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City of Montebello v. Vasquez

California Court of Appeals, Second District, First Division

April 30, 2014

CITY OF MONTEBELLO, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
ROSEMARIE VASQUEZ et al., Defendants and Appellants ARAKELIAN ENTERPRISES INC., Intervener.

[REVIEW GRANTED BY CAL. SUPREME COURT]

[As modified May 30, 2014.]

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. BC488767 Rolf Treu, Judge.

Page 1085

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1086

COUNSEL

Revere & Wallace and Frank Revere for Defendants and Appellants.

AlvaradoSmith, Raul F. Salinas, Mary M. Monroe; Leibold McClendon & Mann and John G. McClendon for Plaintiff and Respondent.

OPINION

CHANEY, J.

Respondent City of Montebello (the City) sued appellants, Montebello City Council members Rosemarie Vasquez, Robert Urteaga, and Kathy Salazar, and city official Richard Torres, seeking declaratory relief for violations of Government Code section 1090, which prohibits city officers

Page 1087

and employees from having a financial interest in any contract made by them in their official capacity. The trial court denied appellants’ special motion to strike the complaint under Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16,[1] the anti-SLAPP statute. On appeal, appellants contend the trial court erred in denying their motion because the City’s lawsuit arises from protected activity and the City failed to demonstrate a probability of prevailing on the merits. We disagree and affirm.

Background

We obtain the background facts from “‘the pleadings, and supporting and opposing affidavits stating the facts upon which the liability or defense is based.’ (§ 425.16, subd. (b).)” (Navellier v. Sletten (2002) 29 Cal.4th 82, 89 [124 Cal.Rptr.2d 530, 52 P.3d 703].)

The present action arises from appellants’ approval of a city contract granting Arakelian Enterprises, Inc. doing business as Athens Services (Athens) an exclusive right to provide commercial waste hauling services in Montebello. Athens is a waste collection and recycling service that has had an exclusive contract to provide residential waste hauling services in Montebello since 1962.

Sometime in 2007, while running for city council, Urteaga approached Athens and suggested it submit a proposal to the city council to become the exclusive commercial and industrial waste hauling service in Montebello, in addition to being the City’s exclusive residential waste hauling service. Athens later contributed to Urteaga’s campaign, and he was elected to the city council.

In 2008, Torres, the City Administrator, worked with Athens to negotiate the terms of an exclusive contract, under which Athens would provide improved residential trash hauling services at no increased price and also become the exclusive commercial and industrial waste hauling service beginning in 2016. In exchange for this exclusivity, Athens agreed to make a one-time $500, 000 cash payment to the City.

Athens then submitted a proposal to the city council to become the exclusive provider of commercial waste ...


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