Thursday, April 24, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Revisiting, rethinking redevelopment?

By
From page A11 | December 08, 2013 | 22 Comments

The pitfalls of government-driven property development reared up this week when Fairfield agreed to sell two properties acquired by the former redevelopment agency.

Fairfield’s agency spent $750,000 around six years ago on two houses in the downtown area. Further money was spent on relocating the residents and tearing down the structures. Wonderful plans that were going to improve the area both aesthetically and financially were used to justify the purchase.

Fast forward to the current day, and the true market value of the two properties hovers around $150,000. Due to redevelopment district liquidation requirements, the properties must be sold.

Those doing quick math realize that we lost $600,000 on the deal, or 80 percent of the “investment.” I say “we,” as in the taxpayers, since those tax dollars, regardless of which fund, account or grant they came from, originally came out of our wallets.

Hindsight is 20/20, and a lively debate can be had as to whether city resources should have been involved in the first place. Even if one feels that projects like these are a wonderful use of resources, one should demand to know what lessons were learned and what corrective action will be taken to prevent another financial bloodbath.

If I, as a project manager or business agent in the private sector, lost 80 percent on a deal, I would certainly get a severe dressing down from my boss and/or banker, but would most likely be demoted or fired; this is a natural result when responsibility and accountability are expected. Are the agencies and personnel involved in this failed business deal being held responsible and accountable? If they are, it would be reassuring to the citizens to see what improvements are being implemented to prevent another disappointing project.

Personally, I hold these groups to a higher standard. Agencies were started and tax dollars were usurped without the citizenry ever opting in to these projects. We were told that their years of experience in real estate property management and navigating the halls of government for funding would bring new economic vitality and civic pride to our communities, and eliminate pesky “blight” from our neighborhoods. Yet, their experience didn’t allow them to foresee the real estate market crash, nor did it prepare them for the dissolution of redevelopment districts. We were left with assorted empty lots pockmarking our community.

As a taxpaying citizen, I am hesitant to trust them in future endeavors.

Those who think this is crying over spilled milk and it is time to move on should think twice . . . the second coming of redevelopment districts is on its way. Senate Bill 1 is making its way through the halls of Sacramento, which theoretically will fill in the gaps associated with Redevelopment 1.0.

At the county level, another redevelopment scheme is brewing at the fairgrounds. Half of the current fairgrounds are underutilized, not vital to the function of government, and could be considered surplus. In the private sector, if an organization has surplus property they usually sell it off and invest the proceeds in vital areas of the organization. The county feels that they should spearhead a retail development project, since, apparently, there is a dearth of retail space in Vallejo.

Why not sell off the surplus property, and take the proceeds to upgrade the fairground facilities that are being kept?

The Solano 360 project is running up a $100 million bill, should proposed bonds go through. Keep in mind that all the politicians and consultants cheerleading these type of projects and funding agreements rarely have any of their own money on the line. Consultants will normally be overwhelmingly chipper on any grandiose project; any consultant giving pessimistic analysis on favored projects will find themselves looking for a new gig.

Years down the road when taxpayers are covering the bills, the cheerleaders will be long gone, working on the next great project.

As I travel around the county, I come across numerous instances of vital infrastructure in various states of disrepair; potholes in our roads, and dangerous cracks in our sidewalks. I think to myself: Can any organization that has trouble maintaining cement and asphalt be proficient at property development? If a contractor that screwed up the pouring of a driveway for your house offered to redo your roof for you, would you accept?

It is easy to be creative and visionary when playing with someone else’s money. As always, we the people should always ask two questions when our government starts a new program or project:

  • Should the government be doing it?
  • Have they demonstrated competency to efficiently complete the project?

If the answer to either of these questions is no, then we the people should demand they shift their focus to vital and achievable endeavors.

Brian Thiemer is chairman of the Solano County Libertarian Party. He can be reached at lpsolanocounty@gmail.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 22 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • The MisterDecember 08, 2013 - 9:32 am

    Great article, Brian. My suggestion is: don't trust 'em and keep a boatload of tar and feathers handy!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • PaulDecember 08, 2013 - 12:31 pm

    We need NEW LEADERSHIP in Fairfield. Businesses are leaving. The filth is every where. Attitudes in stores are poor....how many folks travel to get better customer service to Vacaville? The best the leaders can come up with is a plan to deal with shopping carts. Did anyone think of asking what the Store owners thought?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. PracticalDecember 08, 2013 - 12:32 pm

    Brian, a couple of questions for you... 1) how much was spent to relocate the tenants? Unless I don't remember correctly, the properties were empty and the property owner was not taking care of them. They were blight. 2) what is the net result of Fairfield's Redevelopment Agency to date and projecting into the future? There were many successes along with the failures. Any idea of the amount of revenue that has been generated?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Matt DeMartileDecember 08, 2013 - 3:52 pm

