Getting to know the City Council Candidates

The No Rezone Committee recently created a Brentwood City Council Candidate Questionnaire covering a variety of topics and sent it to each of the five candidates with a request to complete it by September 3rd.

Three candidates responded and, by responding, they have demonstrated that they care about citizen involvement and are willing to engage with concerned citizens who may come before them on the City Council.

Through their responses, they have shared with us where they currently stand on topics including the ULL, the DR/SL proposed rezone, Goodwill, and the ECCFPD.  With their permission, we share their responses with you.

In the order that they were received:

John D. Fink

Johnny Rodriguez

Olga Vidriales

We thank each of them for sharing their thoughts and for their willingness to go above and beyond for our city and it’s citizens.

No Rezone DR/SL Committee’s City Council Endorsement

The No Rezone DR/SL Committee hereby endorses Planning Commission Chair John Fink for the office of Brentwood City Council Member, and we urge all Brentwood voters to give him your vote on November 6, 2018.

We know John, and we know where he stands. We know he stands with us. And we know he stands with Brentwood. We have spoken to John many times, in our group and individually. John is direct and forthright. John does not play coy, and he does not hide. When John speaks, he knows what he is talking about, because he has been in the middle of things in this city for many years, and because he has devoted his time to understanding how this city works. And yet, for all his experience and expertise, he also listens. When we talk to John, we know he hears us. And we know he cares about what we care about.

Like us, John cares about Brentwood, about the people living and working in Brentwood, now and in the coming years. Like us, probably more than most of us, John knows the opportunities and challenges that face Brentwood right now, at this critical time, as we fill in the last of our available spaces. He knows that we must be careful with our choices now. He knows that these choices will affect the quality of life now and for future generations to come.

We have all seen first hand that John will not flinch and will not back down, when a project comes to the city that is not consistent with our General Plan and the goals it sets to ensure our best future. On the evening of April 3, 2018, we saw Planning Commission Chair John Fink in action. On this night, with the Goodwill project before him, we saw John make sure every concerned neighbor had a full chance to be heard. We saw him lead the Planning Commission to the correct conclusion, that this project was not the right project for this location, and that it could not be done in a way consistent with the General Plan. This was a difficult and courageous position to take, but it was the right one, and was ultimately upheld on appeal to the City Council. That night, we saw a man willing to stand up for his city, a man not afraid to make the right call, and we saw the man we want sitting on the Brentwood City Council when our No Rezone issue, and so many others important to our future, come up for a vote.

The No Rezone DR/SL Committee cares about more than the future of our golf courses. We care about the future of our city. We know there are many difficult decisions ahead, and we want to make sure that we have leadership in our city that will listen to the citizens. We need leaders who will work hard find the best path forward to protect our quality of life, while providing the kind of growth we need to provide good local jobs for our citizens and dependable revenue for our city. If you agree with us, then we urge you to come out to cast your vote for John Fink for Brentwood City Council on November 6, 2018.

Letter from Resident to City Council

We received the below from a Brentwood resident:

In EBT’s 7/13/2018 news report on DRSL Development Project:

Jeff Farano is back to claiming there is a “small group of vocal opponents” even though we gave petition numbers of 2800+ on-line and 800+ paper at the City Council Meeting.

He also says opponents spread “misinformation” and created “fear and confusion”.  Please don’t let SunCoast discredit/trivialize the concerns of residents.  The city staff’s report supporting a recommendation to deny the project reflects many of the concerns of residents as well.  Is Jeff Farano saying that they are spreading misinformation and creating fear and confusion as well with their detailed analysis and findings?

Here is a letter written to Council and Commission to counter SunCoast’s latest letter to select residents:

Attention Commission and Council:

I received a letter (dated June 18) from Jeff Farano, Suncoast, explaining what they are doing and urging me to support the DRSL Development Project.

I was very disturbed by how he twisted the facts…to try and convince me/residents that the building of huge apartment complexes in Deer Ridge and Shadow Lakes is beneficial/an improvement. So I would appreciate it if you would read my response below before you make your decision on July 12 and in August.

Jeff Farano wrote: “We have tried everything to make the courses profitable and have even tried to sell to a golf buyer.  There has been virtually no interest and zero credible buyers.”

First, I’d like to say SunCoast did not try everything.

In 2017, the SL golf course and club house had been poorly maintained for years.  There were weeds everywhere and plants were extremely overgrown.  The club houses at both golf courses had areas that needed repairs and painting.  Things were falling apart.

