Glaring fraud is plainly present within legal briefs by City of Woodland for its defense of an environmentally based lawsuit filed in September of 2011 by California Clean Energy Committee against municipal approval of the Gateway 2 project by Paul Petrovich, a doubling of size of the existing Gateway retail center at the City’s eastern edge.

Fraud obviously exists by the city’s repeated references in its legal arguments — that the Gateway 2 project would: “[R]elocate two auto dealerships, allowing for additional redevelopment sites consistent with the Downtown Specific Plan.”

City of Woodland’s appellate brief continues: “[R]elocation of the two Main Street auto dealers to the Project could also help spur redevelopment Downtown by opening those sites up for the development of a Cineplex, multistory parking facility, and other uses described in the Downtown Specific Plan. The Downtown dealership sites would need to be redeveloped relatively quickly to avoid having prolonged vacant uses along Main Street.”

The city’s legal brief to the appellate court goes on to indicate alleged benefits from “relocation of [these] auto dealerships — as intended” — to Gateway 2.

Further reference to this supposed relocation of auto dealerships alleges that, “”[D]owntown Woodland may benefit from the Project [   ] by allowing relocation of the two auto dealerships.”

____  The Facts  ____

The facts are that there are no “two [downtown] auto dealerships” moving into a Gateway 2 project. Although two such businesses currently exist on downtown Main Street: Elm Ford at the SW corner of Main and Elm Streets and Hoblit Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep across the street at 333 Main Street; neither of these two auto dealerships will be moving to Gateway 2. Anyone at all familiar with relevant circumstances should easily agree.

Elm Ford (on Elm Street) is a very successful, long-time downtown business which has never indicated even the slightest hint of interest for leaving its original site; while, Hoblit and Gateway 2 developer Paul Petrovich, have a long history of conflict.

Hoblit has for many years flatly refused to arrange its relocation into Gateway 2, with retaliation resulting by Petrovich’s refusal to allow Hoblit a lease at its former site where Petrovich was landlord, keeping this large auto dealership on — a month-to month tenancy — for about five years.

During this time period, Petrovich actually issued Hoblit a thirty-day notice to vacate the premises (later rescinded). Then, over a later rent dispute, Petrovich had Hoblit legally evicted from his (downtown) property. This Yolo Superior Court process took about four months, March – July, 2011.

With city help, Hoblit took temporary refuge at the large, vacant site of a former downtown auto dealership located across Main Street from Elm Ford.

During an earlier interview with Yolo Sun, Dave Hoblit (the firm’s principal) stated that: “I want to keep my Woodland dealership, but Petrovich has a gun to my head.”

Hoblit has flatly stated to Yolo Sun, relevant city officials and other persons that he would never move into a Gateway 2 project, as Petrovich was insisting, one might say even “strong-arming.”

[  Please see various Yolo Sun articles about Hoblit and Petrovich, on its Archive Page and on the (extended) current scroll.  ]

Relations between Hoblit and Petrovich, thereafter — got even worse — if that seems possible.

Petrovich sent Hoblit an email offer to return to his now vacant, former downtown auto dealership site (northern side of Main Street between Third and Fourth Streets). This invitation was to pay a bit less than Hoblit was now paying at 333 Main Street, which has more dealership area, fronts on Court as well as Main Street and is more convenient.  Hoblit swiftly and tersely declined.

Then, Hoblit and the local General Motors dealership (located at a freeway interchange on the eastern side of town) — with intense city cooperation — attempted to establish a modest auto mall across the I-5 freeway from Petrovich’s Gateway retail center — only to have Petrovich’s attorney, Steve Herum of Stockton, file a lawsuit against municipal approval of this small (two-dealership) auto mall.

This modest auto-mall project’s developer (Panattoni of Sacramento) declined to fund a legal defense of the already approved auto mall project, and the city in turn voided its approval to avoid the lawsuit Herum had filed.

Ironically, if it had proceeded to fruition, this freeway frontage, two-dealership auto mall would have left only one auto dealership within the downtown area (Elm Ford), making available key downtown parcels for redevelopment (as purported by the city’s legal briefs to occur with Gateway 2). This freeway-exposure auto mall also would have likely and immediately increased local receipt of sales tax.

