Remember when OC Weekly did an expose last year of controversial extreme right “minister” Lou Sheldon? Oh wait, you don’t? OK, that’s right, it’s a different Sheldon! OC Weekly wrote about Lou’s Developer son Steve trying to game the system in Garden Grove to build condos… Even though it may put dozens of Downtown Garden Grove businesses at risk due to lack of parking!
OK, you should remember this oldie-but-goodie from last April:
… [A]long Garden GroveÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Main StreetÃ¢â‚¬â€one of the last relics of small-town America in the suburban sprawl that has engulfed Orange CountyÃ¢â‚¬â€Sheldon the younger is rapidly becoming a celebrity. Just not in a good way. Last October, the longtime consultant to the City of Garden Grove convinced city council to give him the exclusive right to develop a $40 million condominium project adjacent to Main Street. In approving the deal, the city sold him the landÃ¢â‚¬â€currently a city-owned parking lot serving Main Street businessesÃ¢â‚¬â€for just $1.5 million.
So what’s been happening since then? Follow me after the flip to take a look…
So what’s been happening since last April? Well unfortunately, Steve Sheldon with his big financial guns and cadre of political connections was able to win round one in the courts. The Garden Grove Downtown Business Association is appealing however, and according to Association President Scott Weimer, they are far from giving up on this.
But wait, why are all these small businesses opposed to new condos downtown? Wouldn’t new condos mean new customers? Wouldn’t new condos mean a nicer downtown? Not necessarily.
Here are some disturbing questions about the downtown condo development that the city of Garden Grove and developer Steve Sheldon have yet to answer:
1. Whether the City was justified when they circumvented the Garden Grove Parking Commission by arbitrarily and unilaterally deciding that the parking
lots, which are under the Parking Commission’s jurisdiction, were no longer needed for parking and could be transferred into the redevelopment agency in order to be sold without any competitive bidding directly to a public relations firm.
2. Whether the City violated its own ordinance by refusing to provide the
building and site plans to the Parking Commission for review and
approval, even though the Parking Commissioners’ duties include reviewing
and making recommendations to the planning commission on any site plans or
development plans of any projects that are proposed within their
3. Whether tandem parking, which is illegal under the city’s code, should
be allowed (with its 50% utilization factor) in the project.
4. Whether the developer (Sheldon) had the right to arbitrarily increase the
size of the project by 25%, after he had been granted the exclusive
negotiating agreement (ENA) by the city.
5. Whether the city, in granting Sheldon numerous concessions, variances
and zoning changes, complied with all the restrictive provisions of the
California Redevelopment Law.
6. Whether the city must comply with State Law in dedicating the funds
received from the sale of this parking lot back into the Parking District,
or be allowed to funnel funds over to the redevelopment agency.
Ever since Nick Schou asked these and other questions last year, neither Sheldon nor the city has answered these questions. So why is Steve Sheldon being given an exclusive no-bid contract? Why are so many of these decisions being made in secret? Why did the city sell Sheldon the parking lot for a measly $15,000 per future condo unit (total $1.5 million) when Sheldon’s expected to sell these condos for $400,000 to $600,000 each? And why is there no consideration being made for all the downtown businesses who would lose business due to the lack of parking once these condos are built?
These are some questions that need to be answered. And fortunately, the Save Historic Main Street Coalition is trying to get these answers. Now unfortunately, they’re currently being vastly outspent by Steve Sheldon as his legal team is doing everything possible to block this lawsuit. So what can we do about this?
Here’s what the Save Historic Main Street coalition says:
Recently, the Garden Grove Downtown Business Association filed a lawsuit to try and block this proposed development. This was done as a last resort. The Association, made up of business people, property owners and concerned citizens, tried to negotiate for a more modest development that would leave adequate parking. Our pleas were not even considered. We have retained a renowned attorney known for his success in battling cities in eminent domain issues. But legal costs are not cheap. And the city and the developer, both with deep pockets, feel they only need to hold on until the GGDBA goes broke.
How can you help?
Contribute to SAVE HISTORIC MAIN STREET. Your tax deductible check to SAVE HISTORIC MAIN STREET for $5, $10, $25, $50, $100 or more will send a message to our council that they should listen to the will of the people.
If you have time available, inquire about an associate membership in the Garden Grove Downtown Business Association. Please, tell your neighbors about the threat to Downtown Main Street.
Send your contributions and letters to:
Save Historic Main Street
12866 Main Street #100
Garden Grove, Ca. 92840
You know, this is something that isn’t just affecting Garden Grove. We’re seeing redevelopment battles like this one all over Orange County. Whether it’s the fight for affordable housing in Anaheim’s “Platinum Triangle” or the push to kick locally owned small businesses out of Downtown Santa Ana with the “Renaissance Plan” or fishy smelling efforts to clear out affordable housing for Dana Point’s “Town Center”, this just keeps happening over and over again. All too often, the needs of middle class residents get overrun by the desires of a privileged few. When will this madness stop? Well, here’s a way to stop it.
Think about it.