Thursday, July 20, 2006

Car lot to become public works yard story

Car lot to become public works yard

By: ADAM KAYE - Staff Writer

---- The three-year search for a public works facility is over.

By a 5-0 vote Wednesday, the City Council approved $9.5 million to buy the Mossy Chevrolet dealership on Calle Magdalena as a permanent home for the public works department and San Dieguito Water District.

The approval triggers a 60-day escrow, which means the city could take possession of the 4.4-acre car lot well before Dec. 1, when the department's $1 annual lease expires at the former Pacific View School campus.

The vote followed alternating remarks of praise and criticism from nearly a dozen speakers.

Praise came from residents of Quail Gardens Drive, where officials previously had considered building the facility.

"I would like to encourage you to buy the Calle Magdalena property," said resident Kathleen Gille. "I don't think the (Quail Gardens Drive) site next to my home is appropriate."

Critics struck a sharper tone.

They demanded explanations for why an appraisal and environmental analysis were not included with a published city report. They said the car dealerships provide sales taxes that the city would regret losing.

"Let the citizens see how you made your decision," council watchdog Donna Westbrook said.

Mayor Christy Guerin responded that the city was within its rights to withhold the appraisal and environmental study. She said both documents would be accessible to the public after the vote.

Guerin rejected criticism that the council had rushed into the purchase.

"Working on this for three years is not rushing," she said. "I'm just grateful we have an opportunity to purchase a site. We're very blessed we came upon this."

City officials began negotiating with property owner Philip Mossy last month. Mossy did not attend the meeting.

Speaking to the loss of one of Encinitas' top-25 sales tax producers, Councilman Dan Dalager said Mossy Chevrolet is the fourth dealership to fold at the location just east of Interstate 5 and south of Encinitas Boulevard.

For some time now, Dalager said, Mossy has searched unsuccessfully for a buyer.

The service bays, office space, parking lot and equipment on the car lot were facilities the city would have needed to build and buy at great expense, he said.

"It's unfortunate it was a bad site for them," Dalager said.

The council's action included setting aside $100,000 to buy vehicle lifts, portable buildings and furniture.

The property is zoned for commercial uses and includes 16,927 square feet of offices, covered work and storage areas, service bays and an employee break room. Outdoor parking and storage space total 182,373 square feet.

Under the agreement, Mossy must remove any soil contamination or underground tanks at his expense.

Good location, too much money, happy the issue is finally resolved? Discuss in the comments section.


  1. If it was a bad site then was it worth less than what we paid?

  2. I'm curious to see the full list of the top 25 sales tax producers.

  3. Did the Methodist church show up? You know, the ones who hate mexicans.

  4. The mayor did say,  "Working on this for three years is not rushing."
    But, that is misleading and did not address the point. They have only recently considered this site and this amount (9 miiiillion dollars which just happened to be how much we had budgeted).
    If both sides were comfortable with the appraisal why not show it to the public before they voted? I asked for this last night or an explanation as to why they wouldn't. They kinda gave the "because we don't have to." I think there was also a hint that it would be bad for negotiations, but I don't buy that one bit.

    Here is why, 
    The staff report says the sale price was set at the appraisal price. Fair market value. This might make a lot of sense because the sale appears to have been made under "friendly" condemnation.  I say appears because the council and city attorney danced around this issue. It is mentioned in the sales contract. If both sides are happy with the appraisal why force the public out of the loop?
    It is even more confusing because Jerome and Dan implied that they did some sort of great negotiations and got the City a great price. But, they only got a sale price of the appraised value. At face value that is pretty bland if you ask me. In fact, Dan made the case that this site is a lemon as car dealership and that Mossy tried and couldn't sell the site to other dealers. Apparently several dealerships have sunk at that location and this is the only Mossy dealership to ever sink. That means the site is worth much less than if it was a desired location for a dealership. Maybe it should be valued at the cost of the land minus the cost to level the site and prepare if for a new use, because as zoned its infrastructure apparently doesn't meet any potential competing buyer's needs.

    Did the Council's appraisal take that into consideration? Watchdogs wanted to know and the Council didn’t want to show them. 

    That being said I was not against a purchase of this site. I just wonder about the price.

  5. the appraisals, and everything else that no one could see during the negotiations will be made available to public in the next ten days. This will go before the planning commission and a community hearing over the next eight weeks for full disclosure and community input. if you tried to buy 4.4 undeveloped flat commercial acres and then built a PW yard, you could not do it for 9.6 million or by dec 1st. no one spoke for the methodist church last night. the saxony and quail springs sites were officially removed from consideration as PW sites last night. i talked to the city attorney last night and the city is going to provide me with background info on J. Smith fri. or monday. i'll ask if a list of the top 25 is available to the public.

