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Cerritos City Council Meeting Minutes

MINUTES OF A JOINT MEETING OF THE ABC UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF EDUCATION, CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF CERRITOS, AND CERRITOS REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY HELD ON MAY 1, 2007

At 7:00 p.m. the Joint Meeting of the ABC Unified School District Board of Education, City Council of the City of Cerritos and Cerritos Redevelopment Agency was called to order in the District Board Room at 16700 Norwalk Boulevard, Cerritos, California. 

ROLL CALL

President David Montgomery             Mayor/Chair Laura Lee
Vice President Mark Pulido               Mayor Pro Tem/Vice Chair Jim Edwards
Clerk Louise Dodson                         Councilman/Member Bruce W. Barrows
Board Member Olympia Chen           Councilman/Member Joseph Cho, Ph.D.
Board Member Cecy Groom             Councilman/Member John Crawley
Board Member Armin Reyes
Board Member Celia Spitzer

PUBLIC HEARING

JOINT PUBLIC HEARING OF THE CITY OF CERRITOS, CERRITOS REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY AND ABC UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF EDUCATION

Information, discussion, and consideration to authorize further actions related to a proposed development involving the City of Cerritos/Cerritos Redevelopment Agency and the ABC Unified School District for the construction of an affordable senior housing community for individuals age 55 and older, a senior recreation center, a 3.78-acre park, and remodel of an existing kitchen/warehouse facility for student lunch preparation located at 16700 Norwalk Boulevard in Cerritos (APN 7012-001-900) and for the construction of an administration building located at 12616 183rd Street in Cerritos (APN 7030-002-902).

Title was read the public hearing was opened.

Dr. Smuts stated the following:

  • Opposition to the project appears to be based on three issues: the concept of allowing low rent housing in Cerritos, capacity of the ABC Unified School District to accommodate future student population growth, and the legality of the Cerritos City Council/Cerritos Redevelopment Agency voting on the issue.
  • California Redevelopment Law requires that twenty (20) percent of all tax increment revenue received annually by the Agency (Cerritos Redevelopment Agency) be set aside for the construction and/or rehabilitation of housing for low to moderate income households. The proposed project will satisfy the City’s requirement for low to moderate income housing.
  • Low and moderate income seniors do not pose a threat to the community.
  • Current District student enrollment is 21,193. Student enrollment in 2002 was 22,332. ABC’s enrollment is declining by 300-400 students per year and the trend is expected to continue. ABC’s current student capacity is 22,500. If necessary, ABC could re-open the Cabrillo Lane campus (currently leased to the Regional Occupational Program). Dr. Smuts stated that the District’s ability to accommodate the future student population will not be impacted by the Senior Affordable Housing Development.
  • At the Joint Meeting of April 25, 2007, Ms. Groom presented a document from the Legislative Counsel of California stating their opinion that the approval of the senior affordable housing development would be subject to local voter approval as set forth in Article 34 of the California Constitution.
  • The Assistant to the Legislative Counsel confirmed, via a telephone conversation, that the document provided by Ms. Groom has been altered. The letter contains two factual errors that predicated the Legislative Counsel’s opinion: the letter states that the District will lease the land to the City of Cerritos, in fact, the District will lease the land to a 501(c) non-profit corporation; the letter states that the proposal guarantees that 49 percent of the units would be occupied by low income seniors, in fact, low income seniors would occupy 43 percent of the units. Both facts are important and the representative for the Legislative Counsel indicated that the Counsel may have offered a different opinion if they had been given accurate information.
  • ABC’s legal counsel has researched the Patitucci case cited in the document provided by Ms. Groom. The District’s legal counsel is of the opinion that when true and accurate facts of the proposal are examined, the Patitucci case actually confirms the legality of the City Council/Redevelopment Agency approval process contained in the proposal. Dr. Smuts read the opinion provided by the District’s legal counsel stating that the Legislative Counsel’s opinion should be disregarded because it is based on inaccurate facts and the absence of legal analysis.
  • The City Council/Redevelopment Agency and the Board have been very responsive to the community and have made significant modifications to the original July 2006 proposal. The project would protect and upgrade educational facilities for the next 55 years and it is good for all students, staff, and schools in all six cities served by the District. He urged the Board and the City Council/Redevelopment Agency to keep an open mind and to continue to explore the project.

