The City Council will consider approving a new contract for its city attorney services with Costa Mesa-based law firm Rutan & Tucker, LLP at its next meeting on Tuesday, July 17.
Current city attorney Omar Sandoval, from Woodruff, Spradlin & Smart, turned in his firm’s 60-day notice on Thursday, June 28.
The proposed agreement with Rutan & Tucker would go into effect August 28 and would cost the city a monthly retainer of $10,000, plus a rate of $229 per hour for non-retainer services and paralegal services at a rate of $75-200 per hour. The city has budgeted $440,000 for city attorney services for the next two fiscal years. The city expects to pay up to $460,000 this year for services provided by Woodruff, Spradlin & Smart, according to the staff report.
Rutan & Tucker currently provides city attorney services for 11 other cities: Adelanto, Dana Point, Duarte, Irvine, La Palma, La Quinta, Laguna Beach, San Clemente, Twentynine Palms, Villa Park and Yorba Linda. The firm also provides general counsel to 18 redevelopment agencies and the Orange County Water District. Attorneys Hans Van Ligten and Patrick Munoz have been proposed as San Juan’s new city attorney and assistant city attorney, respectively.
Van Ligten has served as assistant city attorney for the City of Laguna Beach for the past 23 years and has also worked in Irvine, La Palma, Palm Springs, San Clemente and Yorba Linda. Munoz is the current city attorney for Dana Point and Twentynine Palms and has previously worked in Adelanto, Baldwin Park, San Fernando and West Covina.
Under the terms of the agreement, the retainer fee includes nine to ten regular office hours per week, attendance at regular and closed session city council and planning commission meetings, and drafting and reviewing ordinances and resolutions. Any adjustments to the rates can be made on an annual basis, based on any change in the Consumer Price Index. Any other rate changes may be made by the City Council during annual performance reviews.
The city can terminate the agreement at any time, so long as it is done with a 30-day notice. Rutan & Tucker may opt out with a 90-day notice.
Current City Attorney Omar Sandoval said that he would continue to serve San Juan for the duration of the 60 days. Sandoval officially became San Juan’s city attorney in January 2008, replacing the retired John Shaw. He began working in San Juan in 1999, as the deputy city attorney and then as assistant city attorney in 2005. Sandoval also provides counsel for the City of Hawaiian Gardens.
“Omar has been an extremely good and competent lawyer,” said Mayor Larry Kramer. “I’ve appreciated his advice, and I consider him a good friend.”