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BY BRADEN CARTWRIGHT
Daily Post Staff Writer
A judge has rejected a lawsuit by developer Chop Keenan, who sued the city of Palo Alto for overcharging him for fees to compensate for a lack of parking at one of his downtown office buildings and then spending the money illegally.
Keenan appealed Judge Cynthia Lie’s ruling last month, and the Palo Alto City Council will discuss the lawsuit with its attorneys in a private session on Oct. 19.
Lie said Keenan failed to present evidence of his claims, and he didn’t file his request for a refund within the five-year statute of limitations. Keenan argued the city is charging developers for not building parking, and then turning around and using the money for unclear purposes.
How ‘in-lieu parking fund’ works
The city has a formula for how many parking spaces a developer must create in each project. But the developer can build fewer spaces if they pay $116,000 per un-built space into an “in-lieu parking fund” that is meant to pay for downtown parking garages and lots.
Keenan built an office building at 135 Hamilton Ave. and paid the city nearly $1 million in 2013 instead of building 15 parking spaces.
Keenan said the fees haven’t been used for their stated purpose of downtown parking garages and lots, violating the city municipal code and the California Mitigation Fee Act.
The Fee Act requires cities to maintain separate accounts for each type of fee collected and publicly account for their use with annual reports.
Keenan claimed in his lawsuit the city had promised to use the in-lieu fees to build more parking garages. But a long-promised garage at the corner of Hamilton and Waverley Street was canceled by council in 2019.
Judge’s appointment is ironic
The money saved in the parking fund has not been accounted for, the suit claimed. But Lie sided with the city. She said Keenan failed to present evidence of his claims, and the fees are not subject to the Mitigation Fee Act.
Ironically, Judge Lie was named to the 6th District Court of Appeal in August. She will not review Keenan’s appeal.