in a breach-of-contract claim.
Filing a claim is necessary before a lawsuit can be filed against the
City Attorney Scott Howard said his office has 45 days to respond to
"The whole program was discretionary to begin with," Howard said. "It
was based on the availability of funding. Those folks were seeking to get
free money. It was nothing more than a gift."
Chuck Chefalo, co-owner of Ernie's Camera that has been open since
1942, said the disruption of business could cause him to close his doors
as early as February. He said the construction cost him more than $90,000
in revenue. He criticized the city for backing down on its pledge to give
more aid to merchants.
"In a nutshell, the city came to me and offered me money and went
through my books and published my losses in the News-Press," Chefalo
said. "A week before I was to get my check issued to me, they canceled
it. I was counting on that money. I am hurting. They weaseled out.
About six months ago, the Glendale Redevelopment Agency gave Billy's
$12,500 and Ernie's Camera $10,000 as part of an assistance program
distributing $158,000 to stores. The money was based on the square
footage of a business.
The Redevelopment Agency also approved giving businesses another
$150,000 in grants in August but rescinded the program in September after
some companies complained about not getting enough. City officials were
also upset when Genesis Reality, a mortgage broker, applied for aid based
on losses, even though it doesn't rely on walk-in customers like other
The second aid was to be based on the amount of revenue lost because
of a lack of parking caused by the garage construction.
Chefalo said he is willing to file a lawsuit if the city denies the
claim. David Foigel, the manager of Billy's, declined to comment.
The two businesses have hired a Camarillo law firm to represent them.
Merchants receiving assistance signed an agreement with the city
saying they would not hold the city legally responsible for any loss of
business from the Orange Street garage project. The garage opened Nov.
Glendale Mayor Ginger Bremberg said she is disappointed with the claim
since the city did not have to give businesses any assistance.
Governments typically do not aid companies who are harmed by a public
"We were under no obligation to give them 10 cents," Bremberg said.
"We did that out of compassion. I am sorry they feel that way. Somebody
gives them something and they want more."