  6. So who had who over a barrel?

  7. Ok, This is a bit lengthy but good information.

    The top 25 sales tax generators is a public document titled Encinitas Sales Tax and is circulated to the media and groups like the chambers of commerce and town councils. It's very availble for those who choose to look.

    It comes out quarterly and the data is about one year in the rears.

    The data is the sales tax that the merchats pay to the board of Equalization, and then that total is reported in the city that it was generated in and further reported in geo areas within the city and in per resident income.

    So it's real world data and cannot be spun as speculative one way or the other.

    The per capita or per resident sales tax income is the important number. Eseentially this is how much money/income per resident that the city has to spend providing services to it's citizens.

    The other large income chunk for cities is property tax which is of couse not addressed in the sales tax report.

    We all have a natural tendency to focus on the cost of projects and what we want as citizens but very few of us focus on the income side of that equation that gets to pay for it all. That is just as important so here it goes.

    For example, sales tax income income as reported in the latest report:

    Carlsbad, $6500 per quarter year per resident.

    Encinitas, $3800 per quarter per resident.

    San Marcos, $4440 per quarter per resident.

    Oceanside, $1950 per quarter per resident

    Vista, $2650 per quarter per resident

    Solana Beach, $4200 per quarter per reident.

    You can see the marked differences in cities and then assess for yourself the lever of servicies provided in those cities.

    The top 25 change from quarter to quarter depending on seasonal sales. They appear in alphebeticle order and no information is provide as to dollar amount. Good reason forthis because it's private business and competitors would love to see it.

    BMW Harloff
    Barnes & Noble
    Bererages and More
    Circuit City
    Comp USA
    Encinitas Ford
    Encinitas tile Supply
    Financial services vehicle trust
    Hansens Surfboards
    Herman Cook volkswagon
    Home Depot& Expo
    Home Goods
    Linens N things
    Mossy Chevrolet
    Office Depot
    Sports Authority
    Stater Bros.
    tj maxx
    Trader Joes

    You can thank these folks (or blame them if you're so inclined)for helping to pay for everything.

    My summery (subjectivity follows)

    Although there is a lot of personal wealth in Encinitas, it was set up as mostly a bedroom community at incorporation and we have few large tax generators. Our income as a city is just over half of what Carlsbad is and less than San Marcos, Solana Beach, Escondido, and more than Oceanside and Vista.

    That income = service levels.

    All in all, encinitas does a really good job whith what it has to work with.

    Plus its a great to live and work.

    Thanks JP for the blog
    hope the info helps.

  8. great stuff, thank you tax man anonymous.

  9. Hey, everybody, we just went to City Hall, as we wanted to here the press conference in person.

    The Press Conference was essentially, a "closed session," and Christy Guerin came in to the lobby to invite Adam Kaye and a photographer to come in to the area where the City Manager's private office, and Council Members private offices are. I started to walk in and Guerin blocked me. I asked, may I come in, she said, no. I said I thought if she was having a press conference at City Hall that the public should be able to attend, too. She said she would talk to me later, if I wanted. This was said for the benefit of Adam Kaye, and the photographer, for she has always, without exception, refused to return my calls or to speak with my, personally.

    We didn't want to wait, and felt reminded of my deposition at City Hall, where a Judge attended, without notice.

    We tried to encourage the press to be able to come, to sit behind the glass, in the Carnation Room, as my deposition was held by Randal Morrison in Council Chambers. Russell and I were not allowed to be present in the room for one another's depositions.

    Randal Morrison stated, at my previous deposition, that the press would not be allowed in then, either. So Morrison, who is not officially a City Attorney, can decide when the public is allowed in, or not. Christy Guerin can decide that the press is allowed in, but the public is not.

    This is not fair. She was wearing black. I hope to God this means she will not run again. We'll have to wait and see. We didn't see anyone but the North County Times there, unless the SDUT and the Coast News were already behind the closed glass security doors, which act to prevent public participation and interaction, and to block the public from seeing the political favors and public relations spining that regularly goes on. At least Jerome Stocks, before, had his press conference in the parking lot.

  10. As far as the public works yard, what no one is addressing is that December 1st is not a rock solid deadline, at all, to be out of Pacific View. That is simply when the lease would have to be renewed, there. To our knowledge, there was no mention made that the Public Works Yard must vacate then. In fact, from what we know, the development plans have completely stalled on that property, and it is zoned for public use, anyway, not private, commercial use, or mixed use.

