A San Clemente resident says the city is legally obligated to give back $9 million in fees it collected to build beach parking that never materialized.
Brad Malamud, who owns an accounting-related business in town and said he was trained as a tax attorney, told the San Clemente City Council at its Tuesday meeting that fees of $750 to $1,500 paid by homeowners east of the I-5 Freeway for homes built after 1988 should be returned.
State law, he said, requires the return of the money collected if no project is built. At the moment, the $9 million is sitting in the city's Beach Parking Impact Fund. The money is reserved for parking at north beach and the Pier Bowl to offset the impact of all the new residents who moved in east of the freeway.
"The city has a legal and moral duty to refund our money," Malamud said. "The money cannot be used for any other purpose, and the studies indicate that no additional parking is required until at least 2035."
He said the city is required to give the money back by June 15, but City Attorney Jeff Goldfarb said that probably wasn't the case because the city had already reserved and allocated it for beach parking, even though there wasn't a project in sight.
"I don't believe as I sit here today that is the deadline for return of the funds," Goldfarb said.
But he said he needed to further study the issue and provide a thorough response to Malamud's 40-plus-page letter outlining the issue, which he sent to the city in April.
Outside council chambers, Malamud said he hasn't retained a lawyer, adding that he thinks he shouldn't have to.
"They should be doing the right thing," he said.
Related: A Parking Garage at the Pier?