Jo Stringfield is an Associate Environmental Planner not a Civil Engineer, as she has corrected me.. Please note this correction came from Her. I have corrected the post to reflect her actual title.
MARCH 24, 2006 May be the END of Personal Property Rights In Grand Terrace and the End of hope for a Citizen Friendly Down Town. The City Council and Planning Commission and will consider competing plans for a 20-acre shopping center commonly referred to as TOWN CENTER DEVELOPMENT.
Jacobsen Family Holdings of Woodland Hills's plan includes a Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse, a Stater Bros. and other stores.
The center, which Jacobsen Family Holdings says will cost more than $40 million to build, is expected to bring the city about $600,000 in annual sales-tax revenue, which would pay for expanded law enforcement, fire protection and road repairs.
Jacobsen Family Holdings report there will be more than $40 million invested in the project. The city expects revenue from Sales Tax of $ 600,000. Citizens Expect: Traffic, Day Workers Urinating, Consuming alcohol, and possibly inadvertently or purposely becoming a nuisance and risk to the school children who attend the school directly across from the proposed Lowes.
Jo Stringfield a long term Grand Terrace Resident who is being forced to develope her property or lose its value, has proposed a similar project with a Lowe's, Best Buy, an office-supply store, a pet store and other businesses. She would rather not build a Lowes however her plan includes it as the City Manager seems transfixed on the potential retail revenue.
Fearing City Staffs influence upon the Council and Planning commission she has included Lowes instead of a more pedestrian friendly City Center / Pedestrian Friendly Plan which included Multi Use or Mixed Use Construction now popular in many small towns and cities. Mixed Use Construction reduces crime, and does not attract the Day Worker Problem or Pollution Risk that a Lowes brings to every community it is located in.
Jo Stringfield's plan places the new Library on Barton Road prominently in front of The Terrace Assisted Living Development. Locating this service near a population which would benefit from the location along a bus line. Jo Stringfield's plan allows the current location of Stater Brothers to retrofit for an expanded Stater Brothers Market, and bringing additional retail and office opportunities to the community. This avoids the problem of a large space being vacant in the center of town.
Jacobsen Family Holdings has built the Sav-On drug store scheduled to open next month on Barton and Mount Vernon. That construction is not as he showed the Public at the Public Meetings Held for its Approval. Only a portion of the building was built making the scale of the design as built awkward and extremely boxy. Sav-On is now "restructuring", and the Building and its alleged lease is for sale at a price of $6,000.000. It is Listed in San Francisco not Southern California. GT could face an empty building there for years. Kmart anyone?
Jacobsen Family Holdings has also built 40 other retail project in California, looking at the corporate web page they all look like the Savon with adjustments made for lot size. The design is not in conformity with the Specific Plan, or the Design Requirements in the Specific Plan or General Plan. Stores look like Boxes, and Parking Lots, not a Town Center, or City Center with Pedestrian Friendly Buildings built to enhance Local Citizens enjoyment of the City they live in, rather just Strip Malls on Steroids to attract traffic from freeways, and busy cross roads.
Many of the Developments Jacobsen Family Holdings have done involve the use of the local Redevelopment Agency Process. This includes at times the use of Redevelopment Bonds not made readily available to other private citizen developers.
Jacobsen Family Holdings signed an agreement with the city last year to build the shopping center, this opportunity was not given to any competitive design opportunity or competitive proposal process. They have obtained Ownership and or Option to Buy 12 of the 14 lots needed for the development. An Option to buy the land from a private individual will run out when the deal fails, or Jacobsen Family Holdings finds it not in their interest to proceed. An Option to buy land also has a time limitation. An Option to buy a piece of land is also at times a transferable item and the land owners may find that Jo Stringfield has found the financial backing to pick up those options and pay for the land previously acquired by Jacobsen Family Holdings use of the RDA's threats of eminent Domain to promote their Development. The City Redevelopment Agency Owns several of the lots included in the 12 "Owned or Under Control" and of course they would transfer to who ever is selected to develop the lots in part of in full.
