Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Murrietan for Smart Growth

You'll recall that I previously noted allegations that the "Murrietans for Smart Growth" (not to be confused with the "Murriettans for Smart Growth") may not be quite as robust as the Ontario Mountain Village Association. While the OMVA doesn't exactly publish member lists, there are a number of people who show up at OMVA meetings who are living, breathing human beings. At least some of them are truly associated with Ontario, and with Mountain Avenue.

Apparently it's a different case in Murrietta:

There may not be multiple "Murrietans for Smart Growth," as the nonprofit's name would suggest, but the attorney representing the group recently produced one, in response to a court order.

The group sued the city earlier this year, alleging Murrieta violated state environmental laws in approving a shopping center on Winchester Road near Thompson Road. It is being developed by Regency Centers of Los Angeles, and is to be anchored by a SuperTarget.

But the only person who had ever appeared at hearings in connection with the case was the attorney who filed the suit -- Cory Briggs.

Earlier this summer, after Regency's attorney suggested Briggs was the only member of the group, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Stephen Cunnison ordered Briggs to produce an actual member of the organization before allowing the lawsuit to proceed.

The first "Murrietan" to step forward was Richard Lawrence -- who lives in San Diego and has no business affiliation to Murrieta, let alone Riverside County, according to court documents....

[A] a few weeks later, on Sept. 4, Briggs produced a woman named Felicia Munoz-Graham, who lives on the city's west side and works at the Ralphs supermarket on Washington Avenue.

And is presumably a UFCW member. But at least she's local. But it gets more interesting.

According to her deposition, Munoz-Graham was one of the founders of the group -- but she said she had never heard of Lawrence....

In his declaration to the court, Lawrence wrote that he is president of Murrietans for Smart Growth....

Lawrence is president of the San Diego-based Citizens for Responsible Equitable Environmental Development. Briggs, who has offices in San Diego and Upland, has represented CREED in a number of legal matters over the last several years -- including challenges to proposed "big box" store developments.

CREED's mailing address is Briggs' law office, according to a transcript of Lawrence's Aug. 14 deposition.

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