Archive | June, 2010

New Pacific City Owner Could Bring Project Changes

New Pacific City Owner Could Bring Project Changes

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

Pacific City has a new principal owner: Farallon Capital Management. Currently the project is in limbo, but it could be in for some plan changes, city officials say.

The limping, $850 million redevelopment project, approved by the Huntington Beach City Council in 2004, was supposed to be built by Makar Properties on 31.5 acres of downtown land bordered by Pacific Coast Highway, First Street and Atlanta Avenue.

Stalled mainly by financing problems that trickled down from the peak of the recent worldwide economic boom/bust, Pacific City could have been the proverbial City on the Hill—New Urbanism style—containing 512 condos on top of retail stores with a 165 room luxury boutique hotel and spa, plus a 12,000 square foot restaurant; in all, a model of smart local living for the economically advantaged and a Mecca for faithful tourists from around the world.

But the Pacific City property is currently a huge and unsightly pit, about half filled by the high walls of a giant, unfinished underground parking structure, while the rest of the land consists of a couple of paved streets, lots of weeds and scattered maintenance debris.

Like all redevelopment projects, Pacific City’s main purpose, as far as city planners and city council members are concerned, is to bring in more tax revenue for the city, especially during hard times that bring budget cuts and fewer city services.

parking structure parly built

The partly built parking structure for Pacific City, years behind schedule. Photo: SCV

The city had hoped to finance the estimated $23 million cost of a proposed senior center with required developer fees that are based on the project’s residential property values. The city assessed Makar $44 million in park fees, about half of which would be used for the senior center with the rest going for maintenance of other park facilities in the city. But the developer sued and the judge ruled that the correct fee assessment was $22 million.

City officials and public documents confirm that by mutual agreement between Makar and its lender, Canadian based Cadim Note Inc., the original $129,970,243 loan, along with major ownership of the project property, has been transferred over to Farallon Capital Management, a San Francisco based company and the 12th largest Hedge fund in the world. Farallon specializes in restructuring or recapitalizing high risk companies that are failing to pay their debts. Continue Reading

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Poseidon Desal Deal? Govt. May Rescue Junk Bond Project

Poseidon Desal Deal? Govt. May Rescue Junk Bond Project

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

Due to soaring cost estimates and lack of private financing for a proposed 50-million-gallon per day Carlsbad desalination project, a government water agency may negotiate a takeover deal with the project’s developer, Poseidon Resources, Inc.

Poseidon Resources is a budding multi-national water baron that also has an identical desalination plant in the dock for Huntington Beach, next to and functionally linked with the AES power plant, on Pacific Coast Highway and Newland Avenue.

What happens in Carlsbad will indicate what could be in store for the Huntington Beach project and residents of our city as well.

The $650 million Carlsbad project would have supplied 56,000 acre feet of drinking water per year to nine of 24 San Diego County water districts under the umbrella of the San Diego County Water Authority (CWA).

But the cost of water derived from the desalination plant will be much higher than previously stated and it would take $630 million in combined public subsidy funds paid in yearly installments over 25-30 years to make the “private” project financially viable, according to a memo written by Oceanside city manager, Peter A. Weiss.

Oceanside is one of the nine water districts, known collectively as The Desal Partners, which had signed water purchasing agreements with Poseidon.

Due to Poseidon’s financing troubles and needed word changes, however, those agreements had to be revised before the project could proceed. But only one member, the city of Carlsbad, has signed a revised contract so far.

“In the past few months it has become apparent that Poseidon’s cost of water is going to be greater than originally proposed,” the memo states. “To make the project viable, Poseidon needs subsidies from the San Diego County Water Authority and Metropolitan Water District (MWD)”, the memo continues.

The CWD is a member of the MWD, which supplies water to 26 southern California water agencies. Continue Reading

Posted in Poseidon5 Comments

Eric Kufs: Surf City Voice Artist of the Month

Eric Kufs: Surf City Voice Artist of the Month

By John Earl
Surf City Voicee

Eric Kufs, folk singer, is the Surf City Voice artist of the month. Kufs performs in downtown Huntington Beach on Main St. most Tuesdays from 6-9 pm. He dishes out his own original, catchy, and sometimes blues-like, folk songs with a great countertenor voice, guitar, and wit. He sings all the pop tunes too and knows how to entertain, but isn’t afraid to play uncensored Woody Guthrie, even behind the Orange Curtain, and realizes that, in the end, it’s all about the music. As this video shows, Kufs takes (usually well) a few punches that come with being a busker; but, above all, he lifts the art of folk music to a higher level, making him the best folk singer, and one of the best performers, in the three-year history of Surf City Nights. Like Guthrie riding the rails, Kufs travels the busker circuit from Santa Monica to downtown Huntington Beach and does gigs across the country with his equally eclectic band, Common Rotation.

A full profile will follow.

Posted in Video1 Comment

City Charter Review: What should be on the agenda?

