Newport Beach office building at issue

The property has sweeping ocean views and is next to Banning Ranch, which could one day have multimillion-dollar homes.

A possible buyer?


The city of Newport Beach.

City Council members will discuss in closed session Tuesday how much they might pay for an office building at Monrovia Avenue and 15th Street, although they weren't looking to buy.


Their hand was apparently forced by the property owner, who claimed the city rendered his building useless and sued.

Kenneth Kaplan, a Laguna Beach attorney who owns the property at 1499 Monrovia Ave., claimed that the city's zoning policy will force him to demolish his building and give up rental income.

In 2010, the city told Kaplan that his property was no longer zoned for commercial use, and would instead have to be residential. He also alleged that the Banning Ranch development plans, which the council approved in July, will require the city to take some of his parking lot to make room for an extended 15th Street.

Because of both of those factors, Kaplan said that the building's longtime tenant, Road & Track Magazine, would be forced to vacate. He sued the city in December for inverse condemnation.


Neither Kaplan nor city officials would comment about the ongoing negotiations.

City officials deny that they effectively rendered his property useless. In their response to the lawsuit, they point out that they granted him a 10-year extension for commercial use, and that no final decisions had been made about the 15th Street extension.

They also said it was too early to claim that the city was taking his property.

Kaplan agreed to dismiss the case in April, in order to negotiate terms for the property. The building was assessed in 2011 for $4.6 million.

In June, Road & Track's owner, Hearst Corp., announced it planned to relocate its headquarters to Michigan, where its sister publications were.

The car magazine's former owners built the 1499 Monrovia building about 40 years ago, according to Kaplan's complaint. He bought the building in 2007.

It is unclear if the magazine's move was related to the building's issues.

The zoning change that set off the events was part of a citywide crackdown on businesses that do not conform to zoning in the city's 2006 General Plan.


Some of these companies, like the Frog House surf shop, have been operating for decades. The council voted to allow the popular Frog House to stay.

Twitter: @mreicher