City facing Arcade suit
by Chris Wilson
Concerns raised by two business owners in the Arcade Plaza
will likely net the City of Ojai yet another lawsuit.
Attorneys David and Cath Jones, representing Lisa Clark, owner
of Busy Babes Beauty Supply and Salon, and Lisa Sauvageau of
Studio Sauvageau, said Thursday they will file a lawsuit to halt
redevelopment construction on the Arcade Plaza because it threatens
to damage business and possibly put their clients out of business.
The construction process may at times block access to the businesses,
and destruction noise is a nuisance that is already causing harm
to the businesses, the lawsuit claims.
David Jones said a letter responding to request for compensatory
damages of $350 per day for any day when the Busy Babes has access
blocked has been rejected by the city.
"Basically the position they are taking is, come see us
at the completion of the work if you're still in business, and
then we'll talk about compensation."
He said he would probably be filing in Superior Court Friday
morning and would drop a note off at City Hall to let them know
that he was filing.
The lawsuit brings several causes of action against the city
of Ojai - including negligent and intentional interference with
prospective business, defamation and slander and intentional
infliction of emotional distress.
The Ojai City Council met in closed session for a special meeting
Tuesday to consider the potential settlement arrangements requested
by the business owners and their attorneys.
As part of the lawsuit, the Joneses are alleging that Singer
slandered Clark, by asking Cathy Jones if Clark has a drug problem.
Singer wrote a letter of apology to Clark that is now in the
Singer said he asked the questions in a personal conversation
he had with Jones and never intended to hurt anyone.
"I have never made slanderous nor derogatory remarks to
any of our residents or business owners," he stated in an
e-mail to the OVN.
Clark said the only drugs she takes are ibuprofen and 15 cigarettes
"I just feel like I don't want to lose my business,"
Clark said. "Just from the noise, I can see that business
is already going down."
During the Ojai Planning Commission meeting Wednesday, Ojai City
Councilwoman Sue Horgan said the City of Ojai and the Council
are doing everything they can to work with business owners affected
by the construction in the Arcade Plaza. Afterward she referred
to Singer as a kind and caring individual.
"It's a shame to me that this kind, caring man would have
something he said misrepresented misinterpreted," Horgan
Presently the the law office of Jones and Briggs is focusing
on Clark's requests since, as they allege, she is immediately
facing closure of her business during phase one of construction.
Access to Studio Sauvageau won't be in question until phase two
of the construction process starts.
City Manager Dan Singer maintains that until a claim of damages
is brought before the council, he can't provide any form of compensation.
"The Council was genuine in their interest to support our
local business, however they felt that any settlement now, based
on potential losses would be premature," Singer stated in
a letter to David Jones dated May 1. "If a settlement is
necessary, the Council felt it should be made following an actual
loss associated with the closure of a business."
The Jones have both already said that noise associated with the
project is causing damage to Busy Babes already.
"The noise is so deafening out there, I don't know that
access is going to do her any good," Cathy Jones said. "All
we asked the city to provide was access, and on the days that
you can't keep her door open, compensate her up to $350. If she
makes $100 that day, then you give her $250. Reroute people the
best you can, but if you have her front door closed, you're going
to have to compensate her."
What Singer's letter to Jones, dated May 1, 2002, does offer
is seven days notice in the event of closure and directional
signs that lead to the businesses.
Jones referred to the letter as "pretty callous" and
said he would be reworking the litigation documents Thursday
afternoon and adding a nuisance clause. He said noise from the
construction was already causing damage to the business
Singer's letter stated what the city was willing to offer the
"We are allowed to do public works projects," Singer
said. "I think it is very disappointing that they will make
an effort to shut construction down, because that will only hurt
"They seem completely blind to the plight of a small businesswoman,"
Cathy Jones said.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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