He’s No Friend Of Brea.

diamond_dIn the past 72 hours, this self-absorbed nutjob published seven blog posts, supposedly about the Brea downtown parking structure. The total word count is 13,781 words, not one of which is even slightly shaded towards the truth.

He eviscerates the hard work of Brea’s staff. He dances on the edge of slander, painting grotesque and wholly inaccurate pictures of every Brea Council member. He does a libelous job of character assassination of the downtown Brea business owners.

His childish disparagement of me, my blog, Brea Matters, my interest in and support of my community is of no concern.

So, what is this rambling shock and awe campaign knocking Brea really all about?

What’s the point of his scandalmongering personal agenda? Why does someone recently relocated to Brea, renting (not a tax payer), operating a less than stellar legal business from his kitchen table (I assume he has a Brea business license) suddenly take such an over-the-top interest in local government?

I think his saber rattling is designed to produce one thing, plaintiffs. He’s stalking new prey.

Diamond_3BHis work as general counsel for an Anaheim based political activist group seems to have come up a crapper and he has rent to pay and a reputation desperately in need of repair.

It seems he may be in the market for new clients interested in suing Brea. Contrary to his protestations, not the best way to help preserve Brea’s general fund.

I find him, his tactics and agenda appalling. I worry about those who seem to have been hypnotized by the drone of his voice.

Folks in Brea see him for what he is.

Thankfully, only a handful of Clean Sweep leftovers give any credence to what this numbskull posts. I’m surprised they have the stamina to wade through all that indecipherable blathering.

I’ve been thrilled to hear from so many friends and neighbors who get it, who value how a revitalized downtown will benefit this community for decades to come. Who understand what an investment is, that the ROI will begin the moment the Council approves a contract to build a parking structure in downtown Brea.

Real Brean’s are people who believe that a project which pays for itself in the long run is well worth the investment.

 

Council Tackles Parking Again.

Mini_Pano

As expected, Matters From The Audience was dominated by folks addressing Council about the downtown parking structure. Opinions varied. All but one speaker contributed civil, thoughtful, meaningful comments. Everyone seemed to agree a structure was needed, however opinions were divided on which design made the most sense to them.

The solo speaker who ignored the real subject, ranted to Council about his disdain for one Brea businessman citing an email exchange that he either misread completely or manufactured the most bitter inaccurate interpretation possible. Read about my take on this misguided antagonist here: He’s No Friend Of Brea.

What did the real Brean’s have to say?

Comments and email received by Council predominantly favored building a parking structure but were equally divided about how to best fund the project. Some had no problem using general fund money, others strongly objected. There were even a couple of compassionate comments pointing out other projects or services they felt were more important than parking.

Also, several comments expressed excitement about the proposed new Improv entertainment and dining complex, recognizing how it would greatly contribute to revitalizing downtown.

Frankly, between the presentation of the Mayor’s Student Achievement Awards and the overall quality and tone of those commenting last night, I came away with a renewed appreciation for the people of Brea.

I was additionally pleased to see several genuinely new, younger faces. Brea needs to recruit strong, youthful leadership, to fill future elected, appointed and voluntary positions within Brea’s municipal government. This New Guard is an essential component of tomorrow’s leadership and our best guarantee of a bright future for Brea.

Counsel’s deliberations.

Rather than trying to summarize the he said and she said of the lengthy Council debate, I asked one of the new young speakers to give us his take on the meeting. Thanks to Jason Kraft for the following…

“At the June 16th Brea City Council meeting, the council agreed that a parking structure with at least 300 new spaces is needed behind the Tower building to provide critical infrastructure for the expansion and redevelopment of businesses on that block. The open questions are how to fund it and whether to include housing and office space in the parking structure.

The council did not make any final decisions at the meeting, but they are proceeding with a request for bids to build a parking-only structure. The council also requested more detailed information from the developer of the “Parking Plus” plan, which includes office space on the top floor and 40 affordable housing apartments within the parking structure.”

The clock is ticking.

Staff indicated that the RFP process might take as much as 90 days, mostly driven by the complexity of the process for the “Parking Plus” option. Likely, figures could be available sooner than 90 days for the “Parking Only” option.

The Improv did say that synchronous opening of their complex and the structure isn’t necessary, but we all can guess that it needs to be reasonably close.

The “Parking Plus” option, it was pointed out, wouldn’t be able to apply for tax benefits until next March with a one year processing period being typical. Add another 2+ years to complete the project and the ribbon cutting wouldn’t likely happen until mid-2019.

