Campus Town drawing

A drawing of what Campus Town may look like, from the environmental impact report that was approved. 

If at first you don't succeed, sue and sue again?

Looks like it, for the Committee for Sound Water and Land Development on Fort Ord, when it comes to taking the city of Seaside to court.

Buckle up—this is a complicated ride. 

In April, the aforementioned anonymous committee emerged seemingly out of nowhere and enlisted attorney Steve Herum to sue Seaside, the city council and KB Bakewell Seaside Venture II (aka, developer Danny Bakewell), asking a judge to set aside the environmental impact report prepared for Bakewell’s years-in-the-making Campus Town project. The lawsuit also asked a judge to revoke the construction approvals, premised on the idea that Seaside failed to properly address the environmental impacts of the massive development.

In July, Herum went to court seeking to have the name of his client remain secret, after a secretary in his law firm accidentally included it in correspondence to Seaside City Attorney Sheri Damon. Monterey Superior Court Judge Tom Wills declined to rule on the issue, and Damon, in response to a California Public Records Act request from the Weekly, released the email naming Paul Petrovich, a developer working on a second massive development in Seaside—the Main Gate project.

In August, Herum changed course and filed a motion seeking to have that lawsuit dismissed. 

And that brings us to Sept. 1, when Herum, with the same committee again named as the plaintiff, filed a new suit that appears to be the largely the same as the first—a petition asking a judge to set aside the environmental impact report on the Campus Town project, and revoke the construction approvals for the project's 1,485 housing units, 250 hotel rooms and retail, office and light-industrial space. 

What's different about this suit? It also names the Fort Ord Reuse Authority—an entity that no longer exists—as FORA ended its mission earlier this year. 

Damon declined to comment, and Herum did not immediately return an email request for comment. 

When the Campus Town project went before Seaside City Council for approval, Seaside activists turned out in force, wearing "We Love Campus Town" T-shirts and making it clear that the project meant that Seaside, which had for years suffered economically following the closure of Fort Ord, was finally getting its due. 

This latest case—presuming it isn't withdrawn in the interim—is due to have a first hearing in court on Jan. 12, 2021. Seaside, meanwhile, is in an ENA—that's exclusive negotiating agreement—with Petrovich for his Main Gate project, a retail-centric development that Petrovich maintains requires Campus Town to go forward so there are residents to shop Main Gate's would-be stores and eat at its would-be restaurants.

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