A Los Gatos woman prevented from getting close to the Civic Center and town government officials after the municipality alleged she threatened a "Columbine-type action" against them over a zoning dispute has filed a counter claim seeking $10,000 in damages.
Lynley Kerr Hogan, 45, filed the claim last month in the civil division of Santa Clara County Superior Court alleging the town was negligent and caused her intentional emotional distress when its staff threatened her with charging her $15,000 a month if she continued to earn income from renting her Victorian home as a vacation rental.
Hogan said she rented the upstairs of her property, known as the Lavender Lady, 230 Tait Ave., as a vacation rental for three years, since July 2010, unbeknown to surrounding property owners and no complaints were ever received.
The problem started when she began to advertise the property for rent in May 2011. At the time, someone complained to the town saying she was illegally renting the property.
The situation was brought to her attention in August of 2011. At this time, she said she was told she would be fined $500 a day if she did not cease her business, or $15,000 a month she could not afford.
Her response, she explained, was to visit the Los Gatos Planning Department to understand her options because she wanted to comply with the town code. After meeting with several planning staff members, the single mother of three small daughters paid $2,000 for an application seeking a conditional-use permit to amend the town statute to allow for such a use.
At least 33 other properties on Tait Avenue have secondary dwellings, which are rented long-term or otherwise, Hogan said.
After one sleepless night due to the situation in March 2012, Hogan said she rode her bicycle to the Planning Department shortly after it opened. She said she was very upset and scared.
Her intention, she explained, was to convey a message to the town that she was hurting and suffering due to its actions. She admits she was emotionally upset, crying and that's when she said the town used the altercation that ensued to have her taken into custody for approximately eight hours for evaluation at Valley Medical Center.
A stipulation was signed by Hogan in exchange for the town agreeing to not press charges, she said. The incident, however, later resulted in the town obtaining a restraining order against her on March 19, 2012.
At the end of May 2012, and to her surprise, a warrant was issued for her arrest, she said. She was being charged with making terrorist threats. She turned herself in immediately, she said, posted $25,000 bail, and made several court appearances to exonerate herself.
She said the Santa Clara County District Attorney, however, lacked the evidence to successfully prosecute her and in February 2013, she accepted an offer to a lesser charge of disturbing the peace.
The most recent incident involving Hogan, which appeared on the Los Gatos/Monte Sereno police blotter, was caused when she screamed at her ex-husband outside the U.S. Post Office while inside her car on North Santa Cruz Avenue.
She said her ex-husband called police and she was once again arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats. She said it was Good Friday and she was incarcerated for six days at the Santa Clara County Jail in San Jose. The charges were dropped.
Town officials got a second temporary restraining order this past March 22 and another legal injunction against Hogan for two years on April 9, which has now been entered into the statewide database of individuals prohibited from owning or purchasing a firearm.
Hogan said she purchased a shotgun at Los Gatos' new gun retail shop Templar Sports March 8 for about $500, but did not pick it up until March 18, due to the state-mandated waiting period.
She said she purchased the weapon to protect herself and her three daughters from intruders and her ex-husband.
However, she said, Los Gatos/Monte Sereno police officer Leyton Howard came to her home and asked her to return the gun, which she did.
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