I would be more than a little concerned that the total time required to complete any “Parking Plus” option would sufficiently conflict with the Improv’s timetable and cost Brea the project.

I trust staff and Council will weigh these and the soft cost issues carefully, that the immediacy of Brea’s ROI will be clearly understood and that we’ll finally reach closure on this prolonged matter.

Another resident speaks.

I’ll let these few words from Brea resident Tom Dunlap, whose position reflects the majority of communications reaching me, to provide the closing thoughts.

“As long as Brea is prudent with the spending and it does not dip too heavily into the General Fund reserves I am in full support of this project going through. We have a golden opportunity to create something very special downtown and I would hate to see this slip through the city’s fingers and end up with a deteriorating downtown.”

 

Brea Downtown Parking Structure.

Empty ParkingNot since the Madrona Project and the Drought Tolerant Rock Garden has there been a more divisive and misunderstood topic than building a parking structure on Superblock 1. It may all come to a head at last on June 16th when Council wades through the latest staff report and recommendations.

If the recent record setting discussion on Nextdoor (130 comments) is any indication, Breans have had little to consider but rumor and speculation. That’s about to change. On Tuesday evening the full staff report was posted on the city’s website. Tough to find, but I’ve downloaded it and you can get it here.

A Little History.

At their special meeting in April, Council reached consensus that it’s time to build the parking structure. With over a decade of meetings, closed door discussions, faltering negotiations, false starts and the loss of redevelopment funds designed to pay for it… Council finally drew a line in the sand.

With full agreement that the parking structure must provide a minimum of 300 additional spaces beyond those within the building’s footprint and setting a not-to-exceed limit on cost to build at $9 million bucks – Council ask staff to come back to them with answers to these three simple questions:

  • What parking structure design will best meet the public’s need?
  • How much will it cost to build?
  • Where will the funds come from to pay for it?

Sounds simple, right?

When you read the staff report you’ll likely be as shocked as I was.

Buried within the 50+ pages of cityspeak, hidden agendas, a blizzard of numbers that would boggle the mind of John Nash must be some answers. If you can find any, please post a comment here and share them with the rest of us.

If you came away with more questions than answers, I know I did, I hope you will step up and share them with Council on the 16th.

The only conclusion I am able to state with any certainty is this; somehow Council needs to back away from the politics and focus on building a sensible and affordable parking structure that serves the people first.

There is a lot more riding on this than simply solving a decade old problem.

Somewhere between $30 and $40 million dollars of private investment hinges upon Council making a prudent and expedient decision. Click here for a condensed presentation of what some of that investment would be.

New Improv

A novel idea?

From day one Council’s mantra has been, “Parking in downtown Brea will always be free.”

Free ParkingThe most contentious element in the equation has always centered around funding. The greatest objections have always been against spending General and 560 Funds.

The probability of ever getting our hands on even a fraction of the redevelopment money, millions, pilfered by the state remains uncertain.

Who besides me would be okay with paying a buck or two to use the new parking structure? Seriously, it’s cheaper than valet, faster than walking from Parking Structure 1. I’d even pay a couple of bucks a month on my water bill for a resident’s annual pass.

Okay… it’s just a thought.

Parting comment.

When you email Council or, better yet speak during Matters From The Audience, try to avoid hunting for the guilty parties, getting mired down in petty politics and making ad hominem attacks. This does not move the discussion forward, serves no useful purpose and will not advance any cause that benefits the community.

Take a stand. Make a difference. Contact A Council Member.

Addendum: June 15

Ask Council to be bold enough to ask the hard questions and demand truthful answers.

It would seem prudent (at least to me and several thousand of my closest friends and neighbors), considering all the facts that have emerged in recent days, that Council should: issue an RFP not-to-exceed $9 million for Option 2: purely parking, a trash facility suitable to supporting the food and beverage business and police annex.

No housing. No commercial. Simply the parking structure we’ve needed for many years.

Cost should be managed as follows:

  • $3.7 million from returned RDA
  • $1.5 million balance of Valencia Drive fund
  • $300 thousand from Gas Lamp Square

This remaining balance of $3.5 million Council may choose between funding with reserves or a bond. It will easily be REPAID via valet and cell tower revenue and the incremental increase in sales tax.

Net cost to city/tax payers is ZERO. How’s that for a parking structure plan?