Friday, December 2, 2016

Planning Commission Blows The Roof Off Wm. Kefalas

He's in property management.
It was an action packed Planning Commission meeting last night. Watching William Kefalas slowly come to the realization that there could actually be consequences for what had done to the Henry A. Darling house was quite a sight. No matter how hard he tried, William couldn't talk his way out of it. I am not sure he is used to that. He appeared to need to run full tilt at something he couldn't quite knock down, only to discover too late that it was a brick wall. Here is some of what we saw.

Attorney Highsmith made it clear that the only way to penalize the owner with a fine was to turn it over to the District Attorney for criminal prosecution. The DA, in her opinion, would not be interested. So what do we have as a financial remedy to this kind of act? Not enough. The Planning Commission does have the ability to stop the work for two years. That was the only possible punishment. Talk about a stacked deck in favor of dishonest developers.

The owner started off by thanking the community for showing an interest, and then apologized. Yep, thanks and I’m sorry. No, really. “I realize the situation has put you in a dilemma,” he said to the commissioners. The "situation” did it, not him, huh?

William had questions about the “technical feasibility” of the suggestions the Planning Commission made. When he said “There is a huge project undertaking here,” it was as though this had not occurred to him before.

Commissioner Hinton showed she has the chops to have been an effective prosecutor. Twice she asked him to answer whether he had been told by the agent that the house was potentially historic. He waffled and wiggled, so she asked again, stressing the word potentially. When Kefalas threw Reni Rose under the bus by saying “No,” Ms. Hinton asked if he would provide the disclosure papers to the commission. They would be interesting reading.

Another “feasibility” problem arose when William was asked about what he did with the wainscoting and the ceiling. It wasn’t “feasible” to store it, he claimed. So off to the dumps in trash trucks it went.

Commissioner Spears asked if the owner had inspected the property before he bought it. Was he aware of the challenges with the foundation? When the owner said yes, Spears inquired “So you went into this with your eyes open?” Then Spears, with some open eyes of his own, asked the owner what he meant when he said “my crew,” and was he a contractor. The owner replied that “We are in property management so I do have people who work for me.”

Hinton asked if the owner would be will to reduce the size of the house, to get it back closer to what it was, and he said “No.”

An architect got up from his seat to say they should hire an architect. One versed in the special needs of 100 year old houses, because obviously what they had now was clueless.

Richard Crea (?), who resides in the Canyon, asked “What did you buy it for in the first place?" The owner knew exactly what he was doing and tore it apart as fast as he could. Crea said it would be fitting if they had to give it back to nature for awhile, and then start again.

A woman named Laurie told the commissioners, “Your response should match what was done to this house. Otherwise, you’re saying it’s okay." Heather Allen said it was both tragic and ironic.

Mary (Radford?) gave a great talk about having seen the house and wanting to buy it. She also said the realtor did not identify the Henry A. Darling house as being historically significant, but that when she saw the house being hauled away in dump trucks it was terrible. Everything should have been salvaged.

John Hutt asked Mary if she was certain the realtor never disclosed the historic nature of this house to her. She said yes, and that part of the mystery then deepened further.

The Planning Commission was pretty tough on Kefalas, especially Bob Spears. Bob seemed quite determined to convince William that there are consequences to such wrong acts, and that he needs to put on his big boy pants and accept that.

The biggest penalty they could give Kefalas is to reduce the size of the home he can build because that add-on to the left side impacts on the historical nature of the house. That's what Kefalas was most worried about. Smaller house, smaller profit. Or maybe none. He was ok with everything else because it doesn't deviate that much from his original plan.

The catch here is that if the city had the Historical Resource Report in their hands in advance of the CUP, the Planning Commission would never have allowed what they did. And should Kefalas get impacted in that way, that would be a far better penalty than even a 2-year stay on building.

Pleading poverty, Kefalas suggested that if he didn't get his way, he might just walk away from the project. Nobody seemed all that bothered by the threat.

Bob Spears said at the meeting that in his 10 years on the Planning Commission, he and the rest of the commissioners have never received so many emails against what Kefalas did.

This will all pick back up at the second Planning Commission meeting in January.

Preserve Sierra Madre weighs in
Dear Supporters: First, we again want to thank our supporters for taking an interest in preservation and, in particular, what happened to the 1907 Craftsman known as the Henry A. Darling House.  At last night's meeting, Commissioner Spears said that in his 10 years on the Planning Commission, he has never received so many emails about one issue as he did in this case. So thank you to all those who were able to take the time to do that as well as attend the meeting.   It makes a difference when the Planning Commission knows the pulse of the community before they are called upon to make a vote.