Torrey Contreras, Director of Community Development for the City of Cerritos, provided a proposal summary of the Senior Housing Development. Mr. Contreras provided a review of the public notices and meetings on the project, California affordable housing mandates, California Public Housing Law, Article 34 compliance, rental eligibility requirements, the architectural description for the apartments and senior center, parking for the project, park description, District warehouse and Nutrition Services consolidation and remodel, proposal for a new District Office building and the lease agreement, and future meetings on the proposal.

President Montgomery stated he would take questions and/or comments from the City Council/Redevelopment and the Board, followed by Public Comments, and a last round of questions and/or comments by the City Council/Redevelopment Agency and the Board.

Councilman/Member Crawley stated that he had no questions at this time.

Councilman/Member Cho stated he reviewed the documents from the April 25, 2007 Joint Meeting and as Dr. Smuts explained, the legal opinion from the Legislative Counsel does not apply to the proposal. Dr. Cho asked what type of developer was involved in the Patitucci case. Bill Ihrke, of Rutan & Tucker Law Firm and Counsel for the Cerritos Redevelopment Agency, stated that the Patitucci case dealt with the California Housing Financing Agency and whether or not bonds could be issued without going through a local voter approval as required in Article 34; the Patitucci case did not deal with a particular developer and how it was created. Councilman/Member Cho asked if the City is creating a non-profit organization to avoid voter approval as required by Article 34. Mr. Ihrke stated that California Corporations Code provides for the creation of a public benefit, non-profit corporation which can be set up by anyone and becomes a separate and legal entity from the City or creating public or private entity. Dr. Cho stated that he feels the City would be creating a non-profit corporation to avoid the election.

Councilman/Member Barrows asked if the letter provided by Ms. Groom was allowable, how would it impact the State’s housing laws. Art Gallucci, City Manager, responded that it would appear to stop all State-mandated housing developments in California and it would stand in the State’s way of enforcing its own mandates. Mr. Barrows agreed that the State would not be able to enforce its own housing laws. Mr. Barrows asked if the project was placed with another non-profit housing agency, how much leeway would that agency have in reflecting the wishes of the Cerritos community. Mr. Ihrke responded that if the redevelopment funds are not spent within the allowable period, the funds will be turned over to the County housing authority and the City will have no say in the matter. Mr. Barrows asked what happens if there are not enough 55 or older applicants. Mr. Gallucci stated that the four senior housing developments that the City has built have a 62 or older requirement and they are filled and there is a waiting list of applicants for vacancies. He stated that there is a waiting list of 1800 senior applicants for the 18 units under construction on Carmenita Road and 183rd Street. Mr. Barrows asked that a traffic concern about an additional 1,100 vehicles at the proposed new District Office site on 183rd Street and Bloomfield Avenue and across from the high school be taken into consideration.

Mayor Pro Tem/Vice Chair Jim Edwards stated that he had no questions at this time and would reserve his comments for later.

Mayor/Chair Lee asked Dr. Smuts if other school districts have established private corporations. Dr. Smuts stated that his previous reference to joint projects was to offer examples of projects between redevelopment agencies and school districts, not

non-profit corporations formed by cities. He noted a project between Norwalk-La Mirada USD and City of Norwalk’s RDA where an abandoned school site (Hoxie ES located near the 605 freeway) where the property was sold and a Costco was built. Mr. Gallucci mentioned that page 21 of the City’s report contained a list of senior affordable housing developments in other cities. Mayor Lee stated that she understands that establishing a non-profit corporation is within the law but it is the City’s responsibility to explain it to those who do not understand. Mr. Gallucci stated that Section 37000 of the Health and Safety Code was approved in 1976 and provides for the establishment of a non-profit corporation and that law has been used repeatedly. Mr. Ihrke stated that California Universities and California State Universities have set up non-profit corporations to provide affordable student and teacher housing. Mayor Lee asked if the pool will be open to other Cerritos residents like the proposed Senior Center will be. Mr. Gallucci stated that the pool is only for residents only of the senior housing project.

Board Member Spitzer stated that she had no comments at this time.

Board Member Reyes asked if there are guidelines/statutes/codes that will direct the District on how the project rent money can be spent. Dr. Smuts responded that the Board and the Superintendent are on record that the money will be spent for educational facilities; Education Code 17462: “The funds derived from the sale of surplus property shall be used for capital outlay or for costs of maintenance of school district property that the governing board of the school district determines will not recur within a five-year period.” and thirdly, tonight the Board will consider a resolution to declare the District Office property as surplus property and that resolution states in three places that the money will be used for education facilities.

