The CITY always seems to amaze me, I think Mike Gardner said it best responding to a question regarding high salaries of appointed officials at one of the campaign debates, “We have to pay for talent”. Regency Tower was bought first with too much money from $126.5 million to $131.5 million. Now the Orange Street Garage is in the news again, thats the one that looks like the Bellagio in Las Vegas and was built on Redevelopment money. The sale of the Regency Tower to the County of Riverside included 400 parking stalls from the Orange Street garage. Zellerbach now states we don’t need all of them anymore and we can sell the city back the rights in the form of a lease for 150 stalls, for a mere $90,000.00. According to the City Council Memorandum for Tuesday May 24, 2011, the city will pay the county $25.00 a month per stall, that comes to a total of $3750.00 for 150 stalls per month, therefore $90,000.00 for a two year period. It seems quite nominal for a city employee to pay $25.00, where others are paying$35.00 and upwards to $65.00 in some cases and save the taxpayers $90K. As I’m understanding it, County employees are paying for their parking, as opposed to City employees who don’t. Regardless, the city states that this mere $90,000 will loosen up parking around the city for the public at large. Well, anyway, this whole mess originally started before the Regency Towers were built, where city officials thought with new construction, the developer would be bringing in new business to the city and city tax revenues would be boosted. So they reduced the parking requirement by one-fourth to the developer as an encentive, and agreed to sell him 400 parking stalls from the Orange Street garage for $4 million, that’s $10,000 per stall. But in January 2007, the city figured out that it actually cost you and me, the taxpayer, $7 million for the 400 parking stalls. That’s $17.500 for each stall, Ouchh! But it gets better, by October 2008 that number became $8 million and $20,000 per stall. So the $3 million faux pas become $4 million. Now what? Well it appears, that’s why government created Fuzzy Math, Creative Financing and the word “Subsidize”.
Leasing parking spots for government workers is just totally asinine! If they are incapable of finding a place to park on their own – just like the rest of us manage to do every day – then let them take public transportation to work. Government workers need to pay for their own parking, just like everybody else.
-Comment from PE by Dave’s Not Here
So at the time, Councilman Schiavone knew if the Regency Tower was sold to the County, their would be no intended benefit to the city. No new business’s or no new workers would be coming to Riverside, and the subsidy would be waisted. Schiavone said, “I don’t care if it is in writing or not”. “Make us whole. Give us back the incentive that wasn’t meant to be used like this”. By then is was just to late, nothing could be done, the city didn’t even think of placing this clause in writing. Now when the county of Riverside bought the Regency, this additional $4 million faux pas then became a convenient subsidy for the county, the other $4 million was probably added by the developer to the total sale price of the Regency Towers. Of, course Mike Gardner said this would not happen again, but that’s talent for you. Parking has always been an issue in Downtown Riverside with merchants and their customers, as with Arts Bar and Grill, which their parking was displaced by city construction. The city’s less compassionate attitude toward struggling merchants doesn’t help either. Why doesn’t the city care for merchants? They suffer the most, having their life saving tied up in their business’s and their future income. Many around town have been damaged by city redevelopment construction, and many merchants have left with no support effort by the city. For many of the merchants parking meters were an issue which fell upon deaf ears of city officials. Now the issue of parking meters comes up again, shall we now remove them, maybe it was a bad idea to begin with? First, Smart Park by Dom Betro, then removed and replaced with Parking Meters by Mike Gardner, all at taxpayer expense. And I understand the parking fund is still running at a deficit which I’m beginning to believe is the standard for city run business’s. I realize talent can be a good thing. Bell had their talent in City Manager Robert Rizzo with his benefit and salary package of $1,500,000.00 per year, but we won’t go into the falsifying public records part. Regardless, I’m not sure if the city knows what talent is, or what their persception of it is, but I’m still optimistic that my City of Riverside will one day become what it should be, but I believe it will be done without the great talent and expense we now have in city hall.
UPDATE: 05/24/2011: COUNCIL PASSES $90,000.00 FOR CITY EMPLOYEE PARKING, IN LIEU OF PASSING OF $50,000 FOR A CONSULTING FEE FOR A CITY WIDE MASTER BICYCLING PLAN.