DATE: August 12, 2003
TO: Board of Supervisors
SUBJECT: SUBCOMMITTEE REPORT ON RESPONSIBLE FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF THE COUNTY ADMINISTRATION CENTER (CAC) WATERFRONT PARK AND CEDAR/KETTNER SITE
On May 9, 2000 (20) our Board began exploring the possibility of converting the County Administration Center (CAC) parking lots into a waterfront park. This update includes timely policy recommendations from our committee. In light of the current State budget deficit and in recognition of escalating development costs, today’s recommendations provide an alternative to the Lambert Development, LLC (Lambert) development agreement for the Cedar/Kettner site. These recommendations will allow the County to maintain a timeline that provides for more flexibility given recent budget constraints and ensure the ultimate transformation of the CAC parking lots into an unparalleled waterfront park for present and future residents of San Diego.
CHAIRMAN GREG COX AND SUPERVISOR RON ROBERTS:
- Receive the staff report on the County Administration Center (CAC) Waterfront Park and Cedar/Kettner site.
- Direct the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) to terminate for convenience the Exclusive Negotiation Agreement (ENA) with Lambert for the private development of the County-owned Cedar/Kettner property.
- Authorize the CAO to approve and sign an Agreement with Lambert which provides that the County will return Lambert’s deposit in full in recognition that both parties, County and Lambert, agree to the mutual acceptance of and consent to: (a) the termination of the ENA and (b) the fact that both parties engaged in good faith negotiations in full compliance with all contract provisions and any applicable law.
- Find, in accordance with Section 15061(b)(3) of California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines, the following action is exempt from provisions of CEQA because it can be seen with certainty there is no possibility this activity may have significant effect on the environment.
- Direct the CAO, in accordance with Board Policy F-40, to issue a Request for Statement of Qualifications, to select a qualified consultant from respondent firms, and to negotiate a contract for as-needed consulting and design services to assist the County to develop a combined County parking structure and replacement office building for the Health and Human Services Askew building on the County-owned Cedar/Kettner property.
- Establish a capital project, and transfer appropriations of $1,300,000 from Finance and General Government Reserves to the Capital Outlay Fund for planning and design through completion of final construction documents.
- Direct the CAO, in accordance with Section 401 et seq of the County Administrative Code, to award and amend a contract for as-needed consulting and design services to develop a combined County parking structure and replacement office building for the Health and Human Services Askew building on the County-owned Cedar/Kettner property for compensation not to exceed $1,300,000.
- Direct the CAO to return to the Board in 240 days or less with a new design for a combined County parking structure and replacement office building for the Askew building, and a plan for the financing of all related costs.
Funding has already been allocated for the design phase of the CAC Waterfront Park in the 2003-2004 Operational Plan. The estimated costs for Cedar/Kettner consulting, design and project management costs total $1,300,000.
Our Board has initiated an ambitious plan for transforming the property surrounding the historic County Administration Center (CAC) in Downtown San Diego into a waterfront park. Built in 1938 as part of the federal WPA program, the CAC is considered the “Jewel of the Bay”, yet the surface parking lots that flank the structure do not provide an appropriate setting to showcase this symbol of civic pride. This site is one of the few large remaining under-utilized properties on San Diego’s waterfront, the northern portion of which is referred to as the North Embarcadero. The North Embarcadero is an area that is currently undergoing a renaissance. Adjacent neighborhoods, including Little Italy, are rapidly transforming in response to the residential influx into Downtown San Diego. The rate of residential expansion in this area means that the proposed CAC Park will have a combined role as a civic center and public open space. The Park will become a major attraction for visitors to the region, thereby enhancing the region’s tourism industry. Our decision to transform the parking lots into an unparalleled waterfront park captures a priceless opportunity for present and future residents of San Diego County.
Our Board began this unprecedented project on May 9, 2000 (20). Since then, we have unanimously approved seven actions to move this project forward, including recommendations to contract for design of the park, to relocate parking spaces at a new structure on Cedar/Kettner and to begin a search for a replacement facility for the Health and Human Services Askew Building. On May 6, 2003 (1), our Board certified the Environmental Impact Report, an action that cleared the way for approval of the development permit from the California Coastal Commission on June 12, 2003. As part of the action on May 6, our Board also requested an update on the costs associated with this Project.
On December 10, 2002 (14), as part of the process of moving forward with the project, our Board approved an Exclusive Negotiation Agreement with Lambert for the possible design and construction of replacement parking for County employees at the Cedar/Kettner site. Under the Lambert proposal, Lambert would have ownership of the site, while providing employee parking through a variety of layouts to include tandem parking and aisle parking with operator assistance. County staff has been working diligently with Lambert and Keyser Marston, the County’s agent, on a development agreement that will best serve the interests of the County and the taxpayers. In light of the current State budget deficit and in recognition of escalating development costs, our Committee’s recommendations provide an alternative to the Lambert development agreement for the Cedar/Kettner site.
We have determined that critical County resources can be saved by maintaining the Cedar/Kettner land under County ownership, and by locating a replacement office building for Askew and employee parking on that site. There are a number of benefits to this option. First, we can eliminate the need for tandem parking and parking in the aisles, a fact that will minimize operational costs inside the parking structure while making it easier for County employees. Second, our Board will save money by accommodating Health and Human Services at the Cedar/Kettner site, rather than purchasing a new parcel and building office space at another location. Third, there would be two entrances and exits to the parking structure to facilitate quick entry and exit and there would only be two levels of underground parking. Finally, the County would retain ownership of the Cedar/Kettner site, thereby maintaining this asset for unforeseen future needs. In the end, our recommendations for this site will save money for the County, while providing for a more efficient and comfortable parking situation for County employees.
In light of these benefits, our recommendations would terminate the discussions with Lambert and the Exclusive Negotiation Agreement and would authorize the CAO to take certain actions. One of the actions is to authorize the CAO to approve and sign an Agreement with Lambert which provides that the County will return Lambert’s deposit in full in recognition that both parties, County and Lambert, agree to the mutual acceptance of and consent to: (a) the termination of the ENA and (b) the fact that both parties engaged in good faith negotiations in full compliance with all contract provisions and any applicable law.
The remaining recommendations authorize the CAO to issue a Request for Qualifications for design services for a parking structure/office building for the County of San Diego at the Cedar/Kettner site. A design proposal and financing plan would be brought back to the Board for consideration within 240 days, at which time our Board would consider authorization of funding for development of the Cedar/Kettner property.
While the development of the CAC Waterfront Park provides a tremendous opportunity to enhance the public use and civic space of the CAC, the Subcommittee believes that this development must occur in a way that also provides increased benefits to the County employees with a careful expenditure of taxpayer funds. These recommendations provide the opportunity for responsible future development of both the CAC Waterfront Park and the Cedar/Kettner site.
We urge your support.
Supervisor, Fourth District