The City Council today postponed its plans to transfer park money out of a vacant site in the Fox Canyon neighborhood in hopes of resuming negotiations with the property’s owner.

The council had been poised to move some of the money being spent on the park project in the City Heights area to demolish buildings and construct a park just blocks away.

The delay came on the same day as City Attorney Mike Aguirre’s release of a 14th interim report, which concludes that council representative for Fox Canyon, Jim Madaffer, worked with an ad hoc group of city staff members to “circumvent the public process” for planning the park and an adjacent road.

Madaffer’s efforts, the report said, resulted in $400,000 worth of planning when the city didn’t even own the land yet and a misleading application for a state-funded park grant that omitted any mention of building a road on the land. The city attorney also alleges that city staff inappropriately used a significant chunk of park money on the road’s design after low-balling land owner Larry Zajonc. Today, Zajonc said he would be willing to bargain with the city for the land.

Aguirre advised Madaffer during the meeting that he should not vote on Fox Canyon park matters because he had a conflict of interest, noting after the meeting that the councilman’s votes could influence his own legal liability. Madaffer said Aguirre’s assertions were “spurious charges.” After not commenting on the report, Madaffer stormed off at the meeting’s conclusion.

One staff member that Aguirre accused of wrongdoing is April Penera, a deputy director in the Park and Recreation Department, who was fired recently after KUSI ran a series on the Fox Canyon deal. Coincidentally, the council recognized today as “April Penera Day.”

EVAN McLAUGHLIN

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