Board Member Groom asked for the City’s justification to the Internal Revenue Service in their application to be a 501(c), non-profit organization, exempt from revenue taxation. Mr. Ihkre responded that the justification is that the organization will be established for public benefit which will include the charitable purposes of providing affordable housing and providing funds for educational purposes. Ms. Groom disputed the declining enrollment statistics, saying that the overlay project should be factored into future student population estimates, and that the Schools of Choice information contradicts the Superintendent’s declining enrollment information. She asked why Whitney HS is not included in the Schools of Choice information and why the Board is requested to approve a portable classroom in tonight’s agenda if schools are under-enrolled. Ms. Groom stated that she sought free legal advice on the project from the Legislative Counsel of California through Assemblyman Tony Mendoza. She stated that she “whited-out” his name to protect him from undue pressure from the Board and City Council/Redevelopment Agency. Ms. Groom stated that the exclusion of Assembly Member Mendoza’s name is the only alteration she made to the document. She stated that the Legislative Counsel’s opinion is based on the information that was provided to her by the District and the proposals provided by the City. She stated that the City is establishing a 501(c) to skirt voter approval provided for in Article 34.

Dr. Smuts stated that he has not received any direct information on an overlay project. He stated that Whitney HS enrollment is set by Board policy and Whitney has never been subject to the Schools of Choice policy. Dr. Smuts stated that the portable classroom for Carver ES is a replacement building not an additional building. Dr. Smuts questioned Ms. Groom’s claim of providing accurate information to the Legislative Counsel citing the Legislative Counsel’s document stating the project would guarantee 49 percent occupancy by low income persons versus the City’s April 25, 2007, report (page 8) stating that approximately 57 percent of the units will be designated for moderate income households.

Board Member Chen asked Mr. Contreras to review the proposed development’s amenities. Mr. Contreras reviewed the design for landscaping, security fencing, carports and parking, handicapped access, the pool, and Senior Center. Mrs. Chen stated that it is clear that the complex will be upscale and not a typical low income housing project. She asked how many versions of the City’s proposals have been given to the Board. Dr. Smuts stated that the Board received the first proposal on April 20, 2007, for the April 25 Joint Meeting and a second proposal with minor revisions dated May 1, 2007. Mrs. Chen asked about the deferred maintenance needs for the District Office, Nutrition Services, and warehouse (District Office complex). Dr. Smuts stated that the District Office Complex was not included in the $135 million Modernization Project and the District Office needs about $1 million for a new roof and $200,000 for carpet, Nutrition Services and the warehouse need about $1 million each. Mrs. Chen asked about the lease agreement with the City for the proposed new facility at 183rd Street and Bloomfield Avenue. Dr. Smuts stated that in 2016 the rent would be fixed/capped at the March 2007 rate for the next 40 years. Mrs. Chen stated that the City will build an affordable housing project and she hopes the District will be the recipient of the profit rather than a private developer. She expressed her support for the project.

Board Clerk Dodson stated that she has been in the District Office when it is raining and has seen the various rain catchers set up throughout the buildings. Mrs. Dodson asked if the proposal does not pass, how will the District Office and Nutrition Services be repaired. Dr. Smuts stated that if the District decided on a $3 million repair of Nutrition Services, it would be at the expense of other projects and would be unrealistic.

Board Vice President Pulido stated that the proposal represents a unique and innovative project that has continually evolved in response to public discourse. He stated that he is disappointed that the project is not work force housing as a nexus for District engagement and to provide housing for prospective/young teachers. Mr. Pulido stated that he has educated himself on the issue and studied the proposal; he likes that the District will retain ownership of the land; the project will generate $2.7 million/year which will benefit all ABC students and schools including District facilities; that the $2.7 million is guaranteed by the Cerritos Redevelopment Agency; beginning in 2016 and through the next 40 years the proposed rent schedule will remain constant at $1,027,200/year (a pivotal factor); a non-profit organization will handle the property management, thus the District will not be involved in the business of property management; and that environmentally friendly, energy-saving and cost-saving elements have been incorporated into the construction design of the housing development and the proposed District Office building. He suggested that the same considerations be applied to the Senior Center and the Nutrition Services facilities. Mr. Pulido encouraged the community to study the 168 page proposal and share their input with the Board and City Council/Redevelopment Agency.

