Building officer sues Pacifica

Chief Building Officer Michael Angel has filed suit against the city, seeking damages following a number of alleged clashes he had with city employees he claims resulted in a hostile work environment.

San Mateo-based Paul Smoot, Angel’s attorney, filed suit with the San Mateo County Superior Court on July 5, explaining that since 2005, his client thought the city was goading him into “wrongdoing” over the course of his work inspecting buildings and issuing permits for various city projects.

“Angel had enjoyed an exceptional career in Pacifica, prior to refusing to expedite building plans at the behest of [Councilman Jim] Vreeland, [Planning Director] Michael Crabtree, [Public Works Director Scott] Holmes, Tanner and others,” Smoot wrote in the filing. “Angel refused to put the lives of the citizens of Pacifica at risk and, in doing so, incurred the wrath of Vreeland, Tanner, Holmes and Crabtree.”

City Attorney Cecilia Quick said the city has not yet been served with the lawsuit.

“I know he has had some [grievances with the city],” Quick said.

The court filing contains detailed accounts of Angel’s basis for suing, including a 2006 reprimand for failing to complete his duties following a fire at 932 Park Pacifica.

The filing also recounts then-City Manager Joe Tanner’s request to waive a review of two projects in the city against Angel’s recommendations — which, Angel says, resulted in threats of termination.

Angel also alleges that in 2005, he was instructed to forego the proper planning process for the still-pending City Hall move to the former sewage treatment plant on Beach Boulevard.

In 2006, he claims, the Calera Creek Water Treatment plant project was not done with proper permits. He alleges that his superiors told him that permits could come after the project was completed.

Angel is seeking an as-yet undetermined amount in general damages and compensation, including the costs for his attorney.

tramroop@examiner.com

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