THE PROPOSED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
PARKING STRUCTURE — July 6, 2022
 

DO WE NEED MORE PARKING FACILITIES DOWNTOWN? TWO CONSULTANTS SAY “NO!”

 

A few years ago, the City hired IBI Consulting to assess whether we need additional parking in Downtown Laguna Beach. The analysis concluded that the existing parking supply of public and private spaces exceeded the actual parking demand throughout Downtown. This might be hard to believe, but IBI found that parking demand exceeded 85% of the total spaces available during only 22 out of 144 time periods reviewed.

 

The study goes on to state that providing more Downtown parking has the potential to worsen traffic congestion by drawing more cars into the local street circulation systems. A second consultant, MIG Inc., was hired to produce the Downtown Specific Plan Update. MIG incorporated the IBI finding and concluded “…the existing parking supply exceeds the actual parking demand throughout the downtown.”

 

The Council majority used the findings of the two consultants to justify adoption of the revised Downtown Specific Plan with reduced parking requirements for restaurants (10 spaces) and retail (4 spaces) per 1,000 sq. ft. to 3 spaces per 1,000 sq. ft. for any use. A landlord can now convert retail to far more intensive restaurant/bar use without additional parking. 

 

THEN WHY IS THE CITY PROPOSING A PARKING STRUCTURE AT ALL? AND WHY ON CHURCH PROPERTY?

 

The Council now wants to ignore the expensive advice from the two consultants and let commercial building owners off the financial hook for providing more Downtown parking. Council is spending another $100,000 for a new parking study to tell the Council majority what they, developers, and commercial landlords want to hear now -- that a downtown parking structure is needed, and residents should pay for it.

 

To add insult to injury, the latest scheme is to build the parking structure we don’t need on the Presbyterian Church’s private property, pay all the costs to build it, manage it, maintain it, and pay more than $10 million to rent it for 50 years. The City will also give the Church more parking places than it has now. And, at the end of the lease, the City will give the structure to the Church.

 

WHAT’S THE TAKEAWAY? 

 

A careful analysis of the financials as presented by the City has been done and when all the details are carefully assessed, it winds up being a great deal for the Church and a bad deal for the City and its residents. If we really do need and want more Downtown parking, at least it should be on a circulation-optimal site on City land, which we would own and would cost substantially less. (Read the analysis at: www.georgeweisscitycouncil.org.)

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

 

MOST IMPORTANTLY, SPEAK UP! QUESTION THIS DEAL AT CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS, IN E-MAILS TO COUNCIL MEMBERS, IN NEWSPAPER LETTERS TO THE EDITOR AND POSTS ON NEXTDOOR.

 

INSIST THAT THE CITY NOT PROCEED WITH APPROVING THE CHURCH PARKING MOU (MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANGING) WITHOUT SUBSTANTIAL FINANCIAL ANALYSIS AND PUBLIC DISCUSSION. THE COUNCIL MAJORITY IS TRYING TO PUSH THIS THROUGH QUICKLY. IT IS NOT ENOUGH FOR COUNCIL TO SAY, “OH WELL, WE CAN GET OUT OF THE MOU LATER.”

THERE SHOULD BE NO MOU UNTIL THE DETAILS OF THIS “DEAL” ARE FULLY EXAMINED. AS IT STANDS, IT’S A BAD DEAL! SPEAK UP NOW!

Analysis of the Presbyterian Parking Structure Memorandum of Understanding
 

The value of the church land is $7 million but reduced to $5 million as we must provide $2 million to pay off a mortgage on one of the buildings. In addition, the value of the church’s existing parking lot of 36 spaces remains and is valued at 25% of the remaining land investment of $5 million. That takes the church’s investment to about $3.8 million.

The City’s cash investment is $4 million, but the City also provides an additional $10-$12 million in construction and entitlements costs, a traffic and CEQA study, and hundreds of hours of City Staff time. In addition, the church retains the use of the entire structure for 26 days a year for up to 4-5 hours for special events, and every Sunday morning from 6-12Noon. Both entitlements would be at no cost. Finally, the church saves money on 80 spaces now being rented elsewhere.

The biggest boon for the church is that it gets a significant percentage of the gross revenue while the City pays for all maintenance and insurance. That cost is 30% of the gross revenue based on data from other city parking structures and parking meters. But in this case, the City said maintenance cost was only 6% of the gross revenue – a 24% discrepancy.

Lastly, but importantly, the City used estimated revenue of $4,800 per parking space. The $4,800 per space estimates were made using the average revenue of all Downtown street meters and city parking structures. That’s not a realistic estimate.
 

Here is a summary of the costs including financing:

$9.8M construction + $2M entitlement and design + $2M cash payment to pay off the mortgage + $ 8.6M land rent = $22.4. According to appraisals, the three church properties the City is leasing for $8.6M are worth $7M.
Debt Service (principal and interest) = $17M

Total: $22.4M + $17M = $39.4M
 

Read the Staff Report here:
 

https://lagunabeachcity.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=3&event_id=2032&meta_id=132761

 
 

All representations made in this email reflect the views of the author and are not official statements of the City of Laguna Beach or City Council.
Any mistakes or  omissions are the sole responsibility of the author, George Weiss. No public funds were expended on this website.
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