In briefly summarizing the meeting, to say the Planning Commission was not pleased with the actions of the present owners of 126 E. Mira Monte would be an understatement. They concluded that the owners had violated the Demolition Ordinance and they agreed with the Historical Resources Report that the Darling House has historical significance. The only problem is that they received the report after the demolition had occurred. If the Planning Commission had received it prior to the demolition as called for in the Demolition Ordinance then they would not have allowed the owner to do certain things to a home that had been deemed historically significant.  It appears now that what already was improved in the CUP, now needs to be modified in light of this new information.

The Planning Commission is now left with the dilemma of whether to punish the applicant by imposing a 2-year work-stoppage on the project and perhaps further damaging what little is left of the house or allowing the project to go forward but under very strict guidelines that are consistent with the determination that the home is historically significant. Before that can be done, the applicant was asked to get a Certificate of Appropriateness which will now put the historical aspects of the home at the forefront.  Once the Planning Commission has all the facts, they may be able to make a final decision as to the fate of the Darling House and punishment for the owners at their January 19th meeting.

It cannot be overstated what a great job our Planning Commissioners, City Attorney and City Staff are doing to ensure that the people's desire for preserving our historical resources is taken into account.   If you weren't at the meeting, you can go to the City's website and watch it online for yourself.

Thank you for your support.
Steering Committee
Preserve Sierra Madre

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sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

80 comments:

  1. So I guess that staff's recommendation that the post demolition demo permit be approved didn't quite make it with the commissioners.

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    1. Staff gets a little too cozy with applicants who they are interacting with all the time. That's the problem.

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    2. We pay the salaries of the City Staff. They need to start looking out for our interests and not be recommending that Kefalas skate away from this untouched after violating the demolition ordinance.

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    3. This PC doesn't rubber stamp anything.

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  2. What can we do about other homes that are not architecturally significant, but should not be torn down, but simply kept up? There is at least one home that I know of that has been basically abandoned since it was purchased over two years ago. I fear the owners are just waiting for it to deteriorate to the point that it would be approved for demolition and an out of place home be built, a la Arcadia.

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    1. I guess you could kill them.Our revoke the 5th amendment to the constitution? Maybe vote in a Communist government?Maybe a Nazi like regime of some form that you and the rest of the ¨good people¨ would control in perpetuity. Possibly a test of persons that want to spend monies on real estate to make sure they think properly? Its always easy to control them with guns and money

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    2. Seems like a radical strategy.

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    3. A deteriorating home that becomes an eyesore can be reported to the city. If the home is not over 75 years old, then it can be torn down.

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  3. Thank you Planning Commissioners. Thank you very much.

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    1. Bob Spears is as tough as nails. He doesn't suffer fools at all. Thank God he's on the Planning Commission looking out for all of us. The others were great as well. Leslee Hinton asked some very tough questions and follow up questions when Kefalas tried to bob and weave. Kefalas has lost all credibility. He's caught caught red-handed and now he's trying to lie his way out of it.

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    2. Spears has a home that is over 100 years old. He knows what he's talking about.

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  4. Keflas is reported to have said in this meeting that he would "walk away" from the project if the punishment (building size restriction) is too severe. In other words he is still insulting us and defying the Rules. 'Give me what I want or I am leaving'. Seize on this folks ! Get him to take his toys and leave. Run him outa town on a rail.
    Amazingly defiant hubris from a man publicly humiliated by his lies and deceit - still tries negotiating a better deal. NOT IN MY TOWN !

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    1. Interesting point of view. Where I´m from,Sierra Madre, we call it a rational business decision or freedom of choice.¨reported to have said¨assumption based on innuendo or created fact for your convenience? And who is us? got a mouse in your pocket?

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    2. If you would like to live in a town where people can build whatever they like and codes and ordinances have no effect, try Tijuana.

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    3. OK,but there is a big difference in building whatever you like and the choice to not build and move on. Again assumption based on innuendo for your convenience. Are you the Trump guy?

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    4. Really? You think there is a difference? Kefalas illegally demo'd an historic property, broke the law doing so, and now he is threatening to leave the ruins behind if he doesn't get to do as he wishes? Obviously the guy cares about nothing but himself.

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    5. It's not admirable but it's an option. I think we're saying the same thing but you're a bit hysterical possibly.
      How ´bout that wind?........

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    6. Once your dumb argument has been run to ground you have nothing to resort to but insults. I'll assume that the source of all that wind must be yourself.

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    7. You are the Trump guy! The pot calling the kettle black silly little thing.....
      No need to bring the hearing impaired into this,or TJ. I am glad you're a mindreader though.

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    8. He had the nerve to plead poverty. "Oh, I can't afford to rectify what I caused by violating the City's rules". I have no sympathy for him. Cost is not our problem. He says he's a property manager. I suspect he manages his own properties so he's quite well off but even so that's irrelevant. This guy is a liar.

