PALMDALE – Antelope Valley Chevrolet owner, Lou Gonzales, is suing the City of Palmdale, claiming the City threw roadblocks in his way, which prevented him from opening a new Chevrolet Dealership in the Palmdale Auto Mall and forced him to locate his dealership in Lancaster instead. The case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, case number BC473893.
A news release issued by Gonzales’ attorneys — Callahan, Thompson, Sherman & Caudill LLP – states:
Lou Gonzales owned Saturn of Antelope Valley located in the Palmdale Auto Mall. When General Motors eliminated the Saturn brand Mr. Gonzales was stuck with a Saturn dealership showroom and nothing to sell. However, because of his excellent performance for GM as a Saturn dealership, GM awarded him a new Chevrolet dealership in the Antelope Valley. Lou Gonzales, the owner of Antelope Valley Chevrolet wanted to purchase an empty lot in the Palmdale Auto Mall to build a state of the art Chevrolet showroom and to use his Saturn dealership to sell Chevrolets while the new showroom was being built. Instead of welcoming a new auto dealership to the Palmdale Auto Mall with the creation of lots of jobs and tax revenue for the residents of Palmdale, the Palmdale redevelopment agency threw every roadblock they could to prevent Lou Gonzales from building a new dealership in the Palmdale Auto Mall. They ultimately forced Lou Gonzales to locate his dealership in Lancaster, leaving his Saturn Dealership empty. After he decided to locate in Lancaster, the City of Palmdale sued the City of Lancaster.
Lou Gonzales filed a complaint against Palmdale alleging intentional interference and discrimination. The City of Palmdale will have 30 days in which to file a response to the lawsuit with the Court.
“I was shocked at the treatment I received by Palmdale when all I wanted to do was to build a beautiful showroom on a lot in the Palmdale Auto Mall that had been vacant for 20 years and to create millions of dollars of tax revenue for the City of Palmdale and create quite a few jobs for the residents of Palmdale,” Gonzales said in the statement. “Palmdale engaged in a game of politics instead of looking out for its residents.”
Palmdale City Attorney, Wm. Matthew Ditzhazy, disputes Gonzales’ account of what took place. Tuesday evening, Ditzhazy said Palmdale did not throw “roadblocks” in front of a “Palmdale Chevrolet dealership”; rather, Palmdale offered a lucrative taxpayer funded deal to Mr. Gonzales to encourage him to stay in the Palmdale Auto Mall.
Instead of accepting the deal from Palmdale, Gonzales demanded more and more concessions from Palmdale, including extra free land, and then pitted Palmdale against Lancaster in a bidding war for his dealership, Ditzhazy said.
The city attorney says Palmdale only lost out because it was unable to match the “illegal deal” Lancaster gave to Gonzales.
Lancaster reportedly agreed to a deal that would give Gonzales $600,000 in redevelopment funds to open his dealership in Lancaster. But Palmdale went to court to prevent Gonzales from receiving the funding.
“California law clearly states that Lancaster cannot provide financial incentives to steal an auto dealer from Palmdale to move to Lancaster,” said Ditzhazy. “Consequently, he [Gonzales] will not prevail against the jurisdiction (Palmdale) that prevented him from getting the $600,000 that he was not entitled to receive from the other (Lancaster). Also, Mr. Gonzales filed his claim late and his lawsuit is thereby prohibited by operation of law.”
Gonzales’ lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.