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CP&DR News Briefs, August 10, 2015: Ontario to Take Control of Airport; Oakland Coliseum For Sale?; Bakersfield Considers HSR Routes; and More

Matthew Hose on
Aug 10, 2015

A deal between the cities of Los Angeles and Ontario ends a dispute over the decline of LA/Ontario International Airport. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Ontario Mayor pro tem Alan Wapner announced the signing of a Settlement Agreement Term Sheet which will lead to the transfer of ownership of ONT to the Ontario International Airport Authority subject to approvals. The City of Ontario will pay Los Angeles World Airports $190 million over 10 years and will assume all debts of the struggling airport. ONT has been drawing only around 4.5 million annual passengers as compared to its capacity of 10 million. In a joint statement issued at a news conference at ONT, Garcetti and Wapner said the Settlement Term Sheet adheres to the premise that Los Angeles and Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) will be reimbursed to the extent needed to make them whole regarding investments they have made in ONT, while providing job protection to the airport's current employees. Along form settlement agreement consistent with the initial term sheet will be prepared within 60-days.  A formal approval process is expected to begin in October 2015, with the entire process, including FAA approval, expected to be completed within one year. Ontario has long claimed that local control will enable it to promote more flights and make the airport a greater economic force in the Inland Empire. 

Alameda County Explores Sale of Stadium Complex

Public officials in Alameda County have expressed interest in selling to the City of Oakland their stake of the Coliseum complex, which houses three professional sports teams and is estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Citing a yearly loss of money along with confusing negotiations to keep the three teams in the East Bay, County Supervisor Nate Miley said that it has been too difficult to negotiate a deal with the city, the county, three sports teams, and other entities. "So let's just get out of this and let the city negotiate whatever deals it wants," Miley told S.F. Gate. "Because, frankly, Oakland is going to benefit much more from this than the county." One major issue going forward will be how the city and county work out the $11 million of yearly debt that they have carried since the Coliseum was overhauled in the mid-1990s to lure back the Raiders from Los Angeles.

Fresno Sales Tax Could Fund HSR Facility; Bakersfield Explores New Route

The Fresno County Council of Governments informally gave the green light for $750,000 from a Measure C transportation sales tax to buy a site that could be used as an industrial maintenance facility for the high-speed rail, producing 1,500 jobs for the region. The move comes as Fresno sees potential competition from Kern County, which also had been working on proposals to build a maintenance facility. The Fresno COG years ago approved $25 million in money from Measure C for the rail authority on the condition that it selected the Fresno site over any other competing sites. 

In Bakersfield the HSRA has presented an alternative, shorter alignment that would affect fewer properties and cost taxpayers less money than the original proposal. The city agreed to drop its lawsuit against the California High-Speed Rail Authority in exchange for an agreement to coordinate with city officials on a new route besides the older, hybrid route that would impact 526 structures, including 231 residences. However, Shafter City Manager Scott Hurlbert said he is concerned the alternative alignment would hurt the city's bid for a maintenance facility that would serve the rail project and give the region 1,500 jobs.

San Diego Bikeshare Posts Disappointing Numbers

San Diego community leaders are raising concerns about the city's new bike-share program as an underwhelming number of people have used the service and as community leaders complain that the owners have cherry-picked bike stations to raking in tourist dollars rather than to create a viable commuter network. Critics say DecoBike, the company that operates the program, has felt pressure to generate revenue because, unlike virtually all of the other 800 cities across the globe with bike-sharing networks, San Diego chose not to subsidize its program. "The city and DecoBike haven't really been that public with where they intend to place the bike stations, what the process is and what the timeline is," Gretchen Newsom, president of the Ocean Beach Town Council, told the L.A. Times. Decobike, the company that operates the program, nevertheless said that revenue so far has been on par with industry standards, and that momentum will continue to build as the company increases the number of stations from the current 85 to a planned 180.

Tensions Rise on Monterey Planning Commission

Planning commissioners in Monterey made pleas to stay on the city's Council-appointed commission following an email from Mayor Clyde Roberson hinting that two of the members should step down from their posts after their terms end. Roberson and Vice Mayor Alan Haffa sent emails to two commissioners, David Stocker in his ninth term, and Paul Davis in his seventh term, telling them that they felt "eight consecutive years on the Planning Commission is a good number," according to the Monterey Herald. Believing this email to be a call to step down, Davis said that he would like to continue on in the role, citing long-term planning projects in the works. Other commissioners who have been on the Planning Commission for as long as Davis and Stocker did not receive similar emails from the mayor, though the council could replace any of them at its discretion.

Court Rules in Favor of Desalination Plant 

A Superior Court judge ruled against conservation group San Diego Coastkeeper in a suit in which Coastkeeper said that the San Diego County Water Authority's climate action plan and supplemental environmental report did not focus enough on conservation or sufficiently account for environmental impacts. Specifically, the group targeted the development of the Carlsbad Desalination Plant, set to open in November and currently being developed by Poseidon Water, a private company. Judge Gregory Pollack ruled that "substantial evidence exists to support (the agency's) actions" on each of the issues in dispute, including a proposed desalination plant on Camp Pendleton.

Apple to Push into San Jose

Apple, Inc bought a 40-acre parcel of land in North San Jose, shelling out $138.2 million in cash to Connecticut-based Five Mile Capital Partners for land that it could develop into an office and research campus that could fit up to 15,000-workers, according to public records. The move is just one of Apple's major land-grabs in recent years, as it leased 318,000 square feet of space in Santa Clara along with a 290,000-square-foot building adjacent to the new 40-acre parcel, and as it constructs a new headquarters in Cupertino. "It's mind-boggling what Apple is doing," Terry Bell, a senior vice president with Colliers International, told the Contra Costa Times. "Nothing surprises me any more with Apple's growth. It's tough to get your arms around the scope of Apple's appetite to expand."

Disney Land Purchases May Herald Expansion of Resort

Walt Disney Co. stirred up speculation of an expansion as it recently bought three large parcels of land totaling about 14.7 acres near its Anaheim resort. Records show that the Walt Disney Co. bought the Carousel Inn and Suites in March, and last year the company purchased two large office buildings, all in Anaheim with a total value of about $60 million. The move comes as Disney officials committed to the city of Anaheim that they will invest at least $1 billion in the park by 2024 under an agreement that ensures the city will not impose an entertainment tax on the resort for the next 30 years. Following the acquisition, speculation stirred that Disney was planning to free up land on the properties for a future park expansion involving Disney's Star Wars or Marvel superhero characters, to which Disney bought rights in 2009 and in 2012, respectively.

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