City Reaches Settlement in Decades-Old Property Lawsuits
The city of San Diego’s legal trouble with real estate developer Roque de la Fuente II began brewing over border-area land use issues three decades ago.
De la Fuente – a Democratic candidate for President — filed the first of five lawsuits in 1995, when the Chargers lost to the 49ers in the Super Bowl and O.J. Simpson was tried and acquitted on two counts of murder.
Now, the two sides have announced a settlement of $32.5 million settlement to be paid by the city’s former insurers — $8.2 million going to the city, and $25 million to De La Fuente’s Border Business Park.
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith called the outcome “making diamonds out of coal” by avoiding yet another trial that could cost the taxpayers millions of dollars.
Goldsmith said $18.75 million of Border Business Park’s proceeds would be held in an escrow account, until the company obtains permits and infrastructure for developing the property, and meets specific benchmarks under court approval over the next five years.
“I’m leaving over $100 million on the table,” De La Fuente told NBC 7 in a telephone interview prior to a Tuesday afternoon news conference announcing the settlement. “It was my family’s decision. Right now the most important thing for me is becoming President of the United States, and I don’t need this (the litigation) distraction … I’ve got bigger fish to fry.”
According to a news advisory written by Gerry Braun, Goldsmith’s press secretary : “The city has resolved its oldest lawsuit, a hard-fought land-use dispute that began in the 1990s and once resulted in an adverse judgment against the City that (had it not been overturned) would have cost taxpayers $136 million. Instead, the City will benefit under today’s settlement of five lawsuits involving entities owned and controlled by developer Roque de la Fuente II.”
The dispute has bounced up and down the appellate court ladder, amassing millions of dollars in lawyers’ fees
In October, De la Fuente filed papers with the Federal Elections Commission to run for President as a Democrat, becoming one of seven San Diego County resident seeking the Oval Office.
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