The past several city manager reports have included no updates — substantive or otherwise — on the status of Sycamore North, Sycamore Crossing, Victoria Crescent, and Parcel C.
The weekly report was introduced in autumn of 2012 by then-interim city manager Charlie Long as a means to relay information to the public as he unearthed the ghastly horror that was city’s management and operations. Since that time, the report has devolved into a political piece — advocating for tax increases, highlighting or even embellishing successes, while suppressing challenges and key information for the public to know, specifically with respect to land deals.
This week’s report is no different. The report includes the following summary of the AMBAC lawsuit:
Ambac and the City have extended the performance date on the court approved stipulation to July 30, 2013 and are negotiating an amended stipulation to further extend for time and to provide for the requirements of AB 1484. The property attachment that is part of the current stipulation is set at $6.5 million, but the amount due at closer to $5.5 million. Staff and Ambac met with the Department of Finance staff in Sacramento on April 15 to discuss the disposition of properties owned by the City as Successor Agency and expediting the approval of real estate to meet the requirements of the court approved stipulation that former Redevelopment Agency properties are sold expeditiously.
The properties in question include Sycamore Crossing, which is in contract with Property Development Centers/Safeway to build a Safeway anchored Shopping Center, Victoria Crescent, which is in contract with City Ventures to build single family detached homes for sale, and Parcel C, which is out of contract and under negotiations. Any proceeds of these sales will go toward financial obligations of the former Redevelopment Agency. Although no sales proceeds will go to the City, the fees, sales tax and utility user tax that will be created by the development of these properties will go a long way toward stabilizing the City’s finances over time.
There is one piece of new information in the excerpt above — the first sentence. Everything else is either dated or political, especially the reference that the “requirements of the court approved stipulation that former Redevelopment Agency properties are sold expeditiously.”
Of course, what the council is trying to do, is not sell the properties expeditiously, but rezone the parcels (land use changes in conflict with the General Plan outside of the planning process) and sell the properties in one fell swoop — in closed session. This is illegal.
The report has no detailed discussion on action items for the parcels or challenges. (It is not a true status report.) But it does mention that the taxes “created by the development of these properties will go a long way toward stabilizing the City’s finances over time,” which is, again, a purely political statement — the end justifies the means (perhaps even a casino).
The illegal PSA with Safeway mentioned in the report includes a 16-plus pump gas complex. Not 16. Sixteen plus. In addition to never being analyzed for environmental impact (CEQA), the land use is in direct conflict with the General Plan, Central Hercules Plan, and site-specific IPDP. However, the gas complex is hard-wired into the deal so that if Safeway’s plans do not succeed in the future (through CEQA and the public planning process), it will fail. And the city will be back to where it started.
Selling these parcels expeditiously meant selling them as-is. The council was told this. They didn’t listen.
Two years of failure, and counting.