The January 25, 2011, City Council meeting was a bit strange. When Mayor Machado got to item #6. (Ceremonial Matters-None Scheduled), he started to share something about a letter coming to the Council when Carol Patton, a merchant on Main Street, popped up and presented the City Council with a $5,000.00 check from the Placerville Downtown Association (PDA) to assist with the creation of Placerville’s Redevelopment plan. During open comment, Sue Taylor, asked if that was a done deal or if the City was going to put that item on the agenda and bring it back. Someone from the Council mumbled it would be put on a future agenda. It was very odd. Maybe the Merchants wanted to give the City a loan, with a repayment agreement, to help with the redevelopment process.
The next strange thing was item #12.3 in which the City moved $400,000.00 to the Redevelopment Agency, and the Agency is promising to pay back to the City when they are established. Since the dollar amount was not on the agenda, Sue Taylor asked if there was a way for the public in the future to link to the contract, how much money were they moving and how much had the City already spent. Their answer was the money (or obligation) was $400,000.00 and the City has already spent 85% of that.
Contract between City and Redevelopment agency:
So let’s see how this works… The City has already obligated the property owners of the City and the County (check the back of your tax bill– right now taxpayers are paying for redevelopment in the City of South Lake Tahoe) to pay back $400,000.00 just for “establishing the plan.” $279,447 has come from the City and $120,000 has been promised from a private organization called Placerville Area Convergence Team (PACT) and $5,000 was thrown in by PDA. So without a vote of the people the citizens of the County and the City are agreeing to use future property taxes to upgrade, certain privileged property owners, investors and developers’ properties instead of paying for fire, schools, parks, and police.
To explain all this, let’s try a fictitious example of how redevelopment can work.
The Council is considering two different projects. One is dealing with the ugly Grocery Outlet Mall (GOM) and the other is converting Mayor Machado’s Antique co-op on Main Street back to a theater. Since the City feels that the landlord of GOM is not attentive to his tenants needs and was arrogant enough to turn down $9 million from a developer to buy the mall, the Redevelopment Agency thinks the best thing to do is to condemn the strip mall and give it to a developer with shiny white teeth.
Now the developer can force out the family owned Grocery Outlet store, bulldoze the building and put in a clean new box store that would accommodate something like, say, a big global corporate chain – or as the Council says, an “anchor store.” With the pretty new store the property taxes will go up, the City will get more in sales tax that can be used to repay the loan over the next 45 years. Or they can take those new dollars, not pay off the bond, (they do have 45 years) and use the money to purchase the theater from Mayor Machado for say $2 million dollars.
Once they own the theater, they can let it sit there for years (lowering the value of surrounding buildings) while they acquire the money from taxes, or they can float another bond to fix up the theater… is $20 million enough? With the new, let’s say, 20 million dollar windfall they can hire someone they like to refurbish the theater… maybe someone from PACT… then the residents get to pay that off for the next 45 years instead of paying for anything else, like schools, fire, police and parks. What a deal.. Thank you, residents of Placerville.. for you will be the ones with that blight label on your property. I wonder if the people making these decisions will be alive in 45 years.
By the way, is Placerville really a blighted, distressed, urban community?
Are you confused… this is on the City’s website.
Placerville is a scenic and charming California gold rush town strategically located between Sacramento, our state capitol, and South Lake Tahoe, the famous center for recreational activities. The prosperity of California’s “Gold Country” that drew gold seekers of yesterday is still being discovered today. Our city remains a community that is rich in opportunity with a wonderfully diverse and vital lifestyle.
Should it not say, “Help Us we are distressed and blighted – send money”?
Later the Council talked about whether or not they would have the few thousand dollars to open the pool this summer. They should know by March.
Redevelopment Plan (Contract which the City and some County property owners are being put under)
PLEASE PLAN ON ATTENDING PLACERVILLE PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING
TUESDAY FEBRUARY 1, 2011