When SL announced rotations, we all knew for sure it was not doing well. I met with Charles Fralix, the General Manager at the time, to see how we, residents, could help.

  • I suggested we could get volunteers to help but he said “no” because that was a liability.
  • I asked about getting additional funding from the owner to make repairs so the course and facilities can be more attractive. He said the owner would not increase their budget.

Second, we now know of an interested credible buyer.  Advance Golf made an offer and was turned down.  To this day, Jamie B. Miller of Advance Golf says their offer was credible. (See email below.)  And in the meanwhile, the golf course continues to deteriorate.  Now it will require a lot more money to rehabilitate.

Jeff Farano wrote: “After dozens of meeting with the community, we identified a solution that keeps golf in both neighborhoods and helps us continue financially with minimal impact.”

The fact is they did not meet with the community before the proposal was created.

They did meet with the community to share their final proposal and tried to convince residents that was the “only” solution.

They did meet with the community to ask their ideas for what to do with the closed golf holes.

If they had met with the community before creating their proposal, they would have known that many residents would not have wanted huge apartment complexes next to/near their homes.  That many residents would not consider their solution “minimal impact.’

They would have saved a lot of time and money. Money they could have used to maintain/improve the Shadow Lakes golf course making it more attractive to golfers.

I am not here to guess what residents want or what the best solution is. But I do know many do not want huge apartment complexes next to or near their homes.  Go to https://goo.gl/VLmjw9 and you will see 2800+ have signed the online petition against the high density apartment complexes.

Jeff Farano wrote. “The end result will be an appropriate and exciting reuse of the closed holes and a carefully maintained sustainable course together with new senior homes which will generate the funding for all the improvements as well as ongoing funding for maintenance.”

Don’t be fooled by his “end result” proclamations. The “senior homes” are huge apartment building complexes with a total of 560 units. The proposed apartment complex of 18.2 acres just for Shadow Lakes will be the largest apartment complex, both in mass and acreage, in all of Brentwood, present and pending.

The proposed apartment complex of 13.77 acres for Deer Ridge will be the third largest.

These proposed apartment complexes are very undesirable and extremely out of character with the low to very low density houses of these communities.

Many of us question if there are 560 seniors waiting to and can afford to rent out those apartments. These apartments would be charging a premium to fund a golf course that many seniors may not use.

What if these are not rented out?

What will they do if they cannot get that ongoing funding?

Then what?

Change “senior” to “regular” apartments?

Not maintain the combined golf course?

Jeff Farano wrote: The “other option is to close both courses, walk away and sell to a housing developer…looking to build everywhere. This would be a lose-lose for the owner and neighborhood.”

This is a loss only for the SunCoast. This is an empty threat.

If Suncoast can find such a clueless developer who would buy land that is zoned as follows: “All property described on the development plan and related exhibits as a golf course shall remain as open space, until such time as a golf course is deemed necessary for implementation. At no such time shall any residential development occur within that area designated as a golf course.”

Then, we say “Go ahead and sell it.”

If any housing developer wants to build houses on the golf courses/open spaces, s/he would have to go through a very challenging General Plan change and rezoning process. The same process Suncoast is going through now.

Hopefully that developer would be smart enough to get input from residents before they come up with plans.

Jeff Farano wrote: “We have heard rumors that there is nothing the city or community can do to ensure we actually do what we are proposing. The truth is we will enter into a development agreement with the city, a legally binding contract, to ensure we do as we have planned.”

This is not the whole truth. The present General Plan and Zoning are legally binding and yet anyone, like SunCoast, can come along and apply to change it.

The developer agreement may no longer be valid if the General Plan and/or zoning are changed by other developers.

And what consequence are there if the development agreement is not met?

What if SunCoast/developers declare the project unprofitable and/or declare they lack funds?

What can the city do?

Even if there are written/agreed upon consequences, how would these be enforced?

The city does not have the funds to be in lengthy litigation.

Jeff Farano wrote: “A recent impact analysis of the project found that the senior housing property taxes will generate an annual surplus of $105,370 to the city’s General Fund, $135,000 annually to the Fire Department, and $600,000 annually to local schools.”

First, we need to see that impact analysis so that these figures quoted are verified.

Second, we do not know if the amount $105, 370 would be enough to cover all the cost of city services that 560 plus new residents would generate.

