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City settles long-standing lawsuit over use of parking fees

The city of Claremont has one less lawsuit to worry about. Though problems persist with Golden State Water Company—who filed a lawsuit against the city in December in regards to issues surrounding the potential water system takeover—city officials have put to rest an ongoing dispute with Mike and Sue Verbal, owners of longtime Village eatery Pizza ‘N Such.

The Verbals filed a complaint against the city of Claremont in August 2012, alleging city officials violated an agreement made in regard to more than $160,000 of in-lieu parking fees paid to city.

A solution to the suit had seemed improbable after a series of unsuccessful negotiations between the Verbals and the city at the end of last year. In an unexpected turn of events last week, however, Claremont administrators finally conceded, agreeing to pay Mr. Verbal $195,000 to reimburse a portion of his parking fees and legal expenses in exchange for dropping the case.

“We contend the use of the fees was legally justified and the city did nothing to otherwise harm the Verbals, but recognized a larger risk in litigation thus we paid [Mr. Verbal] to facilitate a resolution,” said City Manager Tony Ramos.

The city’s in-lieu parking fees, the source of the Verbal’s dispute, were established in the early 1980s as a substitution for business owners who are required to provide a certain amount of designated parking to accompany their business. In-lieu parking fees can come in handy in areas, like the Village, where adding additional parking is not a viable solution because the space is already essentially built out, according to city officials.

Check out our full story Friday.

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