Pinole Approves Purchase of the Faria House

FariaHome

July 20, 2016
Ok, the dust has settled, the votes are in and the Pinole City Council, by a vote of 4-0 (Council member Banuelos was absent) has approved the purchase of the Faria House for $30,000.
The Council did agree to pull this Consent Calendar item as I requested so that the community could express their opinions.

After spending the last three years of my life as Chair of the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee and arm wrestling with the School District to get information that the public should be entitled to, I am hyper-aware and sensitive to organizations that are reluctant to share Public information with the Public.

The Appraisal link is below.
2100 San Pablo Ave Pinole – (Credit Bid)_Redacted-2

I received the Faria House Appraisal via email yesterday about 3 hours before the meeting.
The Council did not appear to be concerned that the appraisal had not been made available to the public along with the Agenda packet.
I had consulted a Real Estate attorney on the question of appraisals as public documents.
He replied, “an appraisal is normally a private document belonging to the party that hired the appraiser. If the appraiser was hired by the City, then presumably it is a City document subject to public review to the extent available for such City documents.”
The Appraisal is dated June 15, 2016, I believe the Public should have been able to review this document no later than July 14, 2016, when the Agenda was posted.
This transaction does not involve negotiations between two different parties, the City is both the Buyer and the Seller, therefore the document should have been made public in a timely manner.

Assistant City Manager, Hector De La Rosa mentioned during the discussion that the renovation bid of $322,000, was prepared by a contractor, not by the Appraisal firm, he also stated that another estimate for renovation is in the range of $500,000.
I did not see a separate document that backs-up that estimate.
I would like to see the cost estimates before the Council moves into the next phase of this project.

Members of the Faria family were there to express their desire to have the Faria House become the City of Pinole Historical Museum.  There were some touching and comical moments as members of this family and, other, not so young citizens expressed their frustration at the time it has taken to get this far.
Council member Toms explained the Successor Agency process to everyone, it is the same process I have outlined in my original post (below).
Members of the Historical Society were also there to express their desire to designate the property for use as a Museum.

However, Mayor Swearingen correctly pointed out that the agenda item under discussion was not about the use of the Faria House, but rather about the Purchase of the property.
By pulling this item from the Consent Calendar it afforded the Council the opportunity to explain to the public why the property was given a Fair Market Value of $30,000.
A productive discussion before a decision is made should never come under fire.

The use of the Faria House will be taken up at a later date, the Council did not set a date for that discussion.

My suggestion to allocate space in the Faria House for other non-profits that serve the community has been questioned because there are concerns that the floor plan and the square footage of the Faria House will not accommodate anything more than the Historical Society and its artifacts.
I am planning to tour the Faria House to get a better sense of exactly how limited that floor plan is. I am offering my support and my services to the City to work towards a reasonable and responsible solution.

I have no beef with the Pinole Historical Society. I am not at war with anyone, I am simply expressing my point of view, and my concerns as a 45-year resident of Pinole and as a community advocate and a taxpayer.

There is enough acrimony in politics today, isn’t it better to be open, inclusive and think of this City as ours?

July 19, 2016

Sometimes one just have to wonder how things get so distorted and “spun”.
The following email was sent to members of the Pinole Historical Society and others regarding my position on the purchase of the Faria House as stated in this post.
The funny thing is those who received the email are reading my post and asking why has my position on the Faria House been so misrepresented to them?

“Hi all,”

“Ivette Ricco announced on her blog that she will oppose the purchase of the Faria House at Tuesday’s council meeting. Her blog post is here:
https://riccofreako.com/2016/07/18/will-faria-house-be-sold-to-city-for-30000/”

“Please attend the council meeting and speak in favor of the purchase of the Faria House for the purpose of establishing a museum. The council needs to hear that there is public support for this project. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. This will be among the first items on the agenda.”

“Thanks.”

Jeff Rubin
President
Pinole Historical Society

So what did I clearly state below?

I support the establishment of a Museum in the Faria House.
But, the Pinole Historical Society is just one of the local non-profit organizations in Pinole who seek a home that is affordable and offers them a place where the public can easily interact with them; among them the Pinole Chamber of Commerce and the Pinole Artisans. These organizations serve this community and have served the community for many years and if the Faria House is to serve all, then these organization must be included in the plan.
Other potential uses could also be considered.
The Faria House could also serve a great venue for meetings and small private events.

Asking that this Consent Calendar Item be pulled until the public has had an opportunity to discuss this is a reasonable and responsible request.
These are public funds, the initial purchase of the Faria House and Property was made with Redevelopment Funds, taxes paid by all of us. The General Fund is also taxpayer money.
What’s unreasonable about asking to have this transfer of title tabled for more public discussion?
Bewildering.

July 18, 2016
The Pinole City Council will consider the Purchase of the Faria House for $30,000, from General Funds tomorrow.

Agenda
AG-2016-07-19-2

Resolution
07C – Pinole City Council 7-19-2016 -Faria House-2

What’s happening?

In 2011 the Legislature dissolved Redevelopment Agencies in California.
That action allowed the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Pinole to create a “successor agency”. The City decided to be the “Housing Successor” to the former agency.
That transferred certain housing assets to the City.
Among the properties transferred as a Housing Asset was the Faria House.
The property was transferred for affordable housing and if subsequently sold would have the proceeds, by law, used for affordable housing purposes.

