Former Rancho P.V. Planner Fined for Conflict of Interest
The state Fair Political Practices Commission on Tuesday found that Dr. Harvey Brown, a former Rancho Palos Verdes planning commissioner, had violated the conflict-of-interest provisions of the state Political Reform Act and fined him $4,000.
By a 4-0 vote, the commission concluded that in September, 1983, Brown had a conflict of interest when he voted to approve a permit that allowed Burrell Ltd., a construction firm, to build a 25-unit apartment building.
The commission said that Burrell Ltd. had agreed a few weeks earlier, in August, 1983, to lend Brown more than $100,000 to purchase a lot on which the firm was to design and build a home for him.
The commission determined that because the construction firm provided Brown a source of income, he should have disqualified himself from participating in the permit decision and should have disclosed the income on his 1983 statement of economic interests.
Lynn Montgomery, a commission spokeswoman, said the commission also determined that Brown had failed to disclose an interest in property at 29234 Beachside Drive, Rancho Palos Verdes, on his 1982 and 1983 annual statements of economic interests.
Montgomery said that in making its decision the commission accepted the recommendation of Administrative Law Judge Ronald M. Gruen, who last month conducted a hearing on the case in Los Angeles.
James Gross, a Sacramento lawyer representing Brown, said on Wednesday he has no plans to appeal the decision to Superior Court. But, he said, “we were surprised that the administrative law judge recommended a $4,000 fine. We believe if there were violations they were technical and inadvertent.”
The City Council voted unanimously in April, 1985, to remove Brown from the Planning Commission for failing to disclose the loan. At that time, city officials said they did not believe Brown had abused his position as a planning commissioner but they were removing him because the appearance of a conflict might hurt the city’s reputation.