City Charter Review: What should be on the agenda?

First part of an ongoing series of video and written reports that will appear between now and election time (November) about the city charter review process and how it could affect Huntington Beach residents. In this second section (see Mark Bixby, first section), committee member and chair person Dick Harlow talks about his reasons for trying to or not trying to get various issues placed on the ballot for consideration by Huntington Beach residents in November. This interview was conducted by John Earl of the Surf City Voice in Jan. 2010 at city hall after one of the review committee meetings had finished.

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City Charter Review: What should be on the agenda?

City Charter Review: What should be on the agenda?

First part of an ongoing series of video and written reports that will appear between now and election time (November) about the city charter review process and how it could affect Huntington Beach residents. In this first section, committee member Mark Bixby talks about his reasons for trying to or not trying to get various issues placed on the ballot for consideration by Huntington Beach residents in November. This interview was conducted by John Earl of the Surf City Voice in Jan. 2010 at city hall after one of the review committee meetings had finished.

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Americans, with 100 ‘energy servants’ each, share blame for Gulf oil spill

Americans, with 100 ‘energy servants’ each, share blame for Gulf oil spill

By Sarah (Steve) Mosko
Special to the Surf City Voice

There’s no shortage of finger pointing as the now worst oil spill in U.S. history continues its assault on the Gulf Coast’s ecology and economy.

A USA TODAY/Gallop Poll taken in late May, for example, found that 73 percent of Americans feel that British Petroleum (BP) is doing a ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ job of handling the crisis, and 60 percent evaluated the federal government’s response in the same unfavorable terms.

Confronted with images of birds swathed in crude oil and prognostications that the Gulf region’s fishing and tourism industries might never recover, the urge to form a posse,

Gulf-oiled pelicans awaiting clean up. Photo courtesy of IBRRC.

so to speak, to rout out those responsible and hold them accountable is all too human.

But are we Americans shocked enough yet by the enormity of this calamity to own up to our personal role in it?  After all, it’s ultimately our nation’s energy-intense lifestyle and attachment to fossil fuels that gives companies like BP and our government the implicit go-ahead to pursue oil at the risk of the very kind of disaster now ensuing.

Unless you’re a physicist or energy wonk of some sort, hearing that the average yearly per-capita energy consumption in the United States in 2008 was 337 million Btu probably tells you little about your energy footprint. Knowing that a Btu is an energy standard equivalent to 252 calories – about what’s contained in a Snickers candy bar – is probably of little help either.

That’s why Professor of Physics Richard Wolfson of Middlebury College has been giving demonstrations for the last decade which impart a real gut-level, hands-on feel for the energy it takes to support the typical American lifestyle.

His demonstration is simple but ingenious. A volunteer is asked to turn a hand crank which, through a geared system, drives an electric generator connected to two 100-watt incandescent light bulbs.

The upshot is that a typical person can turn the crank fast enough to light one 100-watt light bulb, but not two. To add to the muscular feel for the effort required to turn the crank, Wolfson points out that it takes roughly the same energy output as doing deep knee bends at a rate of one per second. Continue Reading

Posted in Energy, Environment1 Comment

Free the Bolsa Chica Mesa Now? Not likely, but there’s always ‘purposeful grading’

Free the Bolsa Chica Mesa Now? Not likely, but there’s always ‘purposeful grading’

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

The upper Bolsa Chica mesa’s mile-long ridge demonstrates the mixed grandeur of the Surf City region with a wide view of the Santa Ana river basin below, where the largest wetlands restoration project in California is locked between urban sprawl and the Pacific Ocean.

The mesa has changed a lot since its first human settlers arrived over 9,000 years ago to create the Acjahemen Nation. Soon, it will change again by the hands of a more powerful, corporate, nation.

Parts of the mesa have revealed some of the most important archaeological discoveries made in America. More discoveries are sure to come, archeologists say, but their exact locations and how to best preserve them are in dispute. Buried somewhere on its northeast corner, in the area of two undeveloped side by side lots, are the only remaining accessible human records of its mysterious past.

To many Native Americans, the entire area is a holy site that should be left alone out of respect for their ancestors. “That whole area was a major village [with] a high concentration of everyday life activity,” Tongva tribal leader Anthony Morales told the Voice in 2008.

The Tongva are the descendants of the second wave of human inhabitants of the Bolsa Chica mesa. They started arriving between 2,000 and 3,500 years ago. The Ajachemen and Tongva consider the site to be very spiritual and sacred.

Native Americans protest Brightwater on the upper Bolsa Chica mesa. Photo: Surf City Voice

For California Coastal Communities, the bankrupt but legal owner of one of the lots and the representative for the owner of the other (both lots are located on the SE corner of Bosla Chica Rd. and Los Patos Ave.), development of the corner may provide some of the financial salvation, if not the spiritual or scientific enlightenment, that it needs. Continue Reading

Posted in Environment2 Comments


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