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    9. He's not going to walk away. That a bluff. Pleading poverty and reminding the Planning Commission he has 3 kids was just desperation. He owns property. That's his business besides The Only Place in Town. He has the money to rectify his mistake and he needs to pay the piper.

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  5. The scolding should have been, "all for one, one for all". So, everyone "thought" the house is/ was historical. Why wasn't the Planning Commission and City staff asking for the historical study up front? Seems like the City missed the mark on this one. Also seems like they may have avoided a legal action from new owner.
    If the report came before the Commission, the demolition permit would have been issued under different guidelines.
    Seems to be a no brainer. Its an old house, everyone "thought" it may be historical, but no one; including the realtors mentioned that a historical study be made.

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    1. The issue was the illegal demolition. Now that the owner has requested an after the fact demolition permit the historical study has come into play. Whether Reni Rose passed the word about the historical status of this house to the current owner is as of yet unknown. However, since she was also the Realtor for the Browns, she almost certainly must have known about what went on previously. Their dealings with the architectural historian of record couldn't have been a secret to this realtor. His verdict on the historical nature of the HA Darling house was an important factor in the Brown's decision to sell.

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    2. There is only pain and suffering by having your home deemed "historical" remember we've been through this 20 years ago.

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    3. What happened 20 years ago?

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    4. I suspect that Reni Rose did disclose to the buyers that the home may be architectural significant based upon what the architectural historian Charles Fisher told her clients. If she didn't tell all buyers, then she was negligent.

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    5. What happened 20 years ago,It's a long story.......

      http://articles.latimes.com/1998/jan/02/local/me-4279

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    6. Big difference between replacing shingles and tearing down a 110 year old Craftsman with getting a demo permit.

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    7. Like I said it's a long story,you can research it yourself if you're interested in the whole fiasco.
      The L.A. times is great for research BTW they have made every story they have ever in their history available free on line.

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  6. The woman who looked at the house with the intent to buy it and stated that the realtor told her it was not historically significant was asked by Hunt if that was actually what the realtor said. As she walked back to her seat her husband called out to her. She turned to the podium and said from the audience that maybe what was said that it wasn't on a historic "list" (which was true) and that not that it wasn't historic as such. It was a good catch by Hunt and you had to be in the audience to see the way this piece of "information" was teased out from the misstatement.

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    1. That's right. She was confused and wasn't clear. Sure it wasn't a historical landmark but that's a far cry from it not being historically significant. She clarified what she said as she sat down.

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    2. The definitions are specific, the remarks were general. What she said to the commission was that walking into the house, anyone could see it was clearly historic. That's different than saying it is of historical significance. Either way, I'm betting that Reni Rose is asking her lawyers to write a letter to the commission to put the blame squarely on potential and actual buyers.

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  7. We'll never eat at Only Place in Town again and will urge others to do the same.

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    1. I'm don't want to buy food from someone who turns around a tells a member of the audience to "Shut Up!"

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    2. William Kefalas has been showing his true colors every time he opens his mouth up there at the podium. He's arrogant and obnoxious. He also has no remorse for what he did.

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    3. Remorse? hah! This is the kind of person who only gets increasingly belligerent the more problems he creates.

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    4. No soup for you! Come back two years!

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  8. I had a breakfast bowl and latte' at Bean Town this morning. Not bad!

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    1. Opportunistic scumbag, to say the least.

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  9. I'll stop in for a burger at the Only Place in Town.
    I thought the issue was; that too much roof line had been removed?

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    1. If that is all you heard last night then you must have stuffed that burger in your ears.

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    2. I'm not going there because the roof line was removed, I'm not going there because the guy is an $%#hole.

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    3. Did you see his contractor snickering in the back. These are not very nice people.

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    4. Yea but they're "good" Christians and go to church all the time.......

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    5. Who was that guy "Richard" who lives in the Canyon on Woodland. He's was great up there. He also traded words with Kefalas after Kefalas told him to shut up.

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    6. Canyon Richard was eloquent, rational and sincere - no wonder Kefalas went after him.

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    7. Keefer seemed a little on edge.

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  10. Better latte' than not understanding it at all !

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  11. So of Keyfails doesn't get his way he'll just leave that skeleton structure on the lot? Did he pay a million dollars cash for that place, or does he owe money to a bank?

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    1. I don't know but I'll bet that as an empty lot it's worth more than a lot with a historical old dump on it.He wins either way.

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    2. He has a loan of $500,000 on the property.

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    3. He will do as he is told to get his money back. The best he can do at this point.

