As many neighbors know from reading the Viewpoint, Petrovich Development Company decided to sue not only the City of Sacramento but also SCNA, Eric Johnson and Andrea Rosen to dispute the city’s denial of his company’s request for a Conditional Use Permit to build a mega-fuel center in Curtis Park Village. This new entitlement request came several years after entitlements were granted for the entire development back in 2010. Petrovich asserted that Safeway would not build a grocery store at the southern end of Curtis Park Village unless it had a full size mega-fuel center on site.
Judge Michael Kenny of the Sacramento Superior Court is hearing the writ of mandate case. In this type of case, a developer seeking a discretionary decision, like the granting of a land use permit to build a gas station, can challenge that decision.
Petrovich is continuing to dispute the completeness of the administrative record, which will form the factual basis for a court to decide whether the City properly exercised its discretion in making its determination and whether the applicant was denied due process.
While the most recent hearing on the merits was originally scheduled for May 12, that date has been pushed back to allow time for the petitioners to conduct limited discovery on four city-affiliated individuals (former Mayor Kevin Johnson; Scott Whyte, legislative aide to former Mayor Johnson; Joe Devlin, district director for Councilmember Jay Schenirer; and former City Manager John Shirey. The California Supreme Court recently clarified (on March 3) that city-related texts and emails maintained on private devices are potentially “public documents” that may have been otherwise included in an administrative record. These four individuals may have deleted such communications before the Court’s clarification that would have required them to be maintained. The Court has allowed some limited questioning by Petrovich of these four public representatives to determine if any previously deleted documents may be recreated. At the time those public officials may have deleted relevant private texts or emails on their private devices; the law was unclear as to whether those communications were considered public records.
The May 12 hearing will now be used as a status conference for the Court to learn the result of those depositions, determine whether the existing administrative record needs to be supplemented with any additional documents, and a timeline for briefing and hearing the merits.
Assuming no additional discovery is required, a hearing on the merits of the case could be held in July or August. SCNA does not have the power to grant or deny a Conditional Use Permit for the developer, but the neighborhood group is the real party in that SCNA appealed the Planning Commission’s decision to approve the permit to the City Council, which then denied the permit.