Thus, Petrovich’s designs and actions regarding the auto mall component of his Gateway 2 project (a third of the project size) has resulted in a continuati0n of two auto dealers being located within downtown.

Hoblit has since reacted to these various antagonistic circumstances by recently obtaining municipal approval of a conditional use permit to quite substantially improve its present location across Main Street from Elm Ford, apparently planning to remain there indefinitely (at the least, until Petrovich is otherwise distracted).

The (in partnership) former owner of Hoblit’s current home at 333 Main Street, Ron Caceres, recently indicates to Yolo Sun that Hoblit has now purchased it.  Hoblit now owns its dealership site, across Main Street from Elm Ford.

Owners of these two auto dealerships are very good friends and even engage in joint promotional events, now well enjoying their close proximity as a sort of — downtown — auto mall.

It may reliably be assumed that even after hell freezes over, these two auto dealerships would fight on the ice against relocating to Petrovich’s Gateway 2 project.

____  The Fraud  ____

Clearly, the city is very well aware that there are no “two [downtown] auto dealerships” that will relocate to Gateway 2.

So, why is such an obviously fraudulent claim being used by the city’s legal briefs before the state appellate court?

The city needs something to say, attempting to balance away several looming, legal curiosities found within its approval process for Gateway 2, to somehow demonstrate its (purported) good-faith toward the city’s downtown area in this approval process.

Significantly, the city claims that a large number of seemingly quite relevant “goals and policies” within its (voter-referendum approved) General Plan, relating to “revitalization” of the downtown area (somehow) — “do not apply” — to the process of consideration and approval for the Gateway 2 project.

Plainly, a central issue related to doubling the size of the present Gateway retail center to more than a hundred acres, is the impact this development will have on the city’s core areas.

How is it possible to (legally) separate the actual identity, the prevailing concept of Woodland’s “downtown,” away from its — “revitalization” — and such “goals and policies” included within a voter-referendum based General Plan?

If these “goals and policies” would have been included within the process of consideration, meaningful responses to them would have been required to be made by the city / Petrovich.

And of course, slanting this process by eliminating them would surely (and unfairly, inaccurately) incline toward Gateway 2 project approval.

The city’s legal briefs claim only three potential benefits to the downtown area resulting from a Gateway 2 project: (a) perhaps any added sales tax might be spent on downtown, (b) perhaps added shoppers at Gateway 2 might be lured downtown, (c) two downtown auto dealerships would be relocated to Gateway 2, making available key land for redevelopment.

Starkly apparent is the fact that having to address in official documents these downtown revitalization “goals and policies” within the city’s General Plan — through only these weak and non-existent channels — would not make for easy sledding —  if the basic intention of the city was to simply approve this project.

Thus, these “goals and policies” were excised from the approval process, seemingly for being viewed as too relevant, too fair and accurate.

“Significant and unavoidable impacts” against Woodland’s downtown area are admitted by the city to occur with its approval of Gateway 2, despite impact mitigation which has been challenged in appellate court.

Motivation for Petrovich’s attorney, Herum, to sue the city’s modest auto mall project can also easily be seen as action protecting Petrovich’s interest in somehow keeping alive a hoax about Hoblit moving to Gateway 2.

City of Woodland is desperately (and intentionally, knowingly) clinging to this spectacular, transparent fraud of relocating, downtown auto dealerships, in order to attempt to persuade the appellate court that it did its legal duty pertaining to Gateway 2 consideration and approval.

City of Woodland has never had any reasoning or evidence to support this now pivotal legal notion of downtown auto dealers moving into Gateway 2.

In relevant point of law, if this (actual) situation was not clearly displayed within its Gateway 2 approval process, the city — legally failed — to have before it the relevant circumstances of project approval.

The fact that this totally bogus claim appears in the city’s legal arguments, based upon only a sheer, non-specific idea being long-present in the city’s Downtown Specific Plan, amounts to vivid, bold testimony of the extent that Petrovich is actually driving, crassly influencing for his own benefit this city’s core community planning activities.

As an interesting aside, although Woodland resident Whitman Manley’s legal firm (Remy Moose Manley LLP) is the city’s attorney in this lawsuit, he doesn’t personally sign this appellate brief (his non-resident associate does) — perhaps because he certainly knows that it contains deliberate fraud.