The fate of a two-story home on an ocean bluff off of Avenida California is looking brighter, as city staffers are recommending that the Planning Commission approve today, Tuesday, the re-zone that Arsalan Darmal needs to build his “dream home.”
In a report to the Planning Commission, staffers say that building a 4,906-square-foot home is consistent with the adjacent neighborhood's development standards and would not conflict with the San Juan Capistrano's long-term planning goals.
Darmal's potential future neighbors, however, are questioning whether this house is one Daramal and his wife have actually schemed about for years. Those in opposition to the construction say they have dug up public documents showing that Darmal is a "serial purchaser of tax defaulted properties in the United States."
City staffers have said the San Juan Capistrano land in question was purchased as a foreclosed property for a nominal amount in 2007. It's a buildable pad with a planned-community designation, so there's an expectation to be able to build, they said last month.
Also of concern to residents: In April, 2009, Darmal and his wife, Laila, were cited on the Hawaii's Department of Taxation's list of individuals and/or businesses owing large tax debts to the state. They were listed as owing $37,484.65 in income taxes, and Arsalan Darmal was listed as owing $85,291.74 in general excise taxes. Both delinquencies were removed from the list in June 2010.
"We have massive concerns that he’s one of these people that may not have financial capacity to complete the project if he has massive tax delinquencies," said Paul Jenkinson.
Those same neighbors showed up in force when Darmal's proposal was and said the house would block their ocean views and create public-safety issues. At the time, commissioners said they wanted to know whether it was even legal to build on the parcel. Staffers have since determined it is.
Opponents to the re-zone now say Darmal misrepresented himself when he told the commission, "I am not a developer … I know very little about developing houses ... my intent is to live in [Pacifica San Juan], and I have no intent to harm anybody."
Darmal, a Ladera Ranch resident who is identified as a doctor in city documents and who appears to work as a child psychologist for the Amen Clinic in Newport Beach, could not be reached for comment. He is proposing that the .60-acre remnant parcel just outside of the planned-Pacifica San Juan community be re-zoned to a new designation "hillside estate" and be incorporated in the city's Forster Canyon development plan.
Public records show that an Arsalan Darmal purchased tax-defaulted property in Honolulu, HI, a location where the Darmal of the Amen Clinic has worked, according to his biography on the clinic's website. According to Jenkinson, Darmal, after residing in Honolulu, relocated to California upon accepting a position at UC Davis. Jenkinson believes the relocation occurred at about the same time as, records show, Arsalan Darmal purchased tax-delinquent property in Vallejo, close to UC Davis campus.
"Arsalan Darmal [purchased] tax-delinquent property in city of Vallejo for approximately $5,000 an acre and subsequently attempted to force the developer to provide road and utility services to the land by suing the city for non-enforcement of various legislative requirements," Jenkinson said.
San Juan Capistrano's director of development, Grant Taylor, said Jenkinson and other Pacifica San Juan residents have forwarded him a variety of concerns, some of which are related to the land use designation. Those not pertaining to the re-zone did not weigh into his recommendation to the Planning Commission, he said.
"Information was forwarded regarding the applicant’s personal real estate transactions, which is irrelevant to a land use decision," Taylor wrote in an e-mail. "Staff processes an application based on consistency with the City’s General Plan and Zoning Code."