The City Council should know that some of the payments for the Options, and Purchases or Escrow Payments have been made late by Jacobsen Family Holdings so their liquidity and ability to finance the entire development may be an issue to be considered.
Jo Stringfield has the ability, as a landowner on the site, to submit her own proposal. Jo Stringfield has been forced to develop or lose her full enjoyment of her property has taken her years of Civil engineering Experience, City Citizenship, and strong belief in Property Rights of Individuals she has accepted that her best option is to develop the land in a more community friendly way.
Jacobsen Family Holdings, owns only some of the property of the development, has options to buy some of the property, and others the City Redevelopment Agency Owns and has apparently agreed to Sell them to Jacobsen with out giving the option or opportunity to any other developer. If the Stringfield plan is accepted, then the City RDA would sell the property it owns to Stringfield, and Jacobsen would either be relieved from the option to buy the property he has negotiated for, and sell the ones he owns or face the eminent Domain on his property just as Jo has for the past 2 years.
Jo's Plan does not include the encroachment into the land on Michigan which would disrupt the residential mixed use historical use of that area of Grand Terrace. Jacobsen's Plans (Now more than 40 on this project alone,) have grown, and grown, like a cancer. Jacobsen Family Holdings has bought or has an option to buy the home and land of a Former GT Mayor who actively promotes Jacobsen Family Holdings position and interests in front of the City Council.
"One of the biggest questions is how does she intend to acquire the other properties necessary for the project?" Schwab said as quoted in the Sun Telegram. ...... Jo Stringfield will not use eminent Domain to acquire the property that is one thing for sure.
Jo Stringfield is being forced to demonstrate ability to develop or the funding plan of her development. Odd thing for City Manager, Redevelopment Agency Director: Tom Schwab to require this when he can't answer how the city is going to fund its budget, when asked at a City Council Meeting.
Jacobsen Family Holdings say they have long-term lease agreements with Lowe's and Stater Bros, yet the specifics of these agreements have not been made public and may be only Memorandums of UNDERSTANDINGS not a signed Transferable Lease. A Firm Lease Agreement in some cases can be transferred as in the case of the Sav-On Store.
Jacobsen Family Holdings allege that Jo Stringfield's Plan is a pirated version their plan. Jo Stringfield being an Associate Environmental Planner and is perfectly capable of putting together line drawings being presented. This accusation by Jacobsen Family Holdings is an act of desperation to slander Jo Stringfield and gain a poor old me the abused position in the negotiation and presentation process.
Stringfield Development Co. Is a new company owned and operated by a Woman, who lived most of her life in this community. She is a land owner in the proposed development area. She has a right to try. Those are the protections afforded in the redevelopment Laws, and the Rights of Citizens in the USA. She can unite together investors, store lease contracts, and all the same tasks Jacobsen Family Holdings can do, if given the same opportunity and support of the City and the RDA that Jacobsen Family Holdings has been given.
Mayor Maryetta Ferre said she will choose the project that is "most financially sound."
When considering the Soundness of the Finances of either plan one would hope the City Council would accept a development of a more citizen friendly development, and developer. In addition to who can fund the building process the cost to the city for streets, lights, law enforcement, and dealing with Day Workers should be assessed when considering either plan.
Lowes should not be an option. Let them go use the Kmart down the hill. The traffic, pollution and Day Workers is not something we can afford even if the taxes are earned at 600,000. 00 per year rate. That won't pay for enough law enforcement, not to mention any other additional costs to the city. An empty field waiting for a Trader Joe's or a relocated Cal Skate /Youth Center may be a better option for the space identified in both plans as LOWES.
