The Morning Report
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Mayor Jerry Sanders and City Attorney Mike Aguirre stood side-by-side at a press conference this afternoon and spelled out their latest moves for battling the Sunroad building.
While both Aguirre and Sanders welcomed Sunroad’s announcement yesterday that it will bring the 180-foot-tall building into compliance with Federal Aviation Administration guidelines, both addressed the company’s reticence to commit to actually lowering the building to 160 feet.
At a press conference last night, Dennis Crovella, an attorney for Sunroad, would not explicitly say that the company agrees to lower the building to 160 feet.
Sanders addressed that point in a letter to Sunroad, sent today:
[Sunroad’s announcement] will only remain positive if Sunroad commits to the 160 foot height limit clearly articulated on repeated occasions by the FAA and CALTRANS.
Aguirre also sent a letter to Sunroad. In it, he detailed how the company has refused to adhere to the FAA’s guidelines and the city’s instructions, and described how he would go about forcing Sunroad to comply with the restoration and mitigation order the city issued last week, should they fail to continue to cooperate.
“Sunroad’s scofflaw conduct and recalcitrance have forced the City to develop its own contingency safety plan, which the city will implement if necessary. … Make no mistake: the City’s tolerance is at an end,” Aguirre’s letter states.
That safety plan involves the city hiring experts to monitor the mitigation and removal of all parts of the tower that are unlawful, the letter says. The city could also assess administrative penalties against Sunroad of $2,500 a day while the tower remains a hazard.
Eventually, the city could hire its own contractors to step in and do the deconstruction work themselves, Aguirre said at the press conference, but he hopes that won’t be necessary. Aguirre said the next step will be for Sunroad and the city to appoint independent mediator so they can work towards a solution that is acceptable to both parties.
Asked about possible financial liability for the city if the building has to be deconstructed, Sanders said he has been advised by Aguirre and the city’s outside counsel Latham & Watkins that the city is “on firm legal ground.”
Aguirre said he expects to receive some sort of timeline from Sunroad by the end of the week describing how it will go about complying with the city.
Sanders stressed that he expects to see concrete steps taken by Sunroad to end the safety hazard.
“I don’t want to see equivocation, I want to see progress,” he said. “I want to see a timeline, I want to see timeframes, I want to see markers.”