More info about the proposed mixed-use development for southeast Stockton

The Sunday paper includes this story about work being done to redevelop a long-vacant lot at Airport Way and Eighth Street in southeast Stockton.

Here’s a link to the final proposal that was submitted by Stanford students in their winning entry into the Low-Income Housing Challenge, which has been held for 25 years by Merrill Lynch and Bank of America.

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UPDATED: Homelessness ‘czar’? Maybe early next year


Several advocates suggested earlier this year that a position be created for a point person assigned exclusively to finding answers to homelessness in San Joaquin County. Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs added his voice to the discussion today with a letter to the Board of Supervisors that refers to the countywide task force that has been studying the homelessness issue.













The Supervisors are meeting today and tomorrow to pass the county budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year, which begins Saturday. A “Homelessness Czar” is not included in the proposed budget. Determining ongoing funding is at least part of the reason the position is not being created immediately. Supervisor Kathy Miller said today she is hoping the position can be added early next year.

“My primary concern is that we make it sustainable and get it right the first time,” Miller texted.

4:27 P.M. UPDATE: Miller called late this afternoon to say that work has indeed begun to draft a job description and to determine salary parameters for the position. She said the information will be presented to the county’s homelessness task force at its next meeting July 27.

“We are going to make sure it’s sustainable and that these efforts continue and the goal will be to have the position approved” by late 2017 and a homelessness czar on board early in 2018. Miller did stress one other thing: the word “czar” (or “czarina,” for that matter) will not be part of the job title.

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Miracle Mile building owner appeals city shutdown of his property

Anthony Vignolo, attorney for Christopher “Kit” Bennitt, has filed an appeal with the city over last week’s closure of the Empire Theatre building on the Miracle Mile:

“Bennitt protests the City’s finding of building and fire code violations at the Property. Specifically, Bennitt disputes the existence of the violations detailed in the Notice and Order, as well as the nature, scope, severity, and extent of those alleged violations.”

You can read the entire document here.

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Golf subsidy: Thumbs up or thumbs down?

The City Council will meet next Tuesday night and after hashing things out once more presumably pass Stockton’s 2017-18 budget, which takes effect July 1.

Mayor Michael Tubbs has been questioning for months the city’s inclusion of a six-figure subsidy for its Swenson and Van Buskirk golf courses. This morning, Tubbs’ office announced the mayor and Councilmen Dan Wright and Jesus Andrade will hold a town hall meeting at Van Buskirk from 5:30-7 this evening to discuss the matter.

Nothing like advance notice, eh?

Anyway, here’s the press release:

Stockton, (CA) – Mayor Michael Tubbs along with Councilmembers Jesus Andrade and Dan Wright will hold a town hall this evening to discuss city golf subsidies. In the Mayor’s state of the city he shared concerns about subsidizing golf to the tune of nearly $1 million a year in a city with so many other pressing needs.

Who: Mayor Michael Tubbs & Councilmembers Jesus Andrade & Dan Wright

What: City golf subsidy

When: Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Time: 5:30pm – 7:00pm

Location: Van Buskirk Community Center, 734 Houston Ave, Stockton, Ross Hall

What do you think? Vote in my poll on Twitter.

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Yes, the ‘Mobile City Hall’ is indeed being bought with General Fund dollars

The City Council unanimously approved spending $100,000 on a “Mobile City Hall” during  Tuesday night’s meeting.

According to the staff report from Tuesday’s meeting, there is “no impact to the City’s General Fund or to any other unrestricted fund” from purchasing the Mobile City Hall.

This is not to debate the merits (or demerits) of a Mobile City Hall. Opining is not my role here. But the staff report’s description of the funding source for the Mobile City Hall is cloudy at best.

As reported by The Record on May 25, 2015, a $100,000 allocation for a Mobile City Hall was included in the 2015-16 general fund budget. The city had just emerged from bankruptcy a couple of months earlier. Before the budget passed, The Record reported:

(City Manager Kurt) Wilson has suggested $100,000 for a “Mobile City Hall” — a recreational vehicle that could travel periodically with city staff to neighborhoods and businesses. The Mobile City Hall, Wilson said, would provide opportunities to help residents apply for jobs or process forms.

And it would provide a modest service increase for a city still struggling to provide for its residents in the early days of its post-bankruptcy era.