Board President Montgomery responded to the allegation that the City/Agency and District are attempting to circumvent a community vote on the proposal. He asked if the City/Agency and the District are doing exactly as the law prescribes and not trying to circumvent the law. Mr. Gallucci stated that the law is clear and the proposal follows Section 37000 of the Health and Safety Code exactly as it was signed into law in 1976. Mr. Ihrke stated that under the implementation law there are several provisions that define the terms of Article 34 and if a developer falls into any one of the provisions, it is not subject to a vote: That is property used exclusively for housing and related facilities for elderly or handicapped families and financed by including but not limited to (sources of funding outlined in the law) and owned and operated by religious, hospital, scientific, or charitable funds, foundations, or corporations meeting all the requirements as set forth in the revenue and taxation code for qualifying as a charitable organization are subject to the exemption provided in Health and Safety Code Section 37001. Mr. Montgomery asked Dr. Smuts to send Assembly Member Mendoza a copy of the proposals dated April 25, 2007, and May 1, 2007, and ask that the Assembly Member request the Legislative Counsel to review the proposals and render a legal opinion based on the proposals. Dr. Smuts agreed to the request.

RECESS AND RECONVENE

The meeting recessed at 9:13 p.m., and reconvened at 9:22 p.m., with all previously noted Council/Agency and Board Members in attendance.

Mrs. Dodson, Clerk of the Board, called on the following speakers to the item.

Bill Raabe, teacher-Whitney HS, stated that he is retiring after 34 years in ABC. He expressed his appreciation to the Board, the District, and the ABC Community. He stated that he has been blessed to work for some great principals, extraordinary administrators, wonderful board members, great colleagues, wonderful students, ABC teachers who are his former students, and parents of the community who have trusted him with their children and supported his classroom with respect and appreciation.

Judith Newkirk, ABC teacher, expressed her disappointment that the property proposal has changed from workforce low income housing to senior housing. She stated that she was anticipating homes for young families and an increase in student enrollment.

Gavin Riley, retired teacher and spokesman for ABCFT, stated that the Union has studied the project exhaustively and strongly supports the property proposal. He stated his objection to the proliferation of misinformation being distributed by some people who oppose the property proposal.

Eugene Gonzales, community member, expressed his support for the change in the project proposal from workforce housing to senior housing. He stated his objection to the scope of the project (too many units, three stories is too high, traffic, and warehouse proximity to a park) and to the park (not necessary for senior housing). He stated his preference to develop only the property’s vacant lot, that primary rental eligibility be given to Cerritos residents, and that the current District Office be repaired instead of moving. He questioned how the project’s revenue will be spent.

Norma Williamson, community member, stated that the energy efficient plans contained in the proposal are only “token” measures and she expressed her support for realistic implementation of energy efficiency measures, conservation, solar electricity and water heating, and reduction of green house gases. She recommended that the District repair its leaky roofs, convert all schools to solar energy, and find another Cerritos location for permanent senior housing.

Leslie Machado, Cerritos resident and representative of Chan-Yong Kim, stated that Grand Master Kim wishes to have his position on the property proposal on record. In consideration of the City/Agency’s housing obligations, the District’s need for additional funding, and the need for senior housing, Grand Master Kim supports the property proposal. He urges the Board and the City/Agency to ensure proper governance of rental eligibility, long term monitoring, security and safety for seniors and residents. To the project opponents, Grand Master Kim states that we live in the greatest democracy on earth which allows us to elect our officials and we must entrust these officials to make decisions that may be in the best interest of the community, even if a decision is not favorable to a minority.

Randy Economy, Cerritos resident, asked if the City/Agency has researched other Cerritos locations for the housing development and if the City/Agency has talked to other agencies; he stated the proposed location for the District Office is not conducive to the community; he suggested Artesia or Hawaiian Gardens for relocation. He stated that the 55-year lease agreement is too long and the $1 million/year rent for a new District Office is unacceptable. He expressed his concern about senior safety in the District Office location and he expressed his support for the proposal to be subject to a community vote.

Paul Carlson, community member, stated that he has not yet received answers to his questions from a previous meeting. He asked why the proposal calls for parking stalls only, when enclosed parking is required for the rest of the City, where will people park to use the Senior Center and park, and if District Office roof repairs were stalled to provide a justification to vacate the present facilities. He objected to the three story plan for the housing development and he stated that future housing development plans would make-up for the present decline in student enrollment.

