What did they gnaw at with their articulated mandibles in the Dec. 16th meeting of the Historic Predestination Commission?

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First, please note that it doesn’t say what they pledged allegiance to.

The first two buildings are the pool hall and the community center. Those buildings’ names have been bandied about recently, and until very recently it’s gone in one eye and out the other. I’m realizing that the boring stuff is the crookedest, so we will squint through the fumes enveloping those edifices in this post. It’s something about moving the community center to an old pool hall and turning the community center into low-income housing, which sounds more like the plot of an unreleased I Love Lucy  than responsible civic governance. From an associated flyer:

You may have heard that the City is considering a joint partnership project to reconfigure the 4th Dimension facility on Myrtle into our new Community Center, while also transitioning the City’s current Community Center property into a housing site.

Say what? Is there not something off-key about housing low-income families in the old community center, and all too on-key about this crew planning to splurge on a re-decorating a pool hall? 

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The prospectus hints at some weird that’s no doubt on its way.

Hint #1: On November 3, 2015, City Clowncil okayed an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) with a Mr. Dick Hale. It gave him until January 15, 2016 to come up with a hare-brained scheme to make himself wealthier and leave the city with nothing. Yes, another one of those. Dick is a commercial real estate broker and owns The Hale Corporation, which develops commercial properties. His current challenge is to develop the following fantastical list of events into money. The list is a Rube Goldbergian masterpiece. Normal type doesn’t do it justice, so I Clowncilized it:

project-crazy

Who is Mr. Hale and why does he have an ENA for an inexplicable multi-party-litigation-waiting-to-happen? That question has to be set aside for a moment because every statement on the first slide of the PowerPoint is a red-flag-raiser.

The project concept was developed based on challenges associated with both the 4th Dimension facility and with the City’s current Community Center

And, you see, when two entities have challenges at the same time, they must be solved with a single unifying solution, not two. Besides, it’s going to rain. (If you read “Do they think We’re ‘Toopid“that made sense.)

For all practical purposes, the building is too large to fill with traditional restaurant/retail uses.

All well and good, or would be if it were true. How is that my problem, or the city government’s? If it is in any sense the government’s problem, recall that they’re the dimwits that won’t allow pot dispensaries. It could be much more than a dispensary: indoor rent-a-grow spaces upstairs for aspiring farmers, with a recording studio/dance floor/music school downstairs. If they let someone park a taco truck outside, half of Monrovia would be there every night.

The City’s Community Center is nearly 40 years old (built in 1977) and is need of some TLC. 

Oh my bleeding heart. On the one hand they have an ordinance that makes it illegal to huff and puff in our own yards lest we blow our listing pre-1940s shacks down. Now we’re expected to kick the community center to the curb because it’s a year older than James Franco?

(It’s adorable that they added “built in 1977” in parentheses. They couldn’t figure out whether being 40 years old or being built in 1977 sounded older, so they used both. Nice try, but at 40 years old it might sound ancient to Generation X, but it’s among the youngest buildings in Monrovia.)

Recent projections indicate that the renovation costs for the Community Center would run around $550,000

Well, that’d be like renovating an 1800 sf house for $52,000, so I guess it’s a little more than paint and flooring.

If they’d said the community center is too small, or that the parking was no longer adequate to demand (and it wasn’t because they’d been sued by the owner of the parking  lot) I’d be inclined to save this post as a draft and move on. But it’s all so specious…

Given that this is Monrovia, I predict that we’ll soon encounter a bunch of disingenuous justifications for this hare-brained scheme, stretched thinner than a congressman’s alibi, for accepting the first thing Hale proposes. How does one sell re-habbing a booze-stained firetrap into a community center with its entrance in a dank alley, and stacking poor people on pallets next to folding tables and left-over bunting in a disco-era community center?

Hale just had his staff draw pretty pictures that made city council feel as wealthy as their Sierra Madre counterparts, and waited for them to talk themselves into it.

4d-alley.png
A dank alley is transformed into a dank alley where a guy can no longer swig Everclear and cuss at invisible foes, and that’s supposed to be a good thing.

There are pages to go before we weep, but first let’s see how hearty the city’s relationship with Mr. Hale is.

Los Angles Times • May 23, 1993
A complex [you dont say!] deal wrapping up the two-decades-long [a quickie] redevelopment of Monrovia’s once-blighted East Huntington Drive corridor was approved unanimously [uh oh] by the City Council last week. “This is the final key in the redevelopment of Huntington Drive,” said Donald Hopper, assistant executive director of the city’s redevelopment agency. The agreement reached Tuesday includes the sale of 45,500 square feet of land at 201 E. Huntington Drive to Dick Hale of The Hale Corp., for $19.50 per square foot.

