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Monday, July 24, 2006

Pay-To-Play 2006? Twenty Cents Per Square Foot

The City Council has posted a "supplemental agenda" for Tuesday on "items for which public hearings have not been held."

Item No. 52 thereon is a motion by Reyes, Cardenas and Garcetti to rent some of YOUR land to Mr. Onnik A. Mehrabian for just TWENTY CENTS PER SQUARE FOOT!

That's right: these taxpayer advocates want to rent 48,608 square feet of YOUR land to Mr. Mehrabian for 20 cents per square foot -- a total of $9721.60 per month. He apparently wants to park some cars on it.

Oh, and I'm sure it was just a series of innocent typos, but good luck to you, Joe Public, figuring out where the property is from the agenda. The address is given as "2110-30 West San Fernando Road (APN’s 5457-00 1 and 902)." However, there is no such address, and no such APN. Rather, the actual address is "2110 North San Fernando Road," and the APN is "5457-001-901." The land, as you can see from Google Maps, complete with a satellite photo, is near the intersection of the Glendale Freeway and the Golden State Freeway.

Excuse me for asking, but is this the highest and best use of City land -- to rent it out at 20 cents per square foot? Also, is this the best method for managing property -- having three City Councilmen strike a deal, rather than, say, having some agency seek the highest bidder to buy it?

Oh, and by the way, Peter Mehrabian, listed at the City Ethics Commission's website as the owner of Auto Mart, in Glendale, contributed $500 to Cardenas' campaign.

The Commission's website also shows that "Peter Mehrabian Auto Mart" donated $500 to Reyes's campaign. Onnik Mehribian donated $500. And Peter Mehribian, as an individual, donated $500.

But I am confident that these financial contributions in no way influenced three City Councilmen to lease your land for just 20 cents per square feet. It's totally a coincidence.

And while we're on the subject of vacant land, weren't there some people just fighting about vacant land? Something about a farm? Do you think you could get people to pay 20 cents per square foot per month to farm on this plot? That would be just $20 for 100 square feet....

And get this: the Reyes-Cardenas-Garcetti deal isn't the only proposed real estate transaction in play on Tuesday.

Item 49 on the regular agenda is a motion by City Councilmen Labonge and Garcetti to buy a luxury house, currently on the tax roles for $3.895 million based on a sale in 2005. The address is 2450 North Solar Drive, Los Angeles, 90046 (APN 5571-032-005). The house covers 7686 square feet; the lot covers 17 acres. Hey, maybe that would make a nice farm! Or maybe "affordable housing" for some lucky family.

It gets worse. The Councilmen want to pay for $2.5 million through a bond -- which means they'll use the City's equivalent of the big credit card, and you and I will pay the interest.

Will somebody out there PLEASE run for City Council in the upcoming March 2007 elections? Half the seats -- those for the even-numbered districts -- are up for grabs.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said:

one more good reason to leave term limits in place.

July 25, 2006 7:59 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Oh Wacko, where art thou? Deliver us from the 4th floor's evil wrath! Plese, please, please do run for office again!

July 25, 2006 9:19 AM  

Blogger ubrayj02 said:

Walter Moore,

Thanks for putting this information online. I'm surprised that no one at any of our local papers writes stories about stuff like this. Keep up the muckraking. Not enough of us follow the details of all this CIty Council business.

July 25, 2006 10:54 AM  

Blogger Walter Moore said:

You're welcome, and you're right: where the $%^& is the local media?

I didn't go looking for this stuff. I just happened to sign up the other night to get the Council's agenda, and this stuff jumped off the page at me. Imagine what someone who's supposed to do this for a living would find.

Our local media -- except for Doug McIntyre, of course -- does nothing more than read press releases from career politicians.

July 25, 2006 12:47 PM  

Blogger Walter Moore said:

Correction: "our local media" -- plural "DO nothing. . . ." rather than "DOES nothing."

July 25, 2006 12:48 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

You guys are a bunch of morons. Mehrabian owns property off San Fernando road that the city wants to expand the recreation space at the new park being built at the old Taylor Yards. 3 or 4 soccer fields, baseball field, softball field and basketball courts, in a badly needed densely populated urban area. Some of these plans run up right next to Mehrabian's car dealership - the #1 Kia delaership in the country. The city has to give him a sweet deal to get that property. And Mehrabian is no stupid businessman. If he has to move, he's going to get the best price. This isn't Meruelo we are talking about - he's holding out for his 5 million dollar profit for land adjacent to Mehrabian's that would have been Glassel Park High School.

July 25, 2006 1:24 PM  

Blogger Walter Moore said:

Nice try, but if that were the case, the City could have and should have negotiated a written contract to that effect. As matters stand now, these Council Members are giving away a valuable public asset without competitive bidding.

Or perhaps you think it's a wise business practice to give away something below cost in hopes that the recipients will, out of the goodness of their hearts, repay the favor? If that's what you think, you obviously have spent your "working life" entirely in the public sector.

July 25, 2006 1:47 PM  

Blogger Walter Moore said:

P.S. The City has a ready remedy when it wants land for a public purpose and the landowner demands an above-market price: eminent domain.

So you REALLY need to go back to the political playbook to try to fabricate an "innocent explanation" for this boondoggle.

July 25, 2006 1:50 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Ok, the 20 cent deal is a little strange. But why don't you google the solar drive property. It's adjacent to Runyon Canyon Park. The property would be incorporated into Runyon, a regional park, and ensure that the 17 acres, adjacent to this amazing urban park, do not get subdivided into a bunch of ugly stucco mcmansions. GO TOM and ERIC!

July 27, 2006 4:50 PM  

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