I’m still thinking about the land deal that we wrote about the other day in Privileged few.
The result of the deal is, I think, a good solution. The city continues to have two easements on the property, one being for sidewalks and the other for utilities. The property has no apparent value to anyone other than the building owners. The community will benefit from the improvements that the owners have promised to make.
The part that bothers me is how they did it. A city council member asked that the item be taken out of order from the agenda, presumably because the owner’s representative was more important than the other people waiting to be considered by city council. The public never heard the owner’s name. It is a high profile one–one that has been at the center of several controversies lately.
The property was sold for $10. You can argue that it is worthless to anyone other than the owner but that would just be an argument. An appraisal should have been done and the property should have been sold for the appraised amount. By itself the property is probably of little value but combined with the buildings it adjoins it is probably worth more.
Some will argue that the way it was handled was the most efficient one. In this case we should not be talking about efficiency. Instead the focus should be on public perception. If the deal had been for the fair market value of the land and the item had been handled in order from the agenda, the citizens would have seen a city government acting transparently and responsibly. Instead we have the stigma of another special interest getting their way.
It seems to me that they ignored two of the city’s stated goals:
Doing this deal the right way would not have cost much money or time. The owners would have done their reputation some good.
We deserve better