That cost Mr. Hale $877,000. It’s about an acre, but still. Here’s the building he created. Never seen it before in my life although I’ve driven past it countless times.

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It’s 21,028 sf, and advertised rents are on the order of $1.85/sf triple net. If just 50% of the 21,028 sf is rented every month, the owner is grossing $233,400 a year. It’s assessed somewhere in the low to mid two million range. But something’s missing, item C informs us.

201huntingtonTaxes
A: County Tax Assessor, B: County Tax Collector, C: Spokeo.com

…about a third of the land. What became of that? Looking at the map and a satellite photo, it must have been joined to 225 E Huntington. Both are currently owned by Addmaster, which has something to with counting money, not surprisingly.

The two-thirds of the land that Hale retained are worth $465,003 to the tax collector. That’s 53% of what he paid for the whole parcel. If it’s based on what people were paying for developed properties in 1998, then proportionally, the portion Hale retained should have been worth (32/137 x $465,003) in 1993. That’s only $108,000. The whole lot would have been worth $157,000.

1993 was a bum year, though. Averaging it and its neighbors gets us about $51/sf, and $172,000 instead of $108,000 for 2/3 of the lot, and $250,000 for the whole thing.

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That is weak approach. I tried it with approximate land values for homes on big lots sold around that time. There’s a lot wrong with that as I’m sure you can figure out, but still, if it’s all wrong, it’s wrong in the same direction.

HALE_VALUE

I’m not going to go straight to money-laundering. Let’s just say I’ll meet you there later.


News: It’s been announced that the project was determined to be unfeasible, which a nine-year-old on crank could have figured out on Day 1. The only thing to add is this:

There was once going to be a magnificent skating rink in Monrovia. Mr. Hale was part of the group that planned to build it. Then, there wasn’t going to be a magnificent skating rink in Monrovia. And there isn’t one.


 

135 West Palm. It might have become a victim of circumstance if this project had gone forward. There was mention of its getting sucked into the vortex by virtue of proximity to the existing community center. Check it. Elsewhere on the city’s web site, its owners are noted for having failed to file a status report required by the Mills Act. The fine for that, if the city chooses to impose it, is 12% of its market value, which is A LOT: it sold for $705,000 in 2010. I wonder if the new owners are aware of the burdens of the Mills Act. I hope so…I’ve seen the city take title to properties after loading on thousands in fines for tall dead weeds, so I’m going to keep an eye on 135 West Palm…

Train Station Kept ‘a  Rollin’

It was listed on the agenda, but why? Is there new way to enrich a developer at the expense of residents who earn, on average, about 40% of what city employees earn? [I’ll check my estimate against reality and correct that figure, I promise. It’s my best guess, though.] Maybe they were going to stuff the project with extras and stick an apple in its mouth.

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Oh how I’d love to be a fly on the wall for one of those gravy train station meetings. Gravy train everything. They pay a guy $700/month to clean the fountain. Another guy with the same last name (?) has a contract to maintain 52 bus stops, ONLY 40 OF WHICH HAVE BENCHES for about $450/year each. $18,000 year. You know the fix is in by the way he’s praised and the work is exaggerated in the motion to renew his contract. OF COURSE HE’S RELIABLE. HE’S GETTING $70 A DAY TO DO SOMETHING HE MIGHT SPEND 80 DAYS A YEAR ON, IF EACH BUSH BENCH NEEDED 16 HOURS OF LABOR A YEAR.  THAT’S $1500/MONTH.

That’s $1500/month.


Yeah I thought you’d want to know. The recent property seizure for dead plants was a lot at Foothill and Canyon, 302 E Foothill. The owners were elderly folk who live in Sacramento.

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The city government put a lien on it, waited, and seized it. 15 seconds later, they sold it to a developer for $345,000, and he built a duplex and sold it for $1,120,000. Not listed for sale to the general pubic…no revenue share…a naked giveaway to a rich guy.



 

We have to overhaul 415 S Ivy from stem to stern. I’ve seen too many grant deeds where $0 or very little changes hands, signed by wobbly hands. Someone’s granddad giving away the farm; someone who had no one looking out for him.

Because mayor is paid nothing, and council members earn only $4800 per year, the people who can fill the positions are independently wealthy, highly motivated, or both.  We can start by slashing salaries and benefits at the cop shop and across the board, and use the slop to pay real salaries to real representatives of the city’s demographic, which isn’t, for the most part, second-generation real estate speculators.

Sierra Madre in the process of dumping their cops in favor of a contract with the sheriff’s department. Think that’s crazy? Keep scrolling down…there are 59 people in the Monrovia PD and only 11 make less than $100,000 a year. Eleven make over $200,000 a year. The background is psychedelic because you be tripping by the time you’re done scrolling.

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