In March 2016 the City sought direction on properties formerly owned by the Housing and Redevelopment Agency, and specifically the Faria House.
The City had three options:
1. Purchase the Properties at Fair Market Value.
2. Continue to Use the Faria House and land as affordable housing (it’s current designation).
3. Preserve the property as open space.

In June 2016 the City received the Fair Market value appraisal on the Faria House.
The Faria House was appraised as a mixed commercial/residential use consistent with the zoning and based on its “highest and best” use.
The appraisal took into consideration the location, amenities, size and parking, and the known factor that the property has been vacant for many years.

The appraised value of the Faria House and its land was estimated at $350,000 with a credit for renovations in the amount of $322,000.
This property has been given a Fair Market Value of $30,000.

If the City is to purchase the Faria House at the Fair Market Value, according to this appraisal (no data has been offered on the Appraiser nor has a copy of the Appraisal been offered as part of this agenda item), the funds for the purchase of the Faria House will be taken from the General Fund and the proceeds from the sale will be deposited in the Housing Fund to be used for Future affordable housing projects/programs.

In a recent article in the Pinole Historical Society Newsletter, several projects in the City were mentioned to point out how the City has helped finance various projects and serve the needs of the community.
It reads in part:

“Do we need a community museum?”

“Did we need a library when we forked up the money to build it?”

“What about the new Pinole Skate Park for those who enjoy that activity?”

“Our Community Playhouse is undergoing an interior rebuilding to better serve its audiences.”

“The Senior Center opened in 1990 to meet senior citizens’ activity needs, and is undergoing a quarter-million-dollar re-roofing project.”

“The money spent on these projects demonstrates how the city addresses the lifestyles and interests of all people who live in Pinole.”

Yes, the City does attempt to address the lifestyles and interests of all the people who live in Pinole, it should.
It’s the role of government to serve its community, all of its community.

The Pinole Historical Society has long wanted to establish a Museum in Pinole.
They have artifacts that need to be stored and preserved.
The roadblock has been the cost of such an endeavor and the difficulty in finding funds to not only purchase a property (Faria House), but to also determine how to fund the renovation of an old structure in need of major and costly renovation.

There is major difference in the use of Public Funds and the use of other, special funds allocated.
As an example, it is my understanding that the Pinole Library is county owned and funded.
The Skate Park used Measure WW funds and Measure S funds.
The renovation of the Community Playhouse used Measure WW funds and Measure S funds.
The Senior Center roof replacement is being funded with 2014 Measure S funds.

I support the establishment of a Museum in the Faria House.
But, the Pinole Historical Society is just one of the local non-profit organizations in Pinole who seek a home that is affordable and offers them a place where the public can easily interact with them; among them the Pinole Chamber of Commerce and the Pinole Artisans. These organizations serve this community and have served the community for many years and if the Faria House is to serve all,  then these organization must be included in the plan.
Other potential uses could also be considered.
The Faria House could also serve a great venue for meetings and small private events.

I am in favor of creating a space that serves the community, celebrates its history, its present and its future and affords the various organizations in the community a place to call home.

But It is Always About the Bottom Line
The use of public funds for the purchase of the Faria House (general fund) means that the Faria House must belong to everyone.

So let’s think about this.

The cost of $30,000 is considered by many observers as extremely low, based on the location of this property in Downtown Pinole.
I have heard that other property owners in the area are concerned that this evaluation can affect the value of their similar properties in Pinole.
I’m not a realtor or an appraiser, but I sure would love to see the comps for this appraisal.
Either way it is really just moving the money from one City fund to another.

This is a consent calendar item on tomorrow’s agenda, July 9.
That means that unless this item gets pulled, there will be no in-depth discussion and will simply pass with a majority vote.
The Resolution is to Transfer Title of the Faria House Property in exchange for the Fair Market Value, $30,000 and move this asset out of  Affordable Housing.

I think we are entitled to see the full appraisal, and learn who conducted the appraisal before the Council agrees to the purchase of the Faria House.
In addition if the Council moves ahead with this, they will have set a precedent for the remaining Successor Agency properties, among them the Historic Bank Building.
That’s why it’s important for the community as a whole to know the specifics of the appraisal.
The appraisal should be a public document and be available online just as the agenda is.

If after due deliberation and consideration and feedback from the community, your elected officials deem this is an appropriate use of public funds, the next step should be to create a committee of citizens that includes all the non-profits in Pinole seeking a place to call home.

Thereafter, a plan should be established to determine how funds for the renovation of the Faria House can be raised.
$322,000 is just an estimate, that cost is likely to change and frankly it is certain to rise.
Suggestions for raising funds for renovations should include grants and fund-raising events.

There needs to be a very public conversation about the  use of public funds for renovation of this property and the decisions made should be very carefully scrutinized.
I am not convinced the City can or should use public funds to renovate this property.

I ask the City Council to:
1. Remove this item from the Consent Calendar.
2. Place the full Appraisal on the City Website.
3. Identify and meet with local non-profits to garner their input.
4. Fully vet this purchase before making a decision that impacts the community and use of public funds.

 

 

4 thoughts on “Pinole Approves Purchase of the Faria House

  1. It looks like business as usual in Pinole. Don’t ask and don’t tell attitude. My million dollar question “Who is running the city of Pinole?’ If you have an answer, can you let me know? thanks,
    irma ruport

  2. Pingback: It’s Always Sunny in Pinole? | Ivette Ricco

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