Upland To Dispose Of Half Acre Near Downtown

Over the objections of some city residents, the Upland City Council this week cleared the way to divest itself of a half-acre near its downtown district.
At least three anomalies attended the action, however, which include the city having maximized the density of the development to take place on the land, failing to specify precisely why it chose the purchaser it did over a competing offer, and failing to disclose the financial terms of the sale, i.e., the selling price of the property.
The property in question, identified as Assessor’s Parcel Number 1046-433-25, consists of 0.49 acres located at the southwest corner of Washington Boulevard and 6th Avenue. The staff report relating to the proposed sale makes no mention of how the city was previously making use of the property or how it came into the city’s possession.
On August 10, 2020, the city adopted a resolution declaring the property surplus. The staff report states, “[T]he City no longer needs the property for its own purposes.”
In accordance with the Surplus Land Act, in August 2020 the city transmitted notices of availability for the property to all parties it was required by law to notify, including the state Department of Housing and Community Development. The city received two letters of interest for the property during the waiting period required by law, but neither potential purchaser submitted a fully completed project proposal nor was willing to pay fair market value for the property, which, according to the city, rendered those proposals inconsistent with the requirements of the Surplus Land Act.
With the statutory window on its original notice of availability having elapsed, the city on January 6, 2022 issued a request for proposals to identify other interested purchasers, resulting in two responses. One of those was from Crestwood Communities to develop six single-family attached row homes on the property. Another came in from Gibson Construction to develop an 8-unit apartment complex. Without offering the rationale for having rejected Crestwood Communities’ offer, the staff report states, “The city selected Gibson Construction’s proposal, and has now negotiated a substantially final purchase and sale agreement.”
The city did not include a copy of the purchase and sale agreement in the packet of information released in conjunction with the agenda for Monday night’s meeting and nowhere in the report is there a disclosure of the purchase price offered by Gibson nor a disclosure of Crestwood’s offer.
In placing the item on the agenda for Monday night’s meeting, city officials included the resolution of the intention to sell the property on the consent calendar, a litany of matters considered to be noncontroversial which are voted upon with a single vote, with the separate actions not distinguished from one another.
An Upland resident and a co-founder of People For Upland Parks, Natasha Walton, addressed the city council ahead of that vote, stating, “I ask that you tonight seriously consider preserving as much of the remaining city-owned land as possible to become park land. In particular, please do not sell the public land being discussed under Item 10 B tonight. This parcel, which is approximately .4 acres south of Washington Boulevard and West of Sixth Avenue, could be developed into a public park, using money from the city’s park development fund and/or funding that may soon be available. The parcel discussed under Item 10 B is located in an area in southeast Upland where recently approved and newly-planned housing developments will be requiring more open spaces for recreation. Having a dedicated city park on a parcel adjacent to the Pacific Electric Trail would not only be a wonderful addition near the Upland historical district but would also allow a large portion of the walking and cycling community easy access to another city park. Once our public land is gone, it is gone. As we increase the housing density on privately owned lands, we must be able to provide for more open spaces on our public lands. If we let our public lands disappear, our city will not be able to provide new parks and preserve the quality of life that Upland residents should be able to enjoy.”
Despite Walton’s entreaty, the council unanimously voted to approve the consent calendar.
-Mark Gutglueck

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