    So why keep bringing up the Dec. 1 deadline? Why couldn't the Public Works yard stay there, indefinitely, at the $1.00 per year lease rate the City enjoys? Or why couldn't it be located in several smaller sites? They are good neighbors, and none of the neighbors from the Pacific View School Area have complained, to our knowledge. They are all so relieved the previous superintendent retired, and the "Starship Devore" commercial development plans are not going through.

  11. Hey, I mean hear the press conference, not here it.

    Typo alert!

  12. City Policy needs revampingJuly 20, 2006 4:49 PM

    Thanks, Just a Plumber, for your comments on the previous post. I'm glad to know, from you, that you're not Doug Long. We are worried about him, because of his stated support of City Policy. We think City Policy needs big changes, including more openness with the general public, more tranparency, and more common sense when it comes to spending big, then making us pay for it, down the line.

    This public works yard being rushed through, after negotiating for only one month with Mossy, is a prime example. This was not planned for three years. What was planned, before was getting a new site. The yard at Pacific View is fine, for now. Why isn't the question being answered about why we can't simply renew the lease with the Encinitas Union School District come Dec. 1st. Artificial "deadlines" are dishonest and don't make good sense for our taxpayer dollars.

    This is like a hard sell scenario. Do it now, or lose out, when that is not the case at all. Christy Guerin's saying this has been in the works for three years is hogwash. The reason we need a new one is because the old public works yard was demolished for the library. So we can add on 9.5 million, now, to the cost of our new designer library, when the old one, believe me, ask anyone who used it, was working just fine, thank you very much.

    We could have added on a computer room, computer equipment, but that doesn't have the trappings of success required by our status happy Council Members, wanting monuments to their humongous egos.

  13. I wonder too about the price negotiated for the Mossy Chevrolet property and how it was done. I am not against using the site for the public works yard. Did the city get a good price?

    This property used to be Coast Nissan. I took my car there for many years. It was well run and convenient, as I live west of I-5. I could leave my car and walk home. Then it was bought by Mossy to become Mossy Nissan, and Chevrolet was added later. I continued taking my car there, but service quality dropped, and Mossy went through a lot of service managers. I know because I went in to complain to all of them. At one point they recommended a new timing belt after a new belt had less than 20,000 miles on it. They agreed to a free belt after admitting that the previous belt had stretched or been installed improperly.

    It was obvious that Mossy had deep, serious management problems at this location. They decided to move the Nissan part to Carlsbad, but then decided on Oceanside, and leave the Chevrolet part in Encinitas. I go to Mossy Nissan in Oceanside now. It's not as convenient and initially had serious management problems too. Part of this was due to problems at Nissan Japan, but these have all been turned around. Nissan service and parts quality is way up.

    Nissan Chevrolet? I know nothing about this. Did our city rescue Mossy from a sinking ship? Maybe. My fear now is that the cost for conversion will rise above the $100,000 projected. Remember city hall? The conversion ended up costing millions. At least with Mossy there is a better fit with a public works yard. It not like trying to turn a shopping center/supermarket into a city hall. I'm saying a little prayer that our impulsive council didn't rush into something so they could get out of a bad situation that they had created themselves. Don't forget that we had a public works yard a few years ago.

  14. True, we had a Public Works Yard slated for Quail Gardens Drive until the locals there (including Ecke/Carltas) threatened suit. I believe that is the reason the council backed away from their previously selected/preferred site.

  15. There were other sites available a few years ago. Even one owner actively approached the City... but noooo they had Ecke plans. Would it have been a lot cheaper all around?

  16. A tool sharpener vs a veteran car salesman. Those must have been epic negotiations. I bet we paid 2-3 million more than the land was worth.

  17. Artificial DeadlineJuly 20, 2006 10:19 PM

    We had a public works yard where the library expansion now is planned, without the funds to finish. So a new bond will be pushed, but avoiding our vote, although we will foot the bill.

    Why isn't the Pacific View site being addressed. Why the artificial deadline, when the lease could have been renewed, per Encinitas City Council, itself?

  18. It time for Teresa and JPJuly 21, 2006 6:47 AM

    JP- Christy is not running. Time to step up to the plate. I say Teresa and JP would make fine councilmembers and would even out our current council. What do you say JP?

  19. could JP balance his time between the city council and his volunteer work with orphans?

  20. Volunteer work with orphans!

    The best line of the Year!

  21. I wrote, "Did the Council's appraisal take that into consideration? "

    It did give a valuation under the apparently realistic senario that site would not support a car dealership!

    The property is worth a million dollars less than we are paying according to the City's appraisers, if it isn't to be used for a car dealership.

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