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Prominent Santa Monica Attorney Sued by City

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

September 11, 2015 -- A prominent Santa Monica attorney who has skirmished with the City over landscaping on his Palisades Road property is being sued for allegedly landscaping and fencing Santa Monica Beach land.

 The litigation by the City Attorney’s Office accuses Browne Greene and his wife Leana Greene of wrongful occupation of public land and demands that the property be restored to its original condition.

The complaint, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court in May, alleges that the couple has been wrongfully occupying Santa Monica beach land with 1,198 square feet of landscaping and fencing.

“The subject property is sovereign land” owned by the state of California, although it is managed by the City, according to the suit.  

The property in question is adjacent to the Greene property at 707 Palisades Road in Santa Monica at its western border. The Greenes have owned the property since about 1998, the suit says.

The defendants claim a right to the land, but the lawsuit contends that such a claim is “without right or foundation whatsoever.”

According to the City, the land is subject to a 1991 Boundary Line Agreement with the state that details the beach land and the state’s ownership of it.

“Title to subject property should be quieted to the State of California,” through its Department of Parks and Recreation, State Lands Commission and the City of Santa Monica, the suit alleges.

Browne Greene, a noted personal injury lawyer, could not be reached for comment.

The litigation asks that the property be “restored to its original conditions prior to the encroachment.”

It also calls for the Greenes to pay damages caused by the “wrongful occupation” and for “reasonable” costs related to restoration.

The injunctive relief sought in the suit will cause “minimal” harm to the property owners, whom the lawsuit says where aware of the beach’s ownership of that piece of the property when they bought it.

A judicial order is sought declaring that the Greenes do not have a lawful right to occupy the property. It also asks that the City be allowed to eject the owners from the property in question.

The defendants have tussled with the City before. Last spring, a hearing officer issued a ruling that affirmed the City’s order that the couple lower the hedge between their house along Pacific Coast Highway and a condo owned by former State Treasurer Phil Angelides.

The hedge was 40 feet high, 12 feet taller than is allowed by City law.

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