Down on South A Street below Highway 12 right about where South A meets Santa Rosa Avenue, there are two property owners. One is Jim Bennett, the owner of a small, pristine, previously owned BMW dealership called Good Stuff. Jim is pretty good stuff himself, a fine trustworthy straight-shooter, who took part in the lawsuit to stop the fraudulent Gateways Redevelopment project. When we lost that lawsuit and appealed and lost again, Jim's property, which was in the 1,100 acre project area, was in jeopardy. It's a small property, triangular in shape with great frontage and visibility on Santa Rosa Avenue and access from South A Street in back. I said there's another property owner too. That one is on the other side of South A Street, across from Good Stuff. It's owned by a couple of guys who developed the Nissan dealership there and want to put a Kia dealership on some land just north of them, also across from Good Stuff. Ok, so what? It's a free country.
But here's the deal. The Nissan/Kia guys want Jim's property. They've been eyeing it because it has such terrific long frontage on Santa Rosa Avenue, and great visibility. So what did they do? They told the City that they wanted the street, South A Street, to be part of their property and would the City give it to them? At first the City, smelling money from the development of Kia, said yes. Then they looked at the original deeds and discovered that they were going to have to give half (up to the center line) to Jim and half to Nissan/Kia. But wait, they decided that the end of the street where it meets Santa Rosa Avenue could be sold directly to Nissan/Kia, even though it touches Jim's property too, and that Jim wouldn't have any chance to buy it.
Not only that, but all of the many property owners on South A Street, including an ambulance service, would hit a dead end instead of being able to drive down South A and out to Santa Rosa Avenue. They'll have to take a left and sit at a long light on Barham. All of those small businesses, all of those longtime business people, those hard working, tax paying, decent Santa Rosans will lose their access, and be hurt.
But they're in a redevelopment area and have lost their property rights. Yes, if someone else can generate more property taxes on your property than you can they get the green light. And that's the plan for Jim's property---when Nissan/Kia decides to drop the ax. That's how redevelopment works. Nissan/Kia wants Jim's property and the city can get it for them. Meanwhile, the city will do what they can to hurt Jim's land value so it won't cost them as much when they do decide to take Jim by eminent domain.
The City Council showed their disregard for citizens tonight. They didn't flinch when they were called shameless. Their attorneys smirked at the mention of the law. In the New Feudalism of Santa Rosa big money talks. The Nissan/Kia guys hired an old retired city manager to rub shoulders and make the deal for them. The city attorney shook their hands at the end of the night. The city planners were working for Nissan/Kia. The police and fire mumbled that they didn't mind having their traffic pattern changed. The vision of semi-trucks and delivery vehicles backed up at the light didn't phase them. The 'traffic study' was from 2007, was outdated and didn't reflect the ambulance service or the dealership traffic, but the City ignored that.
This was a sham, a shame, and shirking of responsibility by the City. Prostititution appears to be legal in Santa Rosa. Just ask the Council.