Council Votes 7-0 (Austin Absent, Gonzalez Present Earlier But Absent On Vote) To Destroy Decades Of City Records; LBREPORT.com Public Records Act Request For Them Prevents Their Immediate Destruction
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(Jan. 9, 2019, 9:30 a.m.) -- As carried LIVE on LBREPORT.com and reported in summary form on our front page and Facebook platform, on January 8, 2019 the City Council voted 7-0 (Austin absent, Gonzalez present earlier but absent on vote via teleconference from Sacramento) to approve destruction of City records (all prior to 2012, some dating back to 1989) of the Departments of Financial Management and Economic Development and as well as City Council offices in districts 2, 4 and 5 BUT -- because the City received Public Record requests to either inspect or receive an index of records slated for destruction, City Attorney Parkin asked to amend the motion "to authorize the City to destroy these records once we have completed and complied with the public records requests that are currently pending at the City."
On Jan. 4, LBREPORT.com made a Public Records Act request to inspect and receive copies as we may designate of the records slated for destruction. Former 5th district Councilman (2006-2014) separately requested an index of records from the 5th dist. office approved for destruction (2006-2010.)
Destruction of the records wasn't required by state law. The Jan. 8 agendizing memos provided no reason(s) for the records destruction, simply reciting that "Pursuant to Section 34090 of the California Government Code and Chapter 1.28 of the Long Beach Municipal Code, records destruction for City Manager departments and elected officials must be submitted to the City Council for approval. The records destruction must comply with each department's records retention schedule." In other words, a Council majority could have voted "yes" or "no" and chose to vote "yes." Mayor Garcia presided on the vote.
The records represent a treasure trove of Long Beach history -- past actions with present day consequences -- encompassing decades of City Hall's development decisions, policy actions, taxpayer impacts and controversies. LBREPORT.com was first (again) to report and detail the proposed records destruction.
The agendizing memos didn't provide a detailed index of the documents, instead describing categories of documents, sometimes in near-useless vague terms, but based on the time periods involved, LBREPORT.com believes the records proposed for destruction could include the following (not a complete list):
Documents reflecting multiple property sales at less than fair market value or less than the highest received bids for reasons described in Council agendizing memoranda mainly in vague or conclusory terms;
May 2016 agreement to convey the former Jergins Trust site (SE corner Ocean/Pine) to a developer/operator for an envisioned high rise luxury hotel accompanied by an agreement to give the developer/operator half of LB's hotel room tax for 20 years based on consultant-provided figures (LBREPORT.com coverage here.) [The sales tax agreement was subsequently amended Dec. 2017 to provide 80% over nine years, LBREPORT.com coverage here]
Sale of the former American Hotel site (224 E. Broadway) to a buyer for creative adaptive reuse at zero cost citing market value diminished by significant seismic upgrade requirements,
Acquisition of Atlantic/Artesia properties costing RDA over $7 million that the City agreed in 2016 to sell to a developer for $2.1 million. [In late 2018, the Council voted to reduce the price by $1 million citing what the city staff called the inclusion of additional public benefits, LBREPORT.com coverage here and (with audio) here)
>Preparation in 2016 and prior years for Jan. 2017 Council-approved sale of former RDA property (west side of Atlantic Ave. at 61st St.) for roughly $655,000 that city staff acknowledged had a fair market value of $1.2 million as determined by broker opinion of value. (LBREPORT.com coverage here.
LB RDA's 2009/2010 role in facilitating payment of Aquarium debt bonds (using part of LB's North Redevelopment Project Area, LBREPORT.com 2009 coverage here
LB RDA's role in enabling the Civic Center transaction by letting the state to take Redevelopment land for a new courthouse while the city took the old courthouse site. The Civic Center transaction, approved by the Council 9-0 in mid-December 2015, commits LB taxpayers to pay a private firm to finance, build, operate and maintain LB's Civic Center for 40+ years for which LB taxpayers will pay annual escalating sums increased each year per CPI. The Council approved the project without seeking bids for a seismic retrofit of LB's less than 40 year old City Hall.
"Financial Management / Grants Accounting"
Downtown Project CIP Files (1994-95)
West Long Beach Industrial Project CIP Files (1996-98)
Rehab Loans Reclassification (1993-94)
West Beach Project Files (1992-93)
Los Altos Project CIP Files (1995-97)
West Beach Project Files (1995-97)
Long Beach UASI Grant
Long Beach UASI Grant (2004)
Files likely include significant materials documenting actions that (literally) changed the face of downtown Long Beach.,
The "Downtown Project CIP [Capital Improvement Project] Files" presumably pertain to the purple area on the map above and date back to the transition between Mayor Kell and Mayor O'Neill and their respective Councils. Actions during this period paved the way for the Long Beach Aquarium and the "Queensway Bay retail and entertainment complex" (later rebranded "The Pike at Rainbow Harbor" and then rebranded the "Outlets at the Pike.") The area north of Ocean Blvd. was (during the document period) the LB Plaza (demolished in 2000 except for its parking structure) rebuilt into Long Beach City Place, more recently renamed/reconfigured into "The Streets" shopping area.
