Gramps again here is what the added detail is between the lines of the Candidate's Statement, this time for Bea Cortes. In the PAST they failed to attend PUBLIC OPEN DEBATES so we have to project the facts of the past to their current statements. Put me in Blue Mt. Blue... thanks,
Brian, thank you for giving me ( BEA CORTES ) the opportunity to provide my candidate’s statement. The following are my positions on the issues that affect Grand Terrace: by Bertha Bea Cortes (with extra comments inserted by Grandma).
1. Eminent Domain - is a tool that is usually exercised for a public purpose such as a street or a traffic signal. And this is how we sell the idea of ED land takings to the public, by pretending that streets are not already under the control of the public agencies. It used to be that ED was reserved for acquiring land that will be used for a PUBLIC purpose like roads, school or fire stations. But then big box retailers found that they could partner with cities to develop for them and thereby get cheaper land and occupancy costs by getting the city to cooperate in land assembly for them. This is how we all use the developer as a front. Even though this results in the private enrichment of one citizen or retailer at the expense of Grand Terrace citizen, I think it makes the current Barton land grabs really attractive to the big box retailers we want in town, and are trying so hard to get. The Redevelopment Agency for The City of Grand Terrace currently has eminent domain power only for non-residential zoned properties. So, what the RDA did with the city was to change residentially zoned properties along Barton Road to commercial zoning and also include properties along Michigan where the x-mayor lived. Then when the Corporation for NotBetter Housing wanted to build Section 8 welfare housing near the senior center, the city needed to change the R-1 zoning near Brentwood Street to accommodate 3-story high density apartments for 120 units on 2 acres that could not be built anywhere in town. In the case of the recent attempt to acquire a/many parcels on Barton Road , neither the city or developer really wanted to pay true market value and never offered most owners a clean non-contingent purchase, with a verified closing date. The developer hoped that he could get local folks into escrows that do not close for many months or years and also made the deal contingent upon his getting Lowe’s as the tenant we wanted. We tried to help the developer from taking any risk or carrying costs of owing land and tried to have the local homeowners or the RDA do that for him. This works great because then the RDA gets to play the developer. Further, the City Council chose not to utilize eminent domain after the council voted in the first step of ED, “the Resolution of Necessity” in January because even Later in April when Ferrer made a motion, I didn’t vote for it and she could not get even one councilperson to second to her motion to proceed. Now we like to say we never tried to do ED because we couldn’t get it done; and anyway Tom Schwab says that the developer will be building a project that doesn’t include the parcels that couldn’t be acquired cheaply, quickly & privately. But of course the new plan is private between the city and the developer so the public should not actually see those site plans until we want them to and have already approved them. We know we can believe what Schwab says about the developer because he told the council that the Stater & Lowes “leases were signed” and that Schwab had “seen them” so it must be true.
2. New High School - I believe the new high school in Grand Terrace will be a positive addition to our City. Except in the immediate neighborhood around the high school, where public street parking could be a problem and football games could cause congestion and noise folks will just have to live with. Currently you can go from Kindergarten thru Junior High in the City of Grand Terrace but you leave the community in order to attend high school. I have been working diligently with the school district for some time to develop the third high school here in Grand Terrace. I believe the high school is very much needed as the current two campuses of the Colton Joint Unified School District are terribly overcrowded and a new high school is necessary. Besides, a high school cannot be built in Colton , because of state laws about the earthquake faults there. So maybe I will run for school board too, as the city council will not have as much impact on how the high school turns out, except that I can say I am a part of what happens by state law and school board planning.
