Monday, March 21, 2005

Closed session key to parking garage condo deal?

California's Brown Act requires the City Council to do most of the public's business at open and public meetings. But it also allows the Council to meet in secret Closed Session to authorize its negotiator to buy/sell/exchange/lease real estate.

The minutes of the Council meeting of 12/21/04 record that the Council met with City Manager Kolin in closed session for Item 3.6, "CONFERENCE WITH REAL PROPERTY NEGOTIATOR/Property: 730 Third Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95404 (A.P.N. 009-072-044)/Agency Negotiator: Jeff Kolin, City Manager/Negotiating Parties: Hugh Futrell, Hugh Futrell, LLC/Tom Monahan, Monahan Pacific Corporation/H. James Schafer, Samuelson Schafer/Under Negotiation: Price and terms of payment".

And later under Item 5, the City Attorney reported on six similar closed sessions before the regular meeting: "City Attorney Farrell announced that the Council had met in closed session regarding items 3.1 through 3.6 as listed on the agenda. He stated no action was taken and there were no announcements to be made."

So according to the minutes, the Council in late December was negotiating with the three developers either the sale, or the purchase/exchange/lease of some property at 730 Third Street. No one has explained the City’s interest in that specific property, and that address may not be correct.

The address of Kinkos Copies, at the corner of Third and D, is 700 Third Street, and the small shops east of Kinko’s bear the addresses 720, 730, and 740 Third Street. The tenant at 730 Third Street was a shop called Chelsea at Home. A current sign across the front of 730/740 Third Street reads, "Metrodome Salon/Skin Care/Massage".

No one has claimed the City owns the property, so the negotiations must have been for the City to buy, trade for, or lease 730 Third Street. But it appears none of the three developers owned 730 Third Street last December either, so none of them could sell, trade, or lease it to the City.

Monahan Pacific reportedly was in the process of buying the whole corner, but Futrell and Samuelson Schafer apparently had no interest in the property. Monahan Pacific may still build a previously proposed project called The Rises, which has been described as being at 740 Third Street.

So why did the Council meet in secret to discuss the "price and terms of payment" for a property that didn't belong to any of the four negotiating parties? One explanation might be that the Council was working on a deal to buy or trade property with Monahan Pacific, in connection with the Council's parking garage project on the White House parking lot next door.

Futrell and Samuelson Schafer reportedly were competing with Monahan Pacific to build a housing component to the City parking garage. But what did they have to do with the property at 730 Third Street, or The Rises project?

Thereby hangs a tale too long to tell here in a single story ...

(To be continued)


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