The "West Beach Project Files" (small dark brown strip south of Ocean Blvd. on map) date back to Mayor Ernie Kell and his respective Council and presumably pertain to the West Beach Redevelopment Project area, adopted in July 1964, that changed LB's former SW shoreline and enabled development of six new office buildings.
UASI Grants pertain to the Los Angeles/Long Beach Urban Area Security Initiative grant program. [City of LB website text] "UASI is designed to provide a coordinated effort to fund regional-serving emergency equipment acquisitions and training for first responders. Through UASI grant funds, Port Security Grant Program (PSGP), and State Homeland Security Grant (SHSG) grant funds, the City’s HSGP grant program has averaged $9 million annually for the past several years. With these funds, the City purchases new emergency operations equipment, funds training of emergency responders, and supports other homeland security needs."
Bond Account Information (1989-92)
Account #- 77609, 79085, 679086, 79274 (1989-92)
Tax Increment Pass-Through Worksheets (1997-2002)
Drawdowns- North Project Area & Open Space Bonds (April 2009-January 2011)
Poly, West Beach, West Long Beach Industrial, Central Project Area Bond Drawdowns (June 2008-December 2010)
Redevelopment Agency- Land-Held for Resale (2003-2011)
ADP Summer Youth Payroll Bank Reconciliation (2004-08)
Fiscal Agent Bank Statements (2004-2006)
ADP Summer Youth Payroll Records (12/6/2000-7/5/2008)
Fiscal Agent Bank Statements (2004-2006)
North Area Bond Drawdowns (ITD-20ll)
The financial documents, some dating back to 1989, may include significant material but are beyond our capability to analyze without knowing more.
RDA Working Papers (2007,2010, September 2011)
Housing Development Working Papers (2010, September 2011)
It's unclear exactly what type of documents are contained in "working papers," but both of these categories may contain significant materials
Council district 2: "Subject files" (1/1/2003-12/31/2008)
These vaguely described files encompass the final years in office of Councilman Dan Baker, the LB City Council's first openly gay member (elected March 1999) and the first year and a half of his successor, Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal. In 2001, Councilman Baker brought forward a proposal to explore possible reconfiguration of LB's Breakwater; his action was strongly opposed by Mayor O'Neill, peninsula and Port interests and failed to advance. In 2002, Baker ran for Mayor but was outpolled by Mayor Beverly O'Neill who won a third term via a write in. Baker was among Councilmembers who voted in mid-2002 to enable a taxpayer-costly "pension spike." In 2005, Baker raised the Breakwater issue again and prevailed with an 8-1 Council vote (Colonna dissenting) to determine if there was a federal interest in reconfiguring Breakwater. In February 2006, Councilman Baker abruptly resigned amid questions about his personal business dealings with Steve James, who headed the LB Police Officers Association union. Baker called the controversy a "witch hunt" and LB's then-City Attorney Bob Shannon stopped short of concluding there was a violation of law. Baker's successor, Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal, focused on efforts to encourage intensified downtown development and density. In subsequent years, she would become a leading advocate for pro-bicycle policies, a LB plastic bag ban (predating state policies) and a new LB Civic Center.
Council district 4: Various "Administrative", "Correspondence" and "Constituent" Files, (1/1/1999-12/31/2012)
These records cover the final 18 months of Councilman Del Roosevelt, the full four years of Councilman Dennis Carroll (2000-2004), and eight years of Councilman Patrick O'Donnell (who won a third Council term with an April 2012 write-in candidacy and a June 2012 ballot win (subsequently sought and won an Assembly seat in 2014.) The period was marked by the 2001 arrival of JetBlue at Long Beach Airport (facilitated by changing LGB's flight slot allocation rules), threatened airline litigation, the rise of LBHUSH2 and 2005-2006 controversy over the extent and configuration of permanent LB Airport terminal size expansion.
Council district 5: Various "Subject Files" and "Correspondence" (1/1/2006-12/31/2010)
These documents cover the final six months of Councilwoman Jackie Kell and the first four years and five months of Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske. During this period, Councilwoman Schipske angered Mayor Bob Foster by refusing to cast a unanimous "yes" vote to put a Foster-sought property parcel tax on the November 2008 ballot. Schipske's stance effectively stymied passage of the parcel property tax by requiring its passage by a 2/3 margin instead of a simple majority. A year later, Schipske clashed with Foster again when Foster pursued a concept (reportedly considered by some Hollywood investors) of turning the former Douglas/Boeing plant in a major Hollywood studio and production facility, while Schipske urged the City to pitch Elon Musk on locating a Tesla factory at the site. The studio plan fizzled; Musk located his Tesla factory in northern CA, and the former Douglas plant is now basically a distribution point for Mercedez Benz vehicles arriving at the Ports of LB and L.A.
LBREPORT.com will keep our readers apprised of our progress on accessing the records we're requested to examine. Further to follow.
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