Oversight board has limited power on rezoning
— by Jeffrey Wisniewski — 22 September 2013 — 1 comment below »
But a majority of council members criticized the deal as too generous to Safeway, and questioned the cost estimate for removing the dirt. Councilwomen Myrna de Vera and Sherry McCoy additionally deplored the absence of a formal appraisal of the property and lamented that the city had negotiated exclusively with Safeway rather than cast a wide net for the best deal.
“Best deal” in this sense is not value in terms of price, but value in terms of quality development. Big difference. I hope councilwomen de Vera and McCoy don’t lose sight of that.
With respect to the oversight board and its power, city manager Steve Duran overstated the board’s ability to direct the council to do anything related to this proposed contract with Safeway. (Duran wanted the deal approved and said a lot of things that evening — some of which contradicted even himself from the day before.) The oversight board could request the council reconsider the matter and stress financial reasons to do so, but — I should capitalize this — BUT the board cannot force the council to sign this contract.
Simply put, the proposed development does not meet current zoning (or CEQA) — and the oversight board (or any state agency for that matter) cannot force rezoning in order to liquidate RDA assets. The state laws that dissolved redevelopment agencies do not require it. Nor could they have. It’s land use law.
The local agency, the city of Hercules — the people, not city hall — hold absolute control of local zoning. That’s a good thing and should be used to the city’s advantage. The Safeway proposal can be improved to meet both the financial requirements to sell the property (dissolved RDA) and the community’s objective to construct high-quality development.