    "Hello, I'm from the government and I'm here to help," said no one ever. Accountability is our job as taxpayers, as well as constituents. Apparently, apathy toward constituents, as well as city government is alive and well. Brian let me just say that I applaud your efforts to shake people from the stupor of our modern lackadaisical lifestyle. It's all too easy to overlook the fact that John Mraz is a bully and that Pete Sanchez is obtuse in the worse sense of the word. Yet, they are reelected term after term. I'm not saying that their obligations as people servants, which is what they ran on, is an easy task. All I'm saying, and it merely echoes what Brian says is, do your job and remove the insulation from yourselves. The rest, is up to us. If we don't light the fire, the wood will never burn.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • B. ThiemerDecember 08, 2013 - 5:43 pm

    I do not know the exact dollar figures for the relocation and demolition costs. The relocation was mentioned at a meeting; that's all I heard of it. Even excluding those costs, it still equals a $600K loss.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. PracticalDecember 08, 2013 - 5:53 pm

    Brian, the bigger of my two questions is what is the net result in revenue to the city through actions of the RDA? It's easy to pick out one acquisition that didn't pan out. What about the ones that did and are now revenue producing assets? RDA's were certainly abused at times, but there are some great success stories as well. Without RDA's, how do you suggest communities deal with blighted areas?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Question 4 Mr. ImpracticalDecember 08, 2013 - 7:13 pm

    Mr. Practical...Here's one net result you can chew on. The Fairfield City Manager makes more in annual compensation than any United States Governor. And once the City resolved it's RDA...His exorbinate salary NOW comes out of the GENERAL FUND which is really meant to provide City services to city residents..The General fund was never meant to absorb the EXORBINATE SALARIES of RDA employees that lost their funding. IS THAT THE NET RESULT YOU WERE TRYING TO DISCUSS!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. PracticalDecember 08, 2013 - 7:22 pm

    Not at all. City Managers get paid based on supply and demand and existed long before Redevelopment Agencies. Whether a particular City Manager is worth what they earn is a totally different discussion. I'm not even sure that he was paid from redevelopment funds prior to

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Here's the truth............December 08, 2013 - 7:54 pm

    Let me give you some insider knowledge that you can't find in your monthly Marvel magazine....Almost every California city that LOST RDA money had to make the conscious decision to QUIETLY bring their RDA employees somehow into their City's General fund. Now in turn..these General funds couldn't absorb these RDA employees and their salaries...So Cities gave the citizens the choice of either cutting services or RAISING their taxes....Welcome to Measure P, Protect Fairfield! Ha Ha....Let the truth be told!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. PracticalDecember 08, 2013 - 7:58 pm

    The forty city employees that lost their jobs because of the dissolution of RDA's would probably disagree with you.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Here's the truth.........December 08, 2013 - 8:04 pm

    The FORTY employees were General fund employees who were vaporized to make room for RDA employees....You need to quit talking out your shorts!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. PracticalDecember 08, 2013 - 8:07 pm

    Same difference. Still want to know the net result.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Here's the truth....December 08, 2013 - 8:17 pm

    Net Result.....Fairfield asked residents to increase their taxes UNDER FALSE PRETENSES! The Fairfield City Manager told City residents that they would have to cut city services because all the cuts have been made..and there's no meat left on the bone. All the while, RDA EMPLOYEES were tranfered to the General fund and were hiding in the bushes. I'm sorry you have trouble understanding what I'm trying to tell you..but it's the truth!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • FreddieDecember 08, 2013 - 8:14 pm

    Wow Mr. P...The City bleed a lot from RDA money for Saleries didn't they?...Wasn't it used for part of the City Managers & even PD?!...Thought it was for redevelopement?...

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • FreddieDecember 08, 2013 - 8:04 pm

    Hey Mr. P…Just one that didn’t pan out?!...Has that Theater down town been a money maker?!...What about the old truck stop?!...They paid big bucks for that and shut down a business just to pay more money to tear it down… They even GAVE part of it to a developer as part of the road to the field of dreams…How much is that generating?!…. They paid big bucks to buy & tear down the old bowling alley…What is that generating?!...Shall I continue?!...What about the property over at Auto Mall Parkway?!...Paid big bucks to buy the Roach Motel to shut it down & tear it down…Didn’t they (the City & City Council) pay buy bucks to get it back in a failed sale?!...How much is that generating?!...Shall I continue?!...

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Interesting.....December 08, 2013 - 8:27 pm

    What's your take on that Mr Practical?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • B. ThiemerDecember 08, 2013 - 9:40 pm

    I do not know the net profit/loss statements for the scores of projects the Fairfield RDA engaged in. If they can provide it, I would love to see it. Regardless of the win/loss figure, any loss should always be reviewed for improvement opportunities.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • B. ThiemerDecember 08, 2013 - 9:48 pm

    "Without RDA's, how do you suggest communities deal with blighted areas?" . I do not feel that that government has a role in cleaning up "blight". Market forces and voluntary agreements should determine the "best" use of property, not centralized planning. Moreover, "Blight" is a subjective term that can easily be twisted to suit assorted agendas. How I choose to pursue liberty with my property should not be subject to market trends and public whim, provided it is not creating a safety hazard to others..