“We’re a large city,” Wilson said. “The idea is that we can go to the outskirts, places that don’t feel like they get enough attention, and maybe under that scenario we can take City Hall to them.

“It’s not going to change the world, but it’ll help us to reach people we wouldn’t normally reach. We fully acknowledge that the service level is not as high as we want it to be.”  

The $100,000 was not spent during the 2015-16 fiscal year. Instead, it was carried over to this fiscal year’s budget. Tuesday’s vote was to finally spend the money to purchase that “Mobile City Hall” — with general fund dollars.

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Sierra Club: More clarity needed to Council direction on General Plan

Eric Parfrey of the Sierra Club sent an email today to Mayor Michael Tubbs and the rest of the City Council in reference to the direction given to staff on Tuesday night concerning development of an amended General Plan.

The email from Parfrey essentially demands the final version of the amended General Plan, which probably won’t be complete for a year, makes it clear that there is to be no new development north of Eight Mile Road barring an extraordinary job-creation opportunity like a Tesla plant or a state university.

“We respectfully request that Councilman Holman and Mayor Tubbs clarify that the intent of the motion is to support Alternative C, which includes direction to shrink the Sphere of Influence back to Eight Mile Road, and to add one or more General plan policies that explicitly state the City will consider future amendments to the General Plan for development north of Eight Mile Road for extraordinary projects that reap huge and tangible benefits to the City.

“To be clear, we will vigorously oppose any attempt to retain the existing Sphere of Influence line which includes the Spanos lands north of Eight Mile Road. We hope that we will not have to organize public opposition to the new General Plan over this issue, but we are prepared to do so.”

You can read Parfrey’s entire email here.

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Translating the Silva arrest warrant

By now you’ve probably seen the arrest warrant for former Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva but if not, it’s below. Below the warrant, you can view all the penal codes.

















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Legal medical cannabis=Tax revenue

The City Council has a special meeting Tuesday night with an item that proposes setting a tax rate of $50 for every $1,000 of medical cannabis sales and cultivation. Stockton voters approved two medical cannabis-related measures in November. You can view Tuesday’s agenda here.

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Housing, jobs, safety, education: Have your say in District 2

District 2 Councilman Dan Wright will host a community forum for constituents Saturday. The meeting will focus on affordable housing, job creation, public safety, and educational opportunities. More details here.

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CPA Ned Leiba on Stockton’s fiscal health

CPA Ned Leiba, the shy and retiring sort who never shares his opinion, was not wild about this story yesterday, which cited a publication’s article ranking Stockton among America’s healthiest cities fiscally.

I’ll say off the bat that the article didn’t necessarily say Stockton is healthy — just that it’s healthier than a lot of other places right now. A person also could be one of the healthiest patients in a hospital, but that doesn’t mean he’s healthy, either, does it?

Anyway, here’s what Mr. Leiba wrote. He began by referring to this paragraph from my article:

“According to the city, the overall [pension] obligation is $343 million, $30 million more than a year ago. Some outside observers have expressed fear that all cities’ CalPERS obligations could balloon in an economic downturn.”

Then, Leiba wrote,

“Look at the 6/30/2016 CAFR and my comments that are cogent:

“The CAFR displays a staggering increase in unfunded pension liabilities. Per the statement of net position, the net liability is $449.3m versus $414.7m a year before. The one year increase in unfunded pension liabilities, after all the payments, was $34.7m.

“But the true unfunded pension liability is far higher than $449.3m. You must add the unfunded pension bonds. The city tells us that the present value of those bonds is only $53.7m. But you must increase this liability by the amount of “contingent general fund payments” that could be millions. Ignoring the millions of “continent” payments, just using the $53.6m results in an unfunded pension liability of $502.9m.

“But the City uses an unrealistic discount rate of 7.65% to value the pension liability. The CalPERS Board voted to reduce that 7.65% to 7.5% and now to 7%. The notes to the financial statements show the effect of a 1% change in discount rate. With just a 1% adjustments, the unfunded pension liabilities jump to $716.5m. A proper discount rate is a risk-free 3% or at most 4%, not 7.65% or 7.50% or 6.50. I estimate that the “true” unfunded pension liability using a proper 3% discount rate (as would be required under FASB rules) would be $1.495 billion. If we used the upper end of the risk free scale 4%, the liability would be a mere $1.282 billion.”

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