Latest News Articles From The San Ramon Tribune

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Mall War Heats up in San Ramon

Our hats go off to Lisa Vorderbrueggen, the Contra Costa Times Political Editor for her uncovering some of the behind the scenes legal happenings in San Ramon as it relates to the Downtown City Center Project. This is a must read article.

Search for: Mall war front shifts to San Ramon
By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 01/24/2009 06:37:34 PM PST
Updated: 01/24/2009 10:40:16 PM PST

THERE ARE NO coincidences, right?

Consider these developments in San Ramon related to its partnership with Sunset Development to build a new city center and high-end shopping mall downtown:

Read the Contra Costa Times article.

The Times article mentions that, "Stockton attorney Steven Herum filed a public records act request in November with San Ramon seeking all documents related to the project."

In addition to those items, maybe Lisa can ask some questions of Mayor Abram Wilson and Alex Mehran of Sunset Development Company. Maybe "Deep Throat" will give her some insight.

Why did Abram Wilson abstain for voting for or against Sunset Development buying back the 7.5 acres of property from the City of San Ramon for just a cost of living increase? See links in article: San Ramon Monkey Business in the Sunset

Does Mayor Wilson have any ties to Sunset Development for financial arrangements as part of his background being that of an Investment Banker?

Does Mayor Wilson or his company stand to gain any moneys on this San Ramon City Sunset Development public/private partnership agreement?

When will the city of San Ramon be releasing the Financial statements and public/private partnership agreements which were promised to be released months ago?

With Sunset Development's control over the proposed Downtown City Center properties (the 7.5 acre property has already been sold back to Alex Mehran) using the Option to Repurchase Property clause for substantially less than the properties are worth for both the 7.5 acres and the 11 acres, and the right for Alex Mehran to exercise that clause for whatever reason, including if he does not like what is being proposed to be built; did the City of San Ramon really own the property at all? Or was it a shell game? Or was this a scheme for Alex Mehran to avoid paying property taxes on the properties for all these years. Note: The option to Repurchase Property clause has been extended and will continue to be extended by the City Council, otherwise Alex Mehran would exercise his option to repurchase.

Mayor Wilson, your bio tells us that the cost has gone up substantially from the proposed $750,000,000.00 to now $900,000,000.00 and the downtown center project hasn't even been started yet. If you had those figures from at least 6 months ago, why haven't you released the actual financial figures to the public?

Given the state of the economy, and since this is a public/private partnership arraignment between the City of San Ramon and Sunset Development, what are the City liabilities and ultimately what will the San Ramon Taxpayers be on the hook for, if Sunset Development can not fill occupancy rates to the level prescribed? With reports almost everyday of major department stores, i.e. Mervyns closing, or downsizing, what happens in the case of not having any major department anchor stores or hotel chain coming to the San Ramon Downtown Center? What are the increased costs to the City for services and infrastructure support going to be? What if tax revenue is down, because of low occupancy rates, where will the money come from to pay for all the increased services?

From the N.E.W.S. Side of San Ramon.

Please read our San Ramon Tribune Welcome page today.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

2.7 Million Dollar Grant Available for San Ramon

With ballot "Measure WW" having being approved on Nov 4, 2008 by over two thirds of the voters in Contra Costa and Almeda County, it will provide funding to protect open space and create additional regional parks and trails for recreation. The bond measure was not a new tax, but an extension of a previous parcel tax for homeowners in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

A quick breakdown of what the funds are for.

• $500 million bond extension was approved by two-thirds of voters in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

• This extension does not increase the tax rate above the present maximum rate of $10 per year per $100,000 of assessed valuation (i.e. a home assessed at $400,000 will pay $40 per year).

• $375 million (75%) of revenue will fund Regional Park acquisitions and capital projects, with $26.2 million (7%) of that amount held in reserve for unanticipated future needs and opportunities.

• $125 million (25%) of proceeds will go to cities, special park and recreation districts, county service areas, and the Oakland Zoo for much-needed local park and recreation projects. Livermore area voters are not part of this extension tax as Murray Township was not within the East Bay Regional Park District’s jurisdiction in 1988 when the initial bond measure was passed. EBRPD continues to serve this community through new acquisitions of parklands.

• The Park Advisory Committee will provide citizens’ oversight to monitor all bond expenditures.

In addition to the general funds that are being used by East Bay Parks for projects throughout Contra Costa and Alameda counties, San Ramon is also entitled to a local grant of approximately 2.7 million dollars directly, with no matching funds required by San Ramon for either new park acquisitions, park land improvements, and even capital improvement projects.

Eligible Grant Projects

Capital Projects that will provide lands and facilities for recreational activities and services an historic preservation are eligible. Projects must be consistent with the Grantee’s park an recreation element of the general plan or appropriate parks and recreation planning document Public art projects are eligible as long as they are in or adjacent to a parks and recreation facility. The following types of Capital Projects are eligible for grant funding:

  • Acquisition (fee title or permanent easement for public access projects)
    • For land acquisition project applicants must submit a copy of the land agreement and appraisal if applicable for District approval prior to acquisition.

  • Development (including renovation of recreational facilities)
The following types of projects are ineligible for grant funding:
  • Libraries
  • Street and highway beautification
  • Master Plans
  • Public art not associated with a parks & recreation facility
  • Maintenance Equipment Purchase (trucks, mowers, tractors, etc.)
  • Non-fixed equipment (removable soccer goals, portable air conditioners, etc.)
  • Recreational programming and staffing
  • Normal maintenance and repairs expected to last less than 25 years. (The District shall make the final determination regarding expected project life.)

Below is a list showing grant eligibility for other cities and unincorporated areas in Contra Costa County and Alameda County based on population and allocation numbers.

Measure WW Park Land Grants

Let's hope our San Ramon City uses this money wisely. Here's an idea. How about including the San Ramon citizens in on deciding how the money should be used. By-the-way, the funds do not need to be used on one project only. Source: East Bay Parks Measure WW

Be sure to send in your articles today to the San Ramon Tribune.

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