We know that four big fish real estate developers and commercial property owners have contributed almost all of the nearly $100,000 raised by the PAC, and that of that, $55,000 comes from related but opaque entities. (Theme for another day.)
Their five issues are parking structures, design review, historicity, term limits, and commercial building deterioration.
Why do the real estate developers behind Liberate Laguna want more parking downtown? Here’s one reason. One of the PAC founders, owner of the Heisler building (tenants Tommy Bahama and Skyloft), played the game so well that the building was approved for 510 restaurant seats with zero parking. By code, a 510-seat restaurant would have 170 parking spaces. (Think Javier’s Crystal Cove with acres of parking.) Avoiding that saved a bundle – easily $15 million had he bought the land and built the missing 170 spaces. (170 is ten percent of all downtown public or private spaces.) The problem is there are 510 people driving around looking for the parking spaces he didn’t build. Why not gamble $15,000 to see if the residents will pay for the parking he didn’t build?
Going through Design Review is no picnic, but last year the city issued 2,162 building permits. Only 249 projects even had to go through Design Review. Of those, nine were denied. Score: Approved Permits: 2,162 Denials: 9. Most applications get approved.
Billy Fried interviewed a PAC founding officer, asking if the city could adopt City Council term limits. He answered the city would have to change from a general law city to a charter city to do that. Slim chance. So why pretend?
Billy asked about historicity, and the PAC officer told how his application for a porch was denied. Bummer. Sounds like he has $17,000 to spare, a grudge, and a chance for revenge. Earlier he had written in the Indy that he had been bullied by the city. Seriously? What do you call $97,000 from four rich folks with a grudge? Financial bullying?
Commercial building deterioration. These folks own commercial buildings. Why are residents supposed to help them maintain their buildings while they collect the rent?
Back to parking: Billy asked the PAC officer if building parking would solve the problem. His answer: “No.” Most honest answer of the night. But why then pretend you can do all these things? What’s the real agenda? Something doesn’t smell right. Think before you vote.
John Thomas, Laguna Beach