Oakland News blog update as I work on a new set of Oakland videos including what is a controversial election recap with Alameda City Manager and friend John Russo. No word on the controversy – you’ll have to wait for the video which will be out before the end of this week. Now, let’s turn to the Oakland Army Base.
On November 20th, Gene Hazzard, Oakland Photographer, activist, and friend, filled me in on his almost Captain Ahabish effort to reform the White Whale called The Oakland Army Base Project. The bottom line is that Gene angrily asserts that California Capital Investment Group head (and friend) Phil Tagami has not “put a dime of his own money” into the Army Base project, and that he’s “sucking the public tit” – I disagree with Gene, but it would be unfair to not report his point of view. Especially after Gene told me he doesn’t have an issue with Phil himself, just the project.
This has caused Gene to file a civil lawsuit against the CCI / ProLogis development team. It was kicked back to him on November 17th because of a civil procedure problem, but Gene notes – and more detail’s below – that the court did not throw out his case entirely.
But the bottom line is that anyone who thinks you are supposed to take on a vast project like the Oakland Army Base without using money from various sources has zero experience in real estate development – that would be Gene. But enough me; here’s the “Gene notes” from our phone conversation, which I would have preferred as video, but I was out of town, and he doesn’t have Skype. Thus, rather than translate my email notes, I present them as they were written at the time:
Gives another bite at the Apple. Court said it has to be in a format that it should be in. Chance is that he has a valid claim – but it has to be in a valid format. He has 20-days to 30-days to do that. City and Phil gets to respond again – Gene could not ask for better outcome. His issue is this: if the city stays with Phil Tagami as a master developer for the Oakland Army Base Project, the city faces a huge financial risk. Army base calls for pub / priv partnership, but Gene says he has failed to provide that.
Gene says there is an agenda report financial capability analysis, but only on Prologis, and not on Phil T (CCI) – why is Prologis not controlling 85 percent of the project? Prologis is only financing the vertical part of the project – the buildings, and not the horizontal – the public improvement part. Gene says it’s in documents. They have yet to identify a guaurantor – make reference to it, but that’s it. If they have a guarantor they need a name. The guarantor guarantees that the project will be completed. He asked CCI / Phil, for a public records request, but they referred back to the documents – that say they would identify the entity.
Another problem Gene points to – Measure B1 failed, the Alameda County Transit measure. That was significant to the project. The defendants were to receive $271 Million from Alameda County – separate from the State Funds. That’s very problematic – they needed that.
So Gene says ask yourself, where are they going to get the money? They were using public funds to shield to mask that they didn’t have any private investment at all. Phil T was to pick up some of the CEQA report cost to make. That is required in the Economic Development Conveyance. What the City has done – they did it this way. The City obligation – that capped out at $242,000. At the time, the report was going to cost $300,000 or north. Phil was to reemburse the City for that by $120,000.
Gene says “I don’t have a huge problem with that, IF he did, but he did not do so.” Gene says a public records request indicated that Phil did not – they did not give a yes or no answer to the question. Most of the information I say, is based on a public records request.
Gene says that Phil still owes $178,000 related to the Fox Theater – to the City. That’s almost – he owes more on the environmental cost – the amount is not that, but $503,000. The city amount capped out at $240,000. Phil is responsible for paying the City back the difference in a timely fashion and is doing do on two projects.
Gene claims the performance audit report is real clear – all of the overages occur when they went beyond the Turner went beyond that in the Fox Theater, and can be presumed with respect to the Army base because the same people are involved. The City needs to put the policies in place to make sure that the same problems don’t happen to the Army Base, that happened to the Fox. The Fox Theater Performance Audit was called for by Gene Hazzard. That became the bible for the Army Base.
Other mistakes Gene points to: multiple roles by Phil Tagami on Army base – Agency Rep, and Proj Manager, and Master Developer. How? It’s wrong because its like the Fox guarding the chicken house. It should be – the Performance Audit report says that should not be. Because he signed off on all change orders – he gets paid 4 cents on the change order dollar. So how he can protect city? What it should be? An independent body should control signing off on the change orders, Hazzard says “I don’t know what it should be, but I know what it should not be.” He says he’s quoting the Performance Audit on the Fox Theater. Phil was the fee developer on the Fox, not the Master Developer – in the case of the Army Base, he’s the Master Developer and the project manager.
Next steps: “It would be similar to, I get another bite to cure those things court says you have to do: format. Defendent says you don’t have a cause of action, etc. Civil Procedure issue. I have to assume that the court saw that this was not frivolous. Already knew what he had, but wrote a trial brief. It’s all about format, he says.
When I chatted with Phil online, he provided this response to the issue of public v private money, and it was written by him, not me:
It is fair to say I am not looking to comment on a matter that is still in the legal process. But I can say that third party review was done of the financial capacity and commitment of each and all of the parties in the various agreements to a commericial investment grade standard. This of course makes no mention of all of the pursuit costs from 5 years of pre-development, entitlement, and grant work. Yes all of the TCIF and TIGER grants were paid for by CCIG and the city. The CCIG spend prior to execution excluding staff costs for five years and legal costs is over $2m add prologis spend and you are at $3.2m add the two rfq rfp with the Port and you are at $4.+ …I hope that is a reasonable answer to your question. This city has spent about $6m to date.
As I told Phil, Gene’s issue is not my fight at all. There may be thorny details that have to be worked out between the City Of Oakland and the developers, but that should not mean an end to a much needed project. I personally don’t like it when some Oaklanders do nothing but try to destroy that which other Oaklanders create, and for reasons I don’t understand (that’s another blog post). But I can say that ethic is fading.
That said, Gene has to be given props for at least keeping all parties on their toes.
Katt Williams Video Shows Artist Going Off
Comedian Micah “Katt” Williams, who was just arrested in Seattle about seven hours ago, went totally off during his appearance, er aborted one, at Oracle Arena. But given his behavior since then, it’s totally clear he’s gone off the deep end for some reason. In Sacramento he fled police who were chasing him for driving a three-wheeled Can Am racing bike on the sidewalk near the state capitol building. It was as if he wanted cops to go after him for something, and while they didn’t catch him there, in Seattle Katt got nailed after getting into a bar fight.
Something with him has totally snapped. Katt was at a place called The World Sports Grille in Seattle , when he got into an argument with a patron, brandished a pool cue, and then chased a family out of the facility and to their car, flipping a cigarette at a woman as she got in it.
This video, not by me, shows what happened on November 16th.
Well, now he can give folk in jail a hard time.
Adams Point Crimes
While Oakland Police reported that four were arrested in connection with robberies where phones were taken in the Adams Point area (next to Lake Merritt), they don’t appear to be the same people responsible for this:
Our 40 unit condo assoc. also had an attempted break in into a laundry room a month ago. The perps did not gain entry but damaged the door lock and brass plate which we had replaced. I recently saw the change collector for the laundry service and he said that the newer machines now have a lock that makes it more difficult to break into the machine. I suggest when appropriate, you contact you service company, make sure you are up to date with your contract. For example, our contract was for a renewal every seven years and we were going on thirteen years before we had the newer machines with key locks needed to collect the coins installed.
Bottom line, the now-well-income-mixed Oakland Adams Point has become more of a haven for robbers than ever. Best thing to do: KNOW YOUR NEIGHBOR. Talk to everyone you walk by on the street – say hello so we all know each other. If that reads silly to you, then you’re part of the problem.
Loring Is Open Now
I believe Loring, the place with the crazy interior between Webster and Broadway on Grand is open now. Here’s my video from about two months ago:
Stay tuned. Stay dry.