COVINA – The Covina Redevelopment Agency denied violating open-meeting laws when it met in closed session last year over a loan deal for a local business. The agency outlined its argument in a legal document in response to a March 2 lawsuit by the District Attorney’s Office. The city attorney’s office filed the response April 14, two days before the deadline. “The city’s position is we disagree with the DA’s legal analysis and the facts they’re citing for the basis of their petition,” said Jennifer Pancake, an outside litigator representing the city. The DA’s Public Integrity Division sued the redevelopment agency over its Dec. 20 decision to hold a closed session on a loan for Seidner Enterprises, which wanted to renovate and expand Bert’s Motorcycle and Watercraft Mega-Mall on Azusa Avenue. The agency has a leasehold interest in the property, city officials said. Pancake said the agency leases the property from the owner and subleases it to Seidner Enterprises. That information was on the original loan agreement given to the DA’s Office, she added. In its response to the lawsuit, the city argues items discussed in closed session pertained to price and terms. The amendment to the loan agreement came up after the Dec. 20 agenda had been prepared. The agency board voted to add it to the closed session agenda before going into closed session. The Covina City Council, which is also the Redevelopment Agency, recently directed City Attorney Ed Lee to defend the agency against the lawsuit. “We don’t agree with the DA’s interpretation of the law,” said City Manager Paul Philips. “We answered all the charges. Of course we don’t agree with the substance of the lawsuit.” The DA’s Public Integrity Division has only sued twice over alleged Brown Act violations. “We’ve not taken anybody to this level since the Public Integrity Division began in 2001,” said David Demerjian, who heads the unit. The DA wants the court to order the Redevelopment Agency to tape closed sessions, take notes of discussions and make documents available upon request without delay. They are asking the court to declare the Dec. 20 decision null and void. The Redevelopment Agency asked the court to find the DA’s action “clearly frivolous and lacking in merit.” And if the court enters a judgment against the agency, they want the taping of closed sessions to be limited to items about real property negotiations. The next step in the lawsuit is discovery, said Pancake. “We will try to prove our case. They will try to prove their case,” she said. [email protected] (626) 962-8811,Ext. 2718160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl eventThat night the Redevelopment Agency approved a $1.75million loan and an additional $2.25 million over the next 10 years to Seidner. However, that deal has been set aside since Seidner later asked the agency for a new agreement. The new agreement, which the agency passed March 7, gives Seidner a $1.75 million loan for the remodeling and rehabilitation of the business. The DA said the agency violated the Ralph M. Brown Act, which details when officials can meet in closed session, because the Dec. 20 loan agreement with Seidner wasn’t done in public and no notice of a closed session was given. Prosecutors also question why the agency went into closed session. City officials said the redevelopment agency could go into closed session under the “real proper negotiations” exception. The DA’s Office argues that the loan agreement doesn’t involve the purchase, sale or lease of property by or for the agency.