Juliana Chen, community member, stated her agreement with the previous speakers and that she is opposed to the proposal until she hears more information on details that have been covered-up. She stated that schools should be the District’s first priority.

Sally Havice, former school board member and assembly member, stated that the voters elected Board Members and the City Council but does not entrust them with community decisions if they see the decisions are not in the best interest of the community. She asked the officials to look at the property for the future and realize if they use the land for housing it will not be available for education purposes in the future. Ms. Havice stated that she is the President of the United Home Owners Alliance (UHOA) and she disputed allegations made by a previous speaker about the circulation of misinformation. The UHOA’s website is www.united-hoa.org. She stated the UHOA is not opposed to senior housing or low income housing, they are opposed to the use of school district property without their permission.

Dana Lindsay, ABC teacher, stated that ABC schools need the deferred maintenance money that the housing development will generate and she urged the Board and City Council/Redevelopment Agency to support the proposal.

Benjamin Ao, community member, asked if the real motive behind the proposal is that it is a clever way to use redevelopment set-aside funds and turn them into a property investment so that the District and City/Agency can benefit and at the same time the City/Agency can satisfy the State housing requirement. Mr. Ao stated that if the City/Agency will guarantee only an increase of 661 households and 1520 people by 2035, as stated in the City/Agency’s report, he will support the proposal. He mentioned the overlay project and suggested that all the housing plans be put together for a more accurate student enrollment projection. He stated that Cerritos residents should be given some priority because the housing will be built with public funds from Cerritos taxpayers. He asked how an organization set up by city government and run by elected officials can be a private organization and how the housing can be considered privately owned, as required by the public housing implementation law.

Lili Roney, community member, City of Artesia, stated that she has seen teachers struggle to come up with the funds to provide classroom materials. She stated that the City/Agency has given the District an opportunity to provide better school facilities and better kitchen facilities to provide better lunches, and better facilities are more important than any of the other concerns she has heard tonight. In response to the future student population concern, Ms. Roney stated that California housing is too expensive for most young families, unless they receive substantial financial assistance from their families, they will move to areas or other states where they can afford to live.

David Taylor, community member, recommended repairing the current District Office instead of spending millions of dollars to tear this building down, build housing here, and build a new District Office. He stated that the student enrollment chart on page 10 of the City/Agency’s report is deceiving and appears to him to represent a normal cycle. He stated that it would be financially wiser to build housing somewhere else even if the City/Agency has to buy property.

Jennifer Ho, community member, stated that she lives in Artesia, was a member of the District’s 7-11 Committee, and has been a real estate broker since 1975. She stated that some people are opposed to the development because they do not want a low income project near their home and fear it will make their property value go down but the beautiful project will only improve the area. She expressed her disappointment that the project is not work force housing. She encouraged the community to trust their elected officials to make the best decision for the children and the community.

No one else wishing to present testimony, the public hearing was closed.

Due to the lateness of the hour, President Montgomery asked Dr. Smuts to review the Agenda and advise him of any items on the agenda that could be tabled to the next meeting.

At 10:25 p.m., Mr. Pulido moved, Mr. Reyes seconded to extend the meeting to 11:15 p.m. The motion passed 6-1 (Mrs. Dodson – no).

President Montgomery asked the Board Members and City Council/Redevelopment Agency to make a final round of comments/questions.

Councilman/Member Crawley stated that if the City/Agency has a hidden agenda, he has no idea what it is. He stated that the proposal is to replace the administration building not a school site and that the City/Agency could build the development elsewhere but if it is built elsewhere, it will not bring in $2.7 million/year to the school district.

Councilman/Member Cho stated that when he raised the question about Article 34, he did not mean that this project violates the law, he meant that the issue should be clarified. Dr. Cho stated that affordable housing has been a hot issue throughout the state for more than a half century and there must be similar cases. He asked legal counsel to research the Patitucci case to see if the developing body was a city or public body, and to see if that case or other case studies can help explain this project. He stated that he is not aware of any such case being put on a ballot and he asked legal counsel to provide other case studies to support their legal advice.