3. The Town Center Project - is important to the City of Grand Terrace . Because a Lowe’s could produce $500,000. in sales tax revenue for the city to spend and Stater Bros our only grocery store is currently on a month-to-month lease because they have chosen not to renew their current lease and the uncertainty of the ability for them to stay at their current location is a serious concern. We residents would not want to drive out of town to get groceries, so the RDA should subsidize the land costs for a new developer to steal the tenants out of the current center so we can empty out the center of town and hurt local businesses. The landlord of current Town Center shopping center say they would expand or renew the Stater Bros. lease but we don’t believe them, we think they want the store vacant. The truth is if the RDA can subsidizing the land costs on Barton road, we can make the retail occupancy costs will be lower, to get the new big box stores we want. Although the project is smaller than once planned, I believe that the Barton Road corridor will be improved by building a new store for Stater Bros as well as bring in other businesses that allow people the opportunity to do their shopping in Grand Terrace. Besides, we want to push this through without any traffic study or compliance with the Barton Road Specific Plan or general plan because we want this done now, while I am on the council.
4. Recall - I believe in the process of the recall. It is a tool that is available to any individual resident to exercise. However, I believe in the case of the current attempt to recall two council members is unnecessary and not one valid argument has been made to justify it. Except for the support for ED, the three minute rules, the disrespect shown to the community who comes to speak, the council is perfect, and none of this is as important as being able to have several ladies represent the town folks who usually leave all the planning to the men. However, if the proponents can secure the necessary signatures, it will then be up to the residents of Grand Terrace to decide if these two dedicated council persons should be removed. I don’t think that the citizens of Grand Terrace have the desire to do that; however, I respect the process.
5. “Safe and Sane” Fireworks - and their sale have been an issue recently in the community; as a result, a Citizens Task Force has been organized and will give their recommendations before the City Council. Then we will do what Schwab wants, because I believe that both the Little League and Soccer are dedicated to our youth sports and that fundraising is needed for those groups. Besides, since the city makes the sports teams pay for the lights on the field at night and so to keep the prices of those activities down so that as many individuals can join and participate we only ask the parents and kids to staff the fireworks booth because the sale of fireworks nets over $10,000. for the city, and all the money they raise goes right to the city funds. We think everyone else in town should let the fireworks sale happening, because it’s easy money for the city that we don’t have to worry about. We don't care about the added cost it brings to the city or citizens. We can't use the money unless it is in the "General Fund".
6. Direction of Grand Terrace Development - Grand Terrace has been a very sedate community for most of the years that it has been incorporated. I am working to change all that by being on the council and voting for big projects. Looking at the budget of the City of Grand Terrace, it is evident that in order to maintain the services provided, street repairs, law enforcement, Fire Department, all these things require funding. We've used those funds all up and now are working with RDA debt. This lets us spend more because the RDA gets all the increase in real estate taxes in town, even though it means less money for schools, and the regular city budget is suffers and this is why we need to invite the big box stores into town with lots of sales tax revenues to build up the funds so we can hire more city staff. Later, if there is any money left we might think about roads or underground utilities as was the original RDA plan in 1979. We should not have to live within our means or prioritize all the things that the city wants to do, when we have this RDA cash cow and RDA development to use. The Sheriff’s Department alone takes over a third of the City’s general fund and each year it increases approximately eight percent. This needs to be paid for somehow and the proper way for us to do that is to increase our retail commercial base. One percent of any sales in the City of Grand Terrace comes back to the city for programs within the city. Like RDA houses for city staff. It is only through increasing this source of revenue that we will remain viable in the future as a city. Because so much of our funds go to employee salaries and benefits. Further, the law of supply and demand and private sector development does not work efficiently enough in Grand Terrace, and so the RDA & city needs to get actively involved in residential and commercial development, by choosing what comes to town and where it goes, even if zoning, the general plan or the Barton Road Specific plan need to be changed in the process just for these special projects.
7. Most Qualified Candidate – I believe I am the most qualified candidate for City Council due to my long history of community involvement, business experience and regional leadership. I am concerned about preserving and enhancing our quality of life in Grand Terrace, by adding big box stores and large shopping centers and more development in town. We need active, involved and experienced leadership to attract new big box businesses and build a new high school so we have lots of traffic in town. Smaller communities like Grand Terrace must rely on the quality of their leaders. My long history of community involvement, business experience such as advertising my council position in my business adds and regional leadership taking money from the Building Industry ASSociation will help me to build coalitions with Terra Loma Real Estate and to create a better future for our city as well as enriching me personally. Vote for me.