented plaintiff Oak Rose on the Zoom conference displayed in Department 36 of the Sacramento Superior Court.

Ditfurth argued including the information from the city council's September 27 and October 11, 2023 meetings would change the administrative records and should be excluded. The amendments the plaintiff sought for inclusion from those meetings include information on the city council's decision to reject a city staff recommendation to reverse their July 2022 denial of the Oak Rose project and grant approval, and it painted Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen and the city council in an unflattering manner. 

Ditforth argued only the July 2022 proceeding should be included in the complaint. Judge Acquisto expressed skepticism.

"Isn't it just some additional allegations that are encompassed within the factual background," Acquistio asked Ditforth. 

Ditforth replied, "It's a record case, and it should only be dealing with the July 27, 2022 hearing," and "the [amended] allegations are immaterial."

The judge shot back, "As a respondent, you don't really get to dictate what a petitioner gets to allege." 

Judge Acquisto punctured Ditforth's argument, noting that the city had two hearings on the housing project following the July 2022 denial, saying, "It is even the same issue by the same governmental body taken up two more times."

As Ditforth persisted in his argument, the judge asked him, "Doesn't this all come down to whether the city of Elk Grove has an administerial duty to grant this housing petition, or not? What do any of these things matter?"

After hearing further pleadings from Ditforth, in an exasperated tone, Judge Acquisto said he wasn't buying the argument that the amended petition changed the administrative record. Furthermore, he said the amended petition did not change any legal issues. 

"I don't even see why we are talking about this now," he added. 

A Cause of Action hearing will be heard in Department 36 on February 23, 2024.

The city of Elk Grove did not respond to an email seeking comment on today's decision. Ms. Hallock said her clients were pleased with the ruling.

"We are pleased that the Court granted Oak Rose's Motion for Leave to Amend its Petition so that the Court will have all the relevant facts before it when making its decision in this case," Hallock said. "We are hopeful that the Court's ultimate decision will provide Oak Rose with the opportunity to build critically needed permanent supportive housing in the City of Elk Grove."

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Golden Skillet said...

Unfortunately for the EGCC, they now realize words have meanings, and those words are coming to bight you in the ass!

D.J. Blutarsky said...

It all boils down to who has the deeper pockets. Oak Rose has retained on of the biggest law firms in the world, and Hobbs has his hired guns who are financed by the Elk Grove taxpayers.

I don't know about you, but my pockets are getting a little worn out by this City Council.

Eye on Elk Grove said...

Jon Hobbs didn't say a word at the hearing, as the person who told the Elk Grove City Council they could deny the project in the first place. Now he has nothing to say on the matter? Imagine that?

Why is Hobbs keeping his mouth shut now? Most likely to keep being one of the highest paid city attorneys in the region, if not the highest. For what? Now that's a question the city council should answer!

And what's more, why does the Gang of Five keep him on?

Randy Bekker said...

Deep pockets D.J. Dana has the A.G. on speed dial. Now it’s about the price, everything always has a price. If the City walks away saying to the residents we tried and then you will see properties for sale, businesses closing, the revitalization of Old Town a thing of the past. Sadly there is still those of us that wants to hold on to have the Historical District a great place to visit, shop, eat and enjoy your favorite adult beverages. However if Oak Rose is built it will set the ball rolling and it will destroy a great vision and a place we called home for over 5 decades and for some generations. I think this was always about how much money could they get from the city.

D.J. Blutarsky said...

The City has a real estate manager who is a licensed broker and presumably receives the Multiple Listings Service (MLS). How did City staff miss that the property was on the market and someone from LA scooped it up under our nose?

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