Councilman/Member Barrows stated that a question was posed to him about the length of time that school property could be leased. Dr. Smuts read Education Code 17455: The governing board of any school district may sell any real property belonging to the school district or may lease for a term not exceeding 99 years any real property together with any personal property located thereon belonging to the school district which is not or will not be needed by the district for school or classroom buildings at the time of the delivery of title of possession. Mr. Barrows stated that he was happy to hear speakers from Artesia and would like to hear from other cities. He stated that he does not want the development to be for work force housing. Mr. Barrows stated that the City/Agency and the District have been involved in some unique and innovative projects and he hoped that the community’s concerns could be addressed and if approved, the senior housing development will be a project the City/Agency can be proud of.

Mayor Pro Tem/Vice Chair Jim Edwards asked staff to answer two questions from the community: how much money is ABC and the cities of Artesia and Hawaiian Gardens spending and where did the $65 million come from and what can it be used for. Mr. Gallucci responded that the money for the proposed project comes from the Redevelopment Agency set-aside money. Every time a new building is built, the assessed valuation of the City goes up. The difference between the frozen base and the new assessed valuation is called increment and the Redevelopment Agency gets the increment. State law mandates that 20% of the increment be spent annually on housing. The Agency receives $29 million/year in increment and approximately $5.5 million of that increment must go to for housing annually. Currently the Agency has $26,759,969 that cannot be spent on anything but housing except where there exists a cooperative agreement between two agencies for a common goal, for example the three gymnasiums the City/Agency has built for the District, through a joint powers agreement whereby the City uses the gymnasiums when the school district is not using them. Mr. Gallucci stated that the sole reason for building 200 units when the obligation is only 100 units is that 100 units would not provide much income to the District. 100% of the $65 million is from the Redevelopment Agency, no money is being spent by the District or other cities. Mr. Edwards asked Dr. Smuts where the District would get the money for immediate, expensive repairs that exceed deferred maintenance funds. Dr. Smuts responded that in the years that the State does not fund deferred maintenance, expensive, immediate repairs would be paid for out of the general fund that supports students and staff. Mr. Edwards stated that he worked for ABC for more than 30 years, taught more than 3,000 students, coached hundreds of athletes, and ABC is near and dear to his heart. He reviewed the more than 600 petitions from the United Home Owners Alliance, subtracted the petitions signed before January 22, 2007, (when the proposal changed to senior housing) and is calling the signers. Mr. Edwards stated that there are several different petitions but none of them mention that the development is now for seniors. He spoke with a petition signer today who said he had no idea that the proposal was changed to seniors and he signed because the petition said low income rental projects leading to crowded schools and other social problems. He will continue to call petitioners to see why they are opposed and if they are aware that the project is now for seniors. He went on the UHOA’s website and nowhere does it mention that development is for seniors. He stated that last night he sat with Assembly Member Tony Mendoza who told him that he supports the win-win project. Mr. Edwards stated that he is looking at the big picture that will benefit the most residents.

Mayor/Chair Lee expressed her concern about the fixed rental rate for the proposed new District Office and that it might not be in the best interest of the City/Agency. Mr. Gallucci stated that the proposal is only his recommendation and the proposal can still be changed. She objected to the accusation that the City/Agency wants to take over the District. She stated that the City/Agency has a very good relationship with the District, the City/Agency has been very generous to the school district, and children from the other cities have benefited. Mayor Lee encouraged the public to take a copy of the report, read it, and communicate with the Council/Agency/Board. She has listened to the residents, speakers, and the many people who have called her. She has heard from many callers who are not so eloquent or demanding but are eager and happy to have the opportunity to move their parents closer to them and many seniors who live with their children and want a place of their own. Mayor Lee stated that she will look at all of the angles, she has not made her final decision but so far she feels that the Council/Agency and Board are trying to do something good for the City/Agency and the District and she will make a decision that is good for the City/Agency and District.

Board Member Spitzer stated that it has been heartening to listen to Council/Agency Members and their concern to do the right thing. She stated that the Council/Agency and the Board have been elected to act to the best of their ability and do what is best for the community. She has heard from residents who wonder how anyone could be opposed to a project that will benefit the children and staff of the District. Mrs. Spitzer commented on the generosity of the City/Agency and the quality work of their projects. She stated that the three story buildings are necessary to get the density to make the project worthwhile and that the 8’ wall is a perimeter wall and a sound barrier. She stated that the proposal may need tweaking but that the ability to provide the District with an ongoing revenue stream to maintain schools throughout the District cannot be ignored, and to do so would not be acting in the best interest of all ABC residents.

RECESS AND RECONVENE

The meeting recessed at 11:00 p.m., and reconvened at 11:05 p.m., with all previously noted Council/Agency and Board Members in attendance.

