Opinion » Shredder

What a deal!


Here’s a quick quiz: You’ve got a prime piece of land. You get it appraised and turns out it’s worth, max, about $9 million. A developer comes in and offers you $1 million in cash for it, plus a couple million more so you can replace the parking spots that were on it. You walk away with a net $1 million. Remember, it’s worth nearly $9 million.

Do you take the deal?

According to SLO City’s managers, you do. They’re recommending the city sell its buildings and the best parking lots in the city to the Copeland family at a discount so that the Copelands will go forward with their plans to build the ever-shifting Chinatown project. (And the heavy, heavy subtext of the whole pitch is that the Copelands will pull out if they don’t get this deal.)

Confused about why exactly the city would take such a deal? Let me use the words of city staffers to patiently explain this to you.

“The Chinatown transaction isn’t a ‘straight business deal…’” Apparently not! Those usually involve getting a good price.

Instead, the staff report argues that the city will get about $1 million per year in sales and hotel taxes and that future money makes it worth giving a discount on the land today: “Placed in context, the real fiscal value of this project to the city lies in the significant ongoing revenue stream that it will generate rather than the one-time proceeds from the sale of the property.”

Translation: I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.

Stay with me, Wimpy, and check out this next line from the staff report: “This is coupled with the revitalization of a portion of downtown that is currently underperforming.”

Excuse me? Do the words “revitalization” and “underperforming” really apply to the heart of SLO’s downtown, where it’s already impossible to park and the sidewalk groans under the weight of all the skimpy underwear sold? Maybe those two words applied when the Copelands first took an interest in building in downtown SLO, but gratitude, like the milk in my refrigerator, has an expiration date.

And perhaps the most astounding part of this is that the Copelands were on the hook to pay even more to the city before the deal was renegotiated at the demand of the council members. As I remember it, under the previous deal, the Copelands would have paid about $3 million for the city’s land, plus had to replace parking spots.

So the SLO City Council members somehow went into renegotiations that they demanded and ended up getting bargained way down. Is it any wonder the police union managed to outflank this group of crack negotiators?

The matter’s getting voted on by the City Council on July 1. Come on down and watch who gets bargains in SLO real estate.

McCain’s California dream
Certain news items make you spit your coffee even after you’ve swallowed, or maybe it was just that expired milk I added to it. Still, there it was when I read in the L.A. Times, that GOP nominee John McCain came to Santa Barbara to lecture us Californians on how to be greener.

The story says that McCain, speaking at an “energy round table”—a term that sounds vaguely alienish to me—said that the United States needs to “draw on its own vast reserves for oil and natural gas.” McCain, remember, has called for dropping the ban on new oil drilling off the nation’s coast.

So, John McCain came to Santa Barbara to don the green leaf of environmentalism and advise Santa Barbarans to further spoil their own coastline? Our own coastline? In Washington, this guy’s known as a “maverick,” which in beltway banter means “nutty as a pecan pie,” but still I can’t believe he had the marbles to wander over to the left coast and tell us we should smile as he inserts ugly new oil wells up our Continental Shelf.

Even stranger still, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was by his side as he made the recommendation.

That’s the Schwarzenegger who supposedly hates the idea but, by all appearances, isn’t holding his nose as he campaigns for McCain in the same way he did when he appeared for Bush.

If Schwarzenegger can make us believe that John McCain and his oil rigs are going to be good news for the California environment, then I’ve got a parking lot in SLO I’d like to sell him.

One final Rogue note
Stacey Warde and Dell Franklin, the editor and publisher of the Rogue Voice, that alternative-to-the-alternative press that calls itself “A literary journal with an edge,” have announced the RV is calling it quits.

While the RV took pleasure in ripping New Times, and our Arts Editor Ashley Schwellenbach reviled the rag for its persistently male-oriented viewpoint, I take no pleasure in its passing. The writing was original, it was never dull, and sometimes when they said we sucked, they were right.

I’ll especially miss the voice of Duane Hagabee, that self-satisfied, hard-to-locate CEO of Hagabee, Hagabee, and Hagabee who frequently wrote to boast of the golf shots he could make from his deck and to chastise those who were anything but deliriously content with the SLO life.

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