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    4. A public records search reveals that William Kefalas owns:
      809 E. Lemon in Monrovia
      381 Ramona in Sierra Madre
      267 Montecito in Sierra Madre
      110 W. Sierra Madre Blvd in Sierra Madre
      126 E. Mira Monte in Sierra Madre
      So the guy owns millions of dollars in property under his name and may own more under another name. The only property management he does is on his own properties. And he has the nerve to tell the Planning Commission that he can't afford to correct his mistake. The lies just keep coming from this guy.

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    5. Hey Sherlock, those addresses reflect where he lived, not what he owns. Try it with your own name or someone you know.

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  12. since the house is ruined, put the 2 year hold on the lot!

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    1. I like what Commissioner Hinton said. Maybe its better to send a message to Kefalas and all others like him and lose this one house which may save alot more houses in the long run.

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    2. There is a sucker born every minute,I don't think the city can put a hold on the sale of the lot only on permits for the present owner as I understand it.I Could be wrong?

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    3. Could you be wrong? Sure. Nobody is perfect.

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    4. Um Thank You? Have you any knowledge or insight on the subject at hand?
      How ´bout that wind?........

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    5. Still blowing hard.

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  13. Do the math. 2year hold in a 500,000 lot. The guy will still come out ahead and then build a bigger better house.
    He should rebuild the footprint of the Darling house as he has stated that he will do along.

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    1. I think you're right, 2:36. He has known what he's been doing all along. Real jerk.

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    2. The approved plans and CUP call for rebuilding to the same footprint of the old house, and that's what he just want to do. There is so much whining about this wothout knowing the facts. Learn how to read plans and get your facts straight. You don't believe in our Laws, go live in Russia or an undevelopped third country.

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    3. Ironic comment. If Kefalas had followed the city's laws none of this would have happened. Why do you think the city red tagged this awful project? They liked the color?

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    4. 9:40AM - Kefalas is the one who willfully called the city to ask for advice o how to handle rotten wood, missing cribwalls, and leaning front and back walls, all of which are against the building code. He offered to remove and replace in kind, but the inspector didn't know how to deal with it and had no immediate answer, so he red-tagged the site until he convened with the office.

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  14. Not convinced that the guy acted in a maleficent way when he insisted that the instructions on the demolition permit were followed, but the "crew" worked ahead of schedule.

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    1. Come on you don't really believe him?

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  15. The right way to handle this problem is to order that the house be put back to it's original design and give them 2 years to finish it. The city should not fall for this tactic of getting what the builders want and not what the city wants.

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  16. Why does it fall on the Planning Commission alone to enforce city codes and ordinances. Don't we pay city staff a ton of money to do jobs like that?

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  17. And the City does enforce the codes and ordinances. But they give their buddies a Pass. And if they get meals comped ,they get the inside information and coaching on how to evade the codes and ordinances. Come on folks, Kefalas owns at least 6 properties here, is in the Property Management business. He knew that he penalty ws mere slap on the wrist so he is giving you all the finger - and enjoying that you keep coming back for more 'middle finger' .
    But the problem is not Kefalas. It is a corrupt and incompetent City Hall Management.Until that is changed,nothing changes here.
    Meanwhile the City harasses small homeowners trying to fix up their homes.

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  18. 3:53pm. That's what what Kefalas said he was planning to do all along. That Canyon Richard guy was a idiot, the City Chambers are not a place for someone to behave like they are at a Soccer match.

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    1. I dunno. Sometimes at a City Hall meeting like that you'll find yourself having to endure some idiot who is just lying his fool face off and you can't resist a little heckling. City Hall isn't church, it is where democracy happens. And sometimes democracy is a little messy.

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    2. Sorry, Richard was not the idiot. Were you there? I was.

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  19. Does anyone else feel that the right way to handle this problem is to order that the house be put back to it's original design and give them 2 years to finish it. The city should not fall for this tactic of getting what the builders want and not what the city wants.

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    1. As long as they do'nt allow for any lot splitting or additions. Hit him in the pocketbook

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    2. And if he refuses, then what is your plan?

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  20. They also need to prohibit the big addition onto the now historically determined home. You can't change the look from the front and have it changed by some bid add on. That's a further violation of the historical codes that now apply. Desai did an excellent job of pointing that out. Kefalas now needs to re-work the design and he has nothing to blame but his excessive hubris.

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  21. All you all are doing is to force the owner to lawyer up and sue the city and commission for their negligent fiduciary acts. All in all, for as much as this may be intertaining to some, it will drive the city into bankrupcy. Care about your water, street conditions, crime prevention, elderly and needy, and each other. What a shame.

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    1. You make absolutely no sense.

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    2. 9:44 AM- Understood that this is beyond your practical and coherent ntelligence. It's only a matter of short time, and you'll see.

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