Board Member Reyes thanked the community for sharing their views and the City Council/Redevelopment Agency for bringing the proposal to the District when they could have built this project anywhere in the City but saw an opportunity to benefit school children. Responding to Mrs. Havice’s challenge to elected officials to have vision and not let staff do their thinking, he stated that the Board took that challenge when they selected citizens and professionals from throughout the District for the 7-11 Committee. The Committee was given the charge to improve the District, to look at surplus property, and have the vision of educating every ABC student to the highest level possible. The Committee’s report came back that the District is land rich but cash poor. He challenged the opponents to the proposal to bring forward an alternative project that will bring $2 million annually to the District. Mr. Reyes stated that it is his responsibility to represent and vote for every child in the District and provide a quality environment for generations of students to come.

Board Member Groom stated that as a Certified Public Accountant she looks at facts and scientific evaluations. She asked Mr. Nguyen for the District’s operating budget and the reserve. Mr. Nguyen stated that the District’s operating budget is $175 million, with $7 million in unrestricted reserve. Ms. Groom stated that the Board should not chastise community members for their view point. Ms. Groom stated that the 7-11 Committee’s recommendation was made four years ago and the Board is just receiving a resolution to declare the District office property surplus. Ms. Groom asked if this opportunity should be offered for bid to other interested parties. Dr. Smuts stated that when the Board accepted the Committee’s report the Board asked that each property be brought as a separate item to the Board.

Mr. Montgomery asked for a motion to continue the meeting. Mr. Pulido moved, Mrs. Spitzer seconded to continue the meeting until midnight. The motion passed 6-1 (no - Mrs. Dodson).

Ms. Groom asked for the market value of an acre of District Office property. Mr. Gallucci responded approximately $2.5 million/acre. Ms. Groom stated that Assembly Member Mendoza is very supportive of affordable housing and so is she, the only thing she asked him was about the applicability of Article 34 to this project. She stated that she gave the Assembly Member the same documents that have been provided to her.

Board Member Chen stated that the 7-11 Committee recommended the District Office property as underused with great potential, because of its location and size, to generate enough revenue to meet the District’s long term facility needs. Another option is to lease the property to a super store that will bring in more traffic and problems. She stated that this project is so upscale that it will only improve the area. Mrs. Chen stated that if we have funds for facility needs it is good for everyone. She stated that Cerritos Villas, Village Drive, Cerritos Gardens, the apartment complex on Studebaker Road, and other condominium complexes in the City do not have garages, they only have carports. Mrs. Chen stated that she has not made her final decision but based on what she has heard, seen, and studied, this is a golden opportunity for the entire District.

Board Member Dodson stated that the projects at Cerritos, Gahr, and Whitney High Schools were win-win projects, decided upon by the elected officials and not put to a vote. She stated that it is obvious that the District Office has not been a priority and if a choice had to be made between modernizing Nutrition Services and the District Office, the District Office would continue in disrepair. The needs of the schools have prevented the District from repairing the District Office roof. Mrs. Dodson asked how the revenue would change if the District did not lease the building proposed by the City/Agency and leased another facility for the District Office. Dr. Smuts responded that the staff is exploring other opportunities to lease or purchase another property and the revenue would fluctuate if we built new offices, renovated an existing office, or leased a building 

Board Member Pulido stated that he has the greatest confidence in his Board and City Council/Redevelopment Agency colleagues and the highest regard for City/Agency management and staff. He stated that his background is in public policy and he has worked in a city manager’s office and for a redevelopment agency in a large neighboring city and his analysis of this proposal is ongoing and he is open to public discourse, but he is very impressed with the project. He does not see an attempt to skirt the law but as a way to work within the law to achieve the State mandates and serve the community.

Board President Montgomery expressed his appreciation for the evening’s proceedings and for the long history of partnership between the City of Cerritos, Cerritos Redevelopment Agency and ABC and he anticipates that the City Council/Redevelopment Agency will represent the best interest of the City/Agency in their vote and the Board will represent the best interest of the District in their vote.

ADJOURNMENT

The meeting adjourned at 11:40 p.m.

/s/ Josephine Triggs_______
Josephine Triggs, City Clerk

/s/ Art Gallucci_________
Art Gallucci, Redevelopment Secretary

Attest:

/s/ Laura Lee_______
Laura Lee, Mayor/Chair

Approved:  May 24, 2007

 

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