Author Topic: Libs Are At It Again  (Read 238 times)

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Libs Are At It Again
« on: September 25, 2017, 06:35:56 PM »


A breathtaking, panoramic view of San Francisco Bay awaits anyone who reaches the summit of Albany Hill on a clear day.

They’ll also see something else: a 20-foot-tall steel and Plexiglas cross.

But if the city of Albany gets its way, that cross won’t be there for long.

On Friday, the city said it will seek a court order “requiring removal of this religious symbol from public park land.”

The cross is owned by the Albany Lions Club, which recently filed a lawsuit against the city and several city officials — including the city manager, the community development director, the fire chief and two City Council members — for cutting off power to the cross for 108 days last year.

The Lions Club alleges that the city took control of the club’s property, which it says is protected by a decades-old easement granted to the club by a previous land owner. The lawsuit was filed Sept. 11 in U.S. District Court.
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In 1971, the cross was erected on Albany Hill on property owned by Call and his wife, Ruth. Two years later, the Calls’ property was one of three parcels eyed by a developer planning a high-rise apartment building.

The Calls sold their 1.1-acre parcel to the developer, who then conveyed the land to the city as part of a complex deal to create what is now known as Overlook Park. As a condition of the sale, Call included an easement, according to public records.

The easement was secured during a last-minute, backroom deal that Call made with the developer — without the council’s knowledge, according to the city.

Robert Nichols, an attorney for the Lions Club, told me his client believes the city is attempting to steal the Lions Club’s property rights.

“One of the things this easement does is it prevents the property from being developed,” said Nichols, who is also a club member. “Because as long as that easement exists, it cannot be developed. It’s a safeguard against development.”

Nichols continued, “There are established legal procedures for acquiring property and determining property rights, which the city has chosen to ignore. Instead, the city has chosen to unlawfully abuse its governmental powers in an attempt to force the Lions Club to abandon their rights to the cross on Albany Hill.”

The city didn’t respond to my questions about the easement and the Lions Club accusations.

The city has proposed alternatives in the past, such as a decorative bench with a commemorative plaque, and a temporary placement of “pole-based elements” for special events, according to a settlement offered to the Lions Club in April 2016.

“The Lions Club has made several proposals which the city has summarily rejected without comment,” Nichols said. “The Lions Club remains willing to enter into settlement discussions or mediation with the city to reach a reasonable resolution of the matter.”

Don’t keep your fingers crossed for a quick settlement.

http://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/Albany-Lions-Club-battle-over-cross-atop-hill-12224106.php?utm_source=email&utm_content=newsletter&utm_campaign=sfc_morningreport#photo-14161250
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