We do not know how much of that $135,000 would actually go to local fire services and how much of that $600,000 would actually go to our schools.

I urge Council and Commission members not to take their numbers at face value. To question them and get the facts if those numbers matter.

But in the end, it doesn’t matter to me and many other residents because the huge apartment building complexes are not wanted in our community.  They are not a desirable element in our community.

After the proposal is rejected. I will be happy to be a part of a community group to discuss solutions and what is acceptable.

Sincerely,
A concerned resident.

Email from Jamie B. Miller on 7/4/2018:

“As I have said in the past we have discussed with them a plan to buy. But because they are losing money (at both properties) NO bank will finance this plan. So they are looking for All Cash buyers. I have been in this business for over 30 years and I can count on 3 fingers the number of courses that sold for All Cash. And each of those was in a much better financial situation than Deer Ridge and Shadow Lakes. So they are incorrect and misrepresenting facts when they so there are “zero credible buyers.” Sure, the deal to buy those courses will have to be creative but it can be done AND we have proposed some creative plans to them already. But because they are not All Cash they were rejected.”

SunCoast invited real estate agents to an informational meeting at the Shadow Lakes clubhouse on March 29, 2018.

An estimated 17 no rezone volunteers showed up to let real estate brokers and school traffic know that many residents are against the rezoning.

Many passing by cars, trucks, buses, and even a fire truck showed support by honking their horns.

The Press – Taking A Stand

Draft EIR Response

With the close of the comment period, we are ready to announce what our GoFundMe campaign has been funding.

We had a land use attorney prepare comments in response to the Draft EIR, which includes statements from three experts in the fields of biology, traffic, and air quality.

We kept expenses to a minimum, but we are still short of collecting enough to pay for the report. We expect the final bill to be in the range of $11,000. So, we are leaving this campaign open for more contributions, in the hope that more of our neighbors can help us reach the goal of fully paying for the response report.

We hope you will agree it is an excellent report and truly demonstrates the shortcomings of the EIR submitted by Kimley-Horn on behalf of their clients, Suncoast.

 

City Council 2018/04/10

Video

Note:  The below is an interpretation of the public comments during the city council meeting.  These views are not necessarily the views of the no rezone committee.  If you believe anything is misrepresented here, please let us know.

One (1) resident spoke in favor of the rezone.  Reasons for the support  include the state of the golf industry, a belief that the project will bring increased home values, tax revenue and new jobs. Also, he repeated the unsubstantiated claim that only a small minority opposes and clarified that he was not paid by SunCoast to speak.

Ten (10) residents spoke against the rezone.  Reasons for the opposition include:

  • General Plan states “Maintain the character of existing neighborhoods by ensuring new development is compatible in style, size, color and footprint with the existing residence in the neighborhood.” The project conflicts with this.
  • golf courses buyers are not interested due to current conditions of the courses–the courses have to be made presentable for sale
  • investors typically cut losses by selling low and re-investing
  • traffic concerns, including existing traffic on roads
  • there are no guarantees
  • emergency facilities and response impacts for proposed facility and existing community
  • project will have five years of construction, noise, lighting and traffic
  • other areas are already planned for this type of project
  • adds extra cost to seniors (assessments)
  • lack of trust of SunCoast
    • destroyed course
    • planned to develop undervalued land to make money
    • they have used scare tactics
    • follow the money and only SunCoast benefits
    • they have NDAs in place and have compensated home owners for changing their stance on the rezone
  • other options need to be considered
  • project does not mention timing of elements of projects such as when the bridge would be done
  • lot premiums are affected and SunCoast has acknowledge as much

Some residents also highlighted what they are not against and those include

  • finding ways to increase tax revenue through business
  • helping the existing fire services

Other comments related to the proposed rezone include:

You have to live in Brentwood to be on the city council, but then council members are recused for living in certain neighborhoods.  This doesn’t make sense.

Opponents also respectfully asked what the city council needs to see to know that the opposition is not a minority.

The city manager indicated it would not make decision based on 12 citizens, however,

  • on a walking petition with over 100 people reached, only 2 were in support of the rezone
  • the online petition is at 2,718 and climbing
  • the no rezone action committee has 50 active volunteers
  • an estimated 300 people were at the EIR kick-off and most were vocal opponents of the plan
  • many speakers opposed at the EIR vote, plus 40 emails were sent
  • 61 individual contributors donated a total of $7,850 GoFundMe dollars