Mar 6 2011

Opinion: No Rent Lease to be Offered on 801 Magnolia?

A Letter urging consistent treatment of leases under City policy

Dear City Council Members,

I see that Mr. Grote has recommended you consider a no-rent 10-year lease proposal from a private organization for exclusive use of the City-owned property at 801 Magnolia. I applaud the effort to convert this vacant building into a community asset. However, as you know, the 801 Magnolia building has many deferred maintenance and code compliance issues, and the Civic Center Master Plan calls for the eventual demolition of this building and its replacement with a plaza and a new building.

I am concerned that this private group, which proposes to pay no cash rent, may make alterations to the building that might be objectionable to some members of the community. For example, they might install risers in the auditorium that do not meet competitive standards for choir competitions, or select an unattractive paint color, carpet or roofing material that offends some community members’ aesthetic sensibilities. It is clearly important to the Council to protect the public from any alterations to publicly owned property that anyone might object to in the future, or from any liability or inconvenience due to work performed in a less than first-class manner.

Given Council Members Fujioka and Wieler’s concerns about protecting the City from the lease arrangements that had been in effect for 46 years at the Piedmont Swim Club, I will expect that any lease you enter into with a private organization at 801 Magnolia will provide for the following:

1. Any improvements, upgrades, maintenance or repairs to the premises, no matter how minor, must be done by a licensed and bonded contractor approved by the City according to plans and specifications approved in advance by the City.

2. The tenant must agree to indemnify, protect and defend the City against any and all allegations or claims related to the tenant’s use of the premises.

3. A minimum of 750 annual hours of use must be provided the Piedmont Unified School District at no charge to the district – of which at least 375 annual hours would be exclusive use by the School District with no access to the facility for the lessor.

4. A minimum annual contribution¬† of at least $33,333 must be made by the lessor to a capital improvement fund, to be administered by the City, which must revert to the City at the conclusion of the lease. No disbursements from this fund should be allowed for any reason without the City’s prior written consent.

5. The City must insist on the right to require any physical changes to be made the premises at any time, regardless of expense, and if the lessor fails to make these changes within 5 days, the City must have the right to make the changes itself, at the tenant’s expense.

Based on your records, I am sure you will agree that these sensible provisions are absolutely necessary to prevent the citizens of Piedmont from incurring harm at the hands of this private organization seeking the exclusive use of public property.

Thank you for your consideration.


Timothy Rood
(This letter expresses the personal opinions of the author. All statements made are the opinion of the writer and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.)

One Response to “Opinion: No Rent Lease to be Offered on 801 Magnolia?”

  1. Excellent points. I’d add insurance for chlorine contamination of the ground water…they might have a bottle of bleach on the premise.

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