Moore On The Downtown Parking Structure.

Roy MooreYesterday, Roy Moore, weighed in on the downtown parking structure and unfunded pension liabilities… tying them together in a most sensible way. With permission, here is the heart of Roy’s message.

BreaNet, Issue #708

If I may, I would like to comment on the proposed parking structure to be built behind the Tower Building on Super Block A. In January 1999 the City Council approved construction of the buildings on Super Blocks A and B. At that time I argued for a parking structure.

We could have built it for five million dollars with Redevelopment money without disruption to existing businesses. The Tower Building would not have been empty for nine years. I still support such a parking structure. The Council has approved the concept but still is struggling with how to pay for it. It is apparent that tapping city reserves will be necessary.

I would submit that before this decision is made the City Council first formulate how to fund Brea’s unfunded liabilities. This most likely would have to look to these same reserves for a possible solution. This is no small problem. CalPERS currently reports that as of June 30, 2013 Brea’s unfunded liabilities are $108 million.

Although much has been done in recent years requiring city employees to contribute toward their maximum to cover their pensions it does not appear that this will totally solve the problem over the next 25 years.

Here is my recommendation for a possible solution.  Brea’s landfill is an asset that I believe will generate revenues until at least 2040. The determinant on when to close the landfill is the height of the “trash mountain”.

There are two reserve funds as a result of the landfill.

The Capital Mitigation Improvement Fund (560 Fund) currently has a balance of $5.16 million. This fund was created by the $10.5 million payment from the Orange County Waste Management for the eight year extension of the landfill. I believe there will be at least two more extensions.

The original amount has already been reduced by 50% to make improvements to Valencia Avenue (valid use of funds), pay two solar bond payments (supposed to be paid from electricity savings) and the Birch Street medians.

The second landfill fund is the Community and Economic Development Fund (140 Fund) which currently has a balance of $3.48 million and results from revenues received for out-of-county trash deposits in our landfill at $1.50/ton. This amounts to in excess of one million dollars a year.

I recommend placing a large percentage (at least 50%) of these two funds (current balances and future growth) into a special unfunded liabilities account to earn interest and be used to periodically pay down our unfunded liabilities.

So what does this leave to fund a new parking structure?

Assume a structure for parking only, no affordable housing and a not-to-exceed cost of $9.0 million: 560 Fund – $2.5 million, 140 Fund – $1.2 million, 110 Fund (General Fund) – $3.0 million, Redevelopment funds – $3.8 million.

This adds up to a healthy $10.5 million.

Note: the redevelopment funds may not be available and depends upon the State Legislature approval of Governor Brown’s trailer bill. Using long term financing could make up the shortage using the annual growth in the 140 Fund to make the payments.

The bottom line is that it is possible to put in place a plan to cover our unfunded liabilities and also provide a new parking structure in the Downtown. How the financing is structured and whether any of the funds are a loan to the Downtown is up to Council.

For what it is worth that is my two cents on the subject. – Roy Moore

Moore on MadronaAs always, thanks Roy.

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?