LONG BEACH : Ex-Harbor Official Seeks Reinstatement

A former harbor commissioner who gave up his seat in December after feuding with the city's Redevelopment Agency over a property deal has filed a claim against the city asking to be reinstated and seeking monetary compensation for damages.

Joel Friedland, who served 7 1/2 years as a harbor commissioner, claims that several Redevelopment Agency board members and other city officials demanded his resignation before the agency would purchase real estate he owned.

The one-acre parcel in an industrial area of the city's west side was the site of Friedland's family-owned furniture-lacquer business.

The redevelopment board majority voted against the sale after redevelopment officials had assured Friedland verbally that the deal would be approved, he said.

Donald Westerland, a redevelopment board member, said the board had wished to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest because of Friedland's position as harbor commissioner. He added, however, that the panel "did not make (Friedland's resignation) a condition of the sale of the property."

Westerland, who was named in Friedland's claim, would not elaborate on the board's decision, citing the confidentiality of real-estate negotiations.

Soon after Friedland submitted his resignation, the agency met in closed session and agreed to buy the land for $860,000. The parcel, which spans Cota and Seabright avenues, is expected to be used for Police Department storage.

Friedland, whose appointed seat on the commission remains unfilled, said he plans to file a lawsuit if the council rejects his claim.

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