The Santa Ana Planning Commission voted 3-2 in favor of allowing Mike Harrah to get out of agreements approved by the voters and start building One Broadway Plaza, despite having not made the proper infrastructure improvements and despite having NO tennants who are interested.Â Commissioners Vicki Betancourt and Eric Alderete were not present. One interesting NO vote came from Claudia Alvarez’ commissioner, Frank Acosta. No word if he has been turned to stone yet.
Below is a letter from Floral Park resident Julie Humphreys. Julie has been opposed to the project from day 1. She is a local attorney and a strong progressive in Santa Ana. Her sister is Kim Gerda, who was fiercly opposed to many of the traffic barriers that were meant to keep latino residents out of certain neighborhoods. In other words these are people who Art “NAMBLAÂ rocks” Pedroza cannot play the race card with. Here is the letter:
June 14, 2010
City of Santa Ana
22 Civic Center Plaza
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Re:Â Â Â Â Â AMENDMENT TO DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT NO. 2004-01
Filed by One Broadway Plaza LLC, to modify certain provisions of the development agreement to delete the 50 percent pre-leasing requirement; to allow the applicant to request assistance from the Redevelopment Agency; adjust the timing of the funding for the neighborhood traffic studies; allow additional time to refill any excavated area; and to delete the minimum of 51 percent ownership interest provision for the One Broadway Plaza (OBP) office tower at 1109 North Broadway.
Dear Planning Commission,
I strongly object to the above request to amend Development Agreement No. 2004-01.Â The 50% pre-leasing requirement, the private funding, the promised neighborhood traffic studies and improvements, building & excavation timelines, and OBP ownership interest were all integral parts of the Development Agreement that was previously approved, not only by the city, but byÂ public electorate in a city-wide vote.Â Because the residents of the City of Santa Anaâ€”in a public referendumâ€”voted to approve this development as represented in Development Agreement No. 2004-01, I seriously question whether the Planning Commission has the authority to modify the Development Agreement that was fundamental to the votersâ€™ approval.Â
It is quite clear from the information on the ballot that the voters were approving the project and other changes the construction would bring based upon these significant protections and assurances contained within the Development Agreement.Â From the voter pamphlets to the language of the referendum itself, the voters knew that in order to prevent the building of an empty, un-leased buildingâ€”or one filled with relocated government tenantsâ€”the developer would have to pre-lease the building 50% with â€œclass Aâ€ tenants prior to construction.Â The voters knew that the developer was required to provide significant traffic improvements (and studies) prior to construction.Â The developer traded on his ownership and commitment to the project in obtaining City Council and voter approval for the project.Â And, last, but not least, the voters knew that this was a privately-funded project and that they were not being asked to use public funds to build this project.Â Each and every one of these elements was fundamental to obtaining prior approval for this project.
All of the grandiose promises of this proposed development have come to naught.Â Yes, there is now an empty lot, but better an empty lot than an empty building. And if the plan is simply to relocate public agency tenants from other downtown buildings to this oneâ€”there would be no net growth for Santa Ana, and a lot of empty buildings.Â
The residents of the City of Santa Ana will have to live with this project long after any temporary construction jobs it may create have ended.Â If the project does not make financial sense as a private venture, it makes even less sense to use precious Redevelopment dollarsâ€”the publicâ€™s moneyâ€”to invest in this failed, private business venture.Â The prospective tenants of this project have all spoken: there is simply no interest in leasing new office space in this location.Â Moreover, this is not the only way for the city to create jobs.Â There is a glut of unused office space in this city and this County, and it would be irresponsible for the city to pour public funds down this private trough when there are so many other real public needs and many more worthwhile public projects that would benefit more city residentsâ€”any one of which will also create jobs.Â
VOTE â€œNOâ€ ON THIS PROPOSED AMENDMENT.
Well said and very good arguments. No doubt Claudia Alvarez will have her hit squad of slanderers ready to go for this. This building has proven to be a bust. After Measure A was approved, Harrah still had 2 good years left on the economy to fill the building and he couldn’t do it. Even one year after the vote, I spoke to people who worked on the Measure A campaign who mentioned without some extreme revisions to the Developers Agreement, this building would never see the light of day. Sad that the city would just cast aside the will of the voters to allow tax payer dollars to be used to bail out Mike Harrah.