"I know the (Jacobsen) project is very viable," Ferre said. "He has had experience. He has financial backing. He owns quite a bit of property. He is building a Sav-On. I don't know that with (Stringfield). I'm never going to go with something I have questions about." ...... But she wants to give Stringfield a chance to make her case to the council (Sun Telegram Article Quote)
Apparently Mayor Ferre has already made up her mind. Isn't this the very reason that the Council can't talk during the Public Comment Section of a Meeting. They aren't supposed to make up their minds before all public comments are made, and a public meeting is held and all evidence is before them?
"I'm willing to listen to what she has to say," Ferre said. "The most important thing is for all parties involved to have an opportunity to present their side. That's what we're giving them." ........ (ibid)
The Mayors statement reads like, sure we'll give them a hearing but the decision has already been made. Mayor Ferre should have to removed herself from voting on this decision. Council Member Bea Cortez should also removed herself from this deal, as much of the entangled in negotiations have gone through Terra Loma Realty her employer. A former Planning commissioner Bidney is also employed in the same Terra Loma Realty Office. This entanglement demonstrates the incestuous nature of the actions by the Redevelopment Agency and the City Council in all its decision making.
Councilman Jim Miller also wants to make sure Stringfield's project is financially viable....."We have a pretty good idea about Jacobsen," Miller said. "His track record is pretty good. Right now, we don't know about Jo Stringfield. We haven't seen anything from her yet." ..... (ibid)
Council Member Millers statement indicate a predetermined bias for the known factor hand picked by City Manager, Redevelopment Agency Director TOM SCHWAB. The real question should be who has the RIGHT TO TRY IN GT. Is it only an outsider who has used the RDA process to build box shopping mega strip malls or a local woman taking her first entry into the development arena. Justice and Fairness in addition to Personal Property rights will be on trial at the Council Meeting.
Jo Stringfield, whose property includes a home that has been in her family more than 50 years, has criticized the city for attempting to take her property for the Jacobsen project using eminent domain.
The council, acting as the Redevelopment Agency board, took the first step toward eminent domain in January when it approved offering Stringfield the appraised value of $760,000 for her property. Jo Stringfield refused an offer in February of 1.01 Million.
Jo Stringfield has always rejected any idea that her house and land were for sale at any price. She wants to remain on the property or develop it and enjoy the benefits of property ownership and the value of the land her parents and family have owned for decades. An offer of 1.01 million was not sufficient to remove her from her attachment to the community and the house and land her parents gave her.
If the council chooses Jacobsen's project and Stringfield refuses to sell her property, Jacobsen could build a scaled-down project that would leave out Stringfield's land and exclude Lowe's. ....... (ibid)
This may be the best option at this time. Jo Stringfield could acquire the RDA owned land and develop that portion. LOWES would not be a burden on our community.
However, if the council isn't willing to accept a smaller project, Schwab said it would likely pursue further eminent-domain action against Jo Stringfield at its April 13 meeting in order to acquire the full 20 acres for Jacobsen's development. (ibid)
This threat to use Eminent Domain is unexceptable to many citizens in Grand Terrace. However, the City and the Redevelopment Agency continues this line of threat against its citizens.
If the City continues to move down the path to violate its own Specific Plan and General Plan, it will be looking forward to a significant risk of being tangled in more law suits. Lowes is a Polluter, will significantly increase traffic, and all the other problems mentioned. The Jacobsen Family Holding Plan is not in conformity to the General Plan or the Specific Plan already agreed upon by the city. These plans are binding obligations for the use, and design of the development to be placed in that area.
In addition, any plan should be requreid to fit after the 215 /Barton Road Interchange has been drawn out. The Caltrans Plan will super impose on any Specific Plan, or General Plan or Developers Plan. Obligations to relocate businesses are included in their requirements. Many of the displaced businesses will need a new home in Grand Terrace. The Road Plan is a Problem to resolve long before a new sidewalk or curb is put in on Barton Rd, or Michigan. There is a bigger picture needed here, in addition to looking at the little land owner, and developer relationships.
(Sun Telegram, Ibid)