(July 26, 2001) -- LBReport.com has learned the CA State Lands Commission has tentatively set its next meeting for August 29.in Sacramento and the agenda will likely include QW Bay.
The meeting's date, location and agenda aren't final until issued, but State Lands Commission Executive Director Paul Thayer confirmed to LBReport.com today that a land swap is being discussed between State Lands Commission staff and LB city staff, although it has not been finalized.
Mr. Thayer said State Lands Commission staff is working with the City of LB on a potential land swap to transfer parts of the site involving "land uses in the QW Bay project that are potentially not consistent with the uses of public trust land."
He noted this didn't mean all of the project, but "just things like a movie theater, the book store, that kind of thing," adding, "I think there would be some questions about transferring out the waterfront property. That's not at issue here. The controversial issues are inland..."
That portion of QW Bay entertainment and retail complex site might be transferred out of the public trust area in exchange "for other land that would then be put into the public trust land use designation."
Mr. Thayer said State Lands Commission staff was "looking at a couple of different sites, but a lot of them are in the L.A. river area." He declined to be more specific, noting Commission staff had not reached a final agreement with the City of LB yet.
"We still have to do the due diligence, make sure there's no toxic contamination of the sites that might go into the public trust designation, complete the appraisal process, that kind of thing. So there's a lot of detail work that needs to go in before a deal can be finalized," Mr. Thayer said.
He said a deal may be wrapped up by the August 29 meeting. In the meantime, there's "a lot of hard work for the staff, a lot of work to complete some of the parcels that we're talking about that would go into the public trust actually consist of dozens of individual lots, so there's just a lot of work" involved in the process.
Posing a devil's advocate question from a taxpayer's perspective, LBReport.com asked in essence why the state would give up highly desirable ocean front property in exchange for arguably less desirable areas along the L.A. river.
Mr. Thayer replied the Commission was doing studies on the area and "our appraisers are working very hard to determine that the state property, the state public trust lands, in fact will be held whole. That in the end of the day, there's no loss in value to the state. And that's a job we take very, very seriously."
LBReport.com asked if the land proposed to be swapped for QW Bay area was upriver or actually in the tidelands. Mr. Thayer said it was in LB. When we noted LB extends inland by several miles, Mr. Thayer indicated he'd rather not discuss specifics for now, citing the pendency of the matter.
The State Lands Commission does not have permit review authority over the QW Bay project. However, at its April 24 meeting in Los Angeles, two of its three members (Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and Controller Kathleen Connell) stunned LB officials by siding with critics of the planned 18 acre retail and entertainment component of the QW Bay project.
Bustamante and Connell. two of the state's most powerful elected officials, expressed concerns that the development did not provide enough public benefits in the tidelands (which the City of LB holds and manages under a state granted statutory trust) and a movie theater complex [an anchor tenant, state of the art 15 screen facility] and similar uses might set a precedent for future public trust tidelands projects.
The Commissioners urged LB city staff to work with Commission staff to try to find some mechanism to provide additional public benefits.
The project has been granted a permit by the CA Coastal Commission, the state agency that has legal permit authority. [In a separate matter, a Sacramento Superior Court judge has ruled the Coastal Commission's composition is unconstitutional; the decision is being appealed.] Coastal Commission staff has previously told LBReport.com there is nothing specific in the Coastal permit conditioned on approval by the Lands Commission.
Developer DDR, through its spokespersons, has previously told LBReport.com that the company's position is the project is fully entitled to proceed.
As also previously reported by LBReport.com, DDR's web site has listed its QW Bay area entertainment and retail complex as "The Pike at Rainbow Harbor." A hyperlink goes to a page that advises, "This property page is under construction. Information is forthcoming."