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • http://california.municipalbonds.com/bonds/issuers/FDecember 08, 2013 - 8:56 pm

    Remember for the Bankers the End Game is the Bond Debt, click on F for Fairfield

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • http://laborissuessolutions.com/tag/municipal-bond-underwriters-discount/December 08, 2013 - 9:08 pm

    Remember a lot of this bond money is wasted on bureaucrat and planner salaries and continuing maintenance costs for projects that are "overdone" or not really necessary in the first place......You can not give away the goodies if you can not pay for them.....and somewhere along the line we all pay for them with increased taxation and bond debt.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • The MisterDecember 09, 2013 - 7:32 am

    In Vacaville, the State has taken possession of collateral pledged for some of these redevelopment bonds... they allowed Vacaville to continue to use the new police department building (it doesn't belong to Vacaville anymore, they pledged it to the bond holders) but they have "foreclosed" on other properties in Vacaville... most notably is a dozen or so municipal parking lots around town. Some even have chain link fences around them to keep you out!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Truth be told....December 08, 2013 - 9:50 pm

    Guess Mr. P had enough....

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Travis lines up 2 days of aviation excellence

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Congressman talks Travis, water

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Appreciate how good we have it now

By Angela Borchert | From Page: A2

 
Review set for $2M pizza case in Fairfield

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

Cherokee Nation to offer photo IDs at Rush Ranch

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3

 
Dixon May Fair has deals on advance tickets

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

Accused machete attacker testifies in trial

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3

 
Garamendi talks love, pro football and Peace Corps

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

All Things Art Festival organizers seek artists, vendors

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Author to sign books at Vacaville Museum

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

Kroc Center women schedule inaugural Taster Tea

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Theme park welcomes seal pup

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A4

Mother’s Day fair returns to Suisun waterfront

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A4

 
Docents to lead paddling tour in marsh

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A4

Juneteenth committee extends vendors, exhibitors deadline

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Congressional Art Competition is back

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Spilled tomato juice case set for trial

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4

 
Report: Shots fired from car on Clay Bank Road

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A5

Fairfield police log: April 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: April 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: April 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: April 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Weather for Thursday, April 24, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B12

 
.

US / World

Syrian activists accuse Assad of new gas attacks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Airport official: Teen had no clue he was in Maui

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Murder charge for Vallejo man in head-on crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
California bill reignites affirmative action fight

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Andy Lopez protest leads to school campus lockdown

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Navy Cross bestowed on heroic Marine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Bashtag: NYPD Twitter campaign backfires

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Soldier convicted in WikiLeaks case gets new name

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

US weighs clemency for inmates jailed for 10 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Gun carry rights expanded in Ga. under new law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

First lady announces one-stop job site for vets

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Rail safety effort marred by squabbling

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Small Wyoming town evacuated after gas explosion

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Camilla’s brother dies in US after head injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Lawyer: US man held in Cuba seeks to go home soon

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Captain who left doomed ferry had 40 years at sea

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Russian social media CEO quits, flees country

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Amid Russia warning, Ukraine is in a security bind

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Palestinian rivals to try again for unity deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
State senators get ethics training after scandals

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Opinion

Some Earth Day boos and cheers

By Jay Ambrose | From Page: A11

 
Question of the week: Will Flight 370 be found?

By Daily Republic | From Page: A11

Be the first and give specifics

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

 
What we can do about crime

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A11

Castro at odds with mentor on deportations

By Ruben Navarrette | From Page: A11

 
.

Living

Today in History for April 24, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 24, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

When Joe’s mad at me, he also ignores my 7-year-old son

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes for April 24, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Amazon snares classic shows in deal with HBO

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Jodie Foster weds artist Alexandra Hedison

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Singer Chris Brown’s DC trial delayed for months

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Performing dogs go big after $1 million TV prize

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
.

Sports

Girls soccer update: Armijo, Vanden on way to playoffs

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Mustangs swim to sweep of Indians

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Warriors, Clippers to meet in Oakland for Game 3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Sharks confident with chance to sweep LA Kings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Perez helps Rangers sweep A’s with 3-0 win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Party a century in the making for Wrigley Field

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

A’s reject 10-year Coliseum lease offer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Prep softball: Vanden rolls to 14-0 win over Fairfield

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Prep badminton: Unbeaten Mustangs cruise past Crushers

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Prep boys golf: Vikings suffer SCAC loss to Panthers

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Sanchez’s slam in 11th helps Giants beat Rox 12-10

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Prep track: Armijo girls get win in MEL 4-way meet

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Emmert supports more efficient, effective NCAA

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Phelps having fun in his return to swimming

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Suns’ Dragic honored as NBA’s Most Improved Player

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Seahawks to open NFL season vs. Packers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Oldest living ex-MLB player dies in Cuba at 102

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

 
.

Business

Wellness programs grow more popular with employers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Sales of new US homes plunge 14.5 percent in March

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Buffett disapproves of Coca-Cola’s pay plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Amazon snares classic shows in deal with HBO

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
US stocks edge lower after a six-day rise

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Facebook 1Q results soar; CFO to step down

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Obituaries

Phyllis J. Miller

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Jean Sophia Ruckdeshel

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Robert James Carty Sr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Dondi Martin

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard Of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9