Yep, if you are a Riverside ratepayer, you just bought yourself a building. The total time from when it was placed on the agenda of the Board of Public Utilities to the day the decision was made by Council to spend $40 million of rate payer money from the Electric Fund to have a “Taj Mahal” for RPU execs? 1 week. We got a million dollar baby which will need much more care then we know – from seismic retrofits, to new elevators, to new HVAC. As a bonus, the City is now in the business of real estate and property management, since about 50% of the building space will be rented to private entities (Chamber businesses no doubt receiving preferential leases).
According to the Press Enterprise, Councilman Paul Davis stated, “I think that once you look at the totality of it … it is better to be an owner.” Well, we guess Davis didn’t read the back up documents as to the 1980s structure numerous issues. We’d be willing to be this orchestrated fiasco actually will end up costing the taxpayers more – a lot more – than if RPU had simply found a new building after its lease (already extended once) had run out in 2022.
Of course, as we’ve become accustomed to, the backup documents to the staff report did not provide the financial analysis of the deal. “Trust us, we’re with the government!” seems to the be enough to satisfy officials like Davis. Were upkeep and maintenance costs included? How about the impact to city finances of taking the building off the property tax rolls? The public was not provided the analysis, and of course the deal was rushed through the process to quickly to ask for the information via a Public Records Act request – so much for Rockstar Russo’s promise of transparency!
Back in July 2011 the City of Riverside decided it was a good idea to assume the lease of the law firm BB&K for RPU at the Wells Fargo building. This would give BB&K an opportunity to move to the developer Mark Rubins newly built Citrus Towers, which was on the site of former Redevelopment Agency property – of course! In 2012 the cost annually for lease payment was over $1.6 million. We believe the move was made because Rubin couldn’t make his occupancy goals for his new building, and hence, his financiers were getting a wee bit nervous. At the time, we asked whether the formation of this love triangle – RPU, BB&K, and Rubin – was in fact just a gift of public funds?
More than likely former City Manager Brad Hudson thought this was a good deal, but not necessarily for the RPU ratepayer, as was often the case. Back in 2012, we not that real estate market research advisers, Grubb & Ellis, showed that while the City was prepared to pay $2.49 per square foot per month to help its buddies out, the average asking rate for the best office space in Riverside-Corona corridor was $2.10 per square foot. The firm stated that it was even cheaper for second tiered space (but we couldn’t have that! Only the best for public employees in Riverside!).
The issue of excess reserves has been raised by multiple members of the public at both Public Utility Board and City Council meetings during public comment since the Fall of 2014. Neither the Board of Public Utilities nor the City Council have taken action to comply with the RPU’s Reserve Policy. The existence of excess reserves indicate that the City, through its Public Utilities Department, has substantially overcharged its ratepayers for both water and electric services in violation of Propositions 218 and 26. Is Public Utilities quickly moving forward to craft and change language in order to utilize restrictive reserve funds, so they won’t have to reimburse the ratepayers for the overage? Or will they simply spend all the money on frivolous and project not in compliance with its Reserve Policy? We’re betting on both.
At a recent La Sierra/Arlanza Neighborhood Alliance (LANA) meeting, City Manager John Russo stated that because of the City’s heavy debt burden and pension obligations, we simply cannot spend any more money on new projects. We guess he wasn’t talking about RPU. What about the other city owned buildings – we couldn’t use them, like RPU has done at Orange Square and Utilities Plaza? Well residents are beginning to line up for a 40 cent tour of their new $40 million building. If you have to pay for it, you might as well see it!
This group of Riverside ratepayers don’t seem to be happy about this purchase…
OTHER TMC RELATED STORIES:
TWO OF FORMER PE ARTICLES BY DAN BERSTEIN’S, AND HIS TAKE ON SWAP ISSUE:
TMC, RATED RIVERSIDE’S MOST, “VISIONS OF GRANDEUR,” “FULL OF B.S.,” “IGNORANT,” “MISGUIDED,” “BULLYISH,” “FILTHY,” “SICK,” “PERVERTED,” “STUPID,” “PATHETIC,” “DESPICABLE,” “DISAPPOINTING,” “BELOW THE BELT,” “A NEW LOW,” “SHOCKING,” “OFFENSIVE,” “INAPPROPRIATE,” “HURTFUL,” “MEAN SPIRITED,” “DISTASTEFUL,” “EMBARRASSING,” HORIFFIC,” “SLANDEROUS” AND
MEZZSPELLED, “MISSPELLED” AND “OPINIONATED” BLOG SITE! TEMPORARILY BLOCKED BY THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE AT PUBLIC ACCESS SITES WITHIN THE CITY, THEN UNBLOCKED. I GUESS YOU CANNOT DO THAT ACCORDING TO THE ACLU. RATED ONE TWO ONE STAR OUT OF FIVE IN TERMS OF COMMUNITY APPROVAL RATINGS.. TMC IS NOW EXCLUSIVLY EXCLUSIVELY ON FILE WITH THE COUNTY OF RIVERSIDE’S DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE (WE BELIEVE THIS WILL END SOON, SINCE THE FOCUS IS NOW ON THE IMPROPRIETIES OF MR. “Z”. WE TRIED TO TELL YOU, BUT NOBODY LISTENED), AND DON’T FORGET WE ARE PROSSIBLY POSSIBLY ON FILE WITH THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE’S POTENTIAL SLAPP SUIT LIST… A STRATEGIC LEGAL MANEUVER THAT CAN BE DONE ONLY IN RIVERSIDE WITHOUT A CONTRACT… AGAIN, THANK YOU COMMUNITY OF RIVERSIDE AND THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE EMPLOYEE’S FOR YOUR SUPPORT! COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOMED, ESPECIALLY SPELL CHECKERS! WE JUST CAN’T SPELL! EMAIL ANONYMOUSLY WITH YOUR DIRT BY CONTACTING US AT: THIRTYMILESCORRUPTION@HOTMAIL.COM