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Scrutinizing Two City Real Estate Deals

Editor,

The city’s recent purchases and removal of two major pieces of private property from the tax rolls is puzzling. The first $1.4 million purchase for the 479 Ocean Ave.  office building (2,500 square feet) was rationalized to house 15 city employees. This is a whopping $95,000 per employee to luxuriate in four existing suites, not counting more money the city will spend on improvements.

The Ocean Avenue purchase is contrary to good business sense when the city has been sitting on the “old” recreational building for five years.  This building was basically vacated when recreational activities were moved to the new community center.  As I recall, part of the justification for the new community center was to provide more office space next to the city manager’s office and to get rid of the back lot trailers.  The old recreational building is so underutilized that the City could easily house 20 employees using modern and efficient work stations for less than $1.4 million.  This would leave existing commercial property on the tax rolls.

How about almost $6 million for 725 Laguna Canyon Road next to Tivoli Too? This property will also be removed from tax rolls to the tune of $60,000 annually.  And why buy this, unless depleting the city treasury is part of the long-range plan to solve parking and Laguna Canyon issues? I almost gagged when I read about Councilperson Pearson gushing over the gift of public funds to the property owner saying “she had been excited and hopeful to purchase the property for a long time…”  Really?  Is anyone else excited?  I hope voters will remember how she likes wallowing in the public trough if she runs again in 2014 for the umpteenth time.

The two property owners got a terrific early Christmas gift at taxpayers’ expense.  Where is common sense in City Hall these days?

Vic Opincar, Laguna Beach

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