Wednesday, December 27, 2006

More on Rep. Miller and Monrovia

Another William Heisel story in the LA Times about Representative Gary Miller contains a few more interesting tidbits about his past dealings with Monrovia (see my previous post).

Some of the people Miller worked alongside in Monrovia are watching the Rancho Cucamonga deal with interest. Pat Ward, the president of MetroGroup Realty Finance Co., attempted to sell a similarly sized piece of land to Monrovia at the same time Miller was making his sale. Both of them were on a committee the city formed in the early 1990s to write guidelines for hillside development.

Ward said building on the land was not feasible. The terrain was too difficult, and, with a growing public sentiment against development, they knew it would be a hard fight.

Still, Ward said, Miller argued effectively that his land was ready for homes and ended up getting twice as much for his property as Ward did. He said Miller was able to pay for multiple third-party appraisals of his property.

The city ended up paying for three appraisals of its own, moving the price gradually up from $5 million to about $12 million, despite the objections of some state officials.

"All of his political connections allowed him insight into how the system worked," said Glen Owens, a member of the Monrovia planning commission. "It was a numbers game, and we kept getting appraisals until we had a number he was happy with."

Miller in turn reported that the land had been taken from him by the city under eminent domain and was able to shield an estimated $10 million in profit from capital gains taxes, The Times reported in August.

He used the same eminent domain exemption again in 2005 and 2006 when he sold land to Fontana. In all three cases, city officials say that there was no threat of eminent domain.

In other Monrovia news, the city council has voted to spend some money on fire and police related expenses, as summarized by Emanuel Parker of the Pasadena News here.

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