Placer taking ex-planning commissioner to court
Placer County supervisors voted Tuesday to sue former county planning commissioner Michelle Ollar-Burris over allegations that she worked with other property owners to circumvent state planning law in dividing foothill properties.
The lawsuit will be filed against the Auburn-area real-estate broker this week, said the Placer County Counsel Anthony La Bouff. It will allege “unjust enrichments,” “unfair business practices,” “misrepresentation” and “breach of fiduciary responsibility,” he said.
“I think there will be more than one person named in the lawsuit,” La Bouff added.
The report has been shared with the Placer County district attorney, La Bouff said, but criminal charges are not expected to be filed against Ollar-Burris.
“It’s a very complex case,” he said.
County supervisors unanimously voted to remove Ollar-Burris, who represented an area from Tahoe to North Auburn, from the Placer County Planning Commission when the allegations became public earlier this year.
Steven Belzer, a lawyer representing Ollar-Burris, said the former planning commissioner denies allegations that she did anything illegal, and will “vigorously” defend herself against the legal action.
“[The report] is full of assumptions, guesses and outright lack of facts,” Belzer said in an e-mail. “Its conclusion that there was a conspiracy is nothing more than the board of supervisors getting an opinion after the fact to justify its earlier political action in removing Michelle from the Planning Commission.”
Placer County Supervisor Bruce Kranz picked Auburn resident Larry Farinha to replace Ollar-Burris in August.
The county hired a special lawyer, Richard Crabtree, to investigate Ollar-Burris. After months of research, Crabtree presented a report showing evidence that Ollar-Burris worked with other property owners to circumvent the state’s subdivision map act.
The report examined six properties that were repeatedly subdivided by Ollar-Burris, a trust governed by Ollar-Burris and other property owners known to work with her.
California law requires a subdivision map be filed for property divided into more than four parcels. That requirement involves a much more rigorous planning process and typically requires additional fees.
Repeated divisions of parcels into four pieces, known as “quartering,” is outlawed by the state.
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