Now that I’ve had a few days to speak with several elected officials, stakeholders, and residents, there is little doubt that the Discovery Bay Community Services District (CSD) needs to slow down and take a second look at what they are about to propose with the athletic center.
If the CSD wants to give this community center the best shot possible going forward (it will go for a parcel tax at some point), they can’t make it look they are funding an athletic club through a subsidy.
Instead, open it up to every Discovery Bay resident for the 120-day period. Anyone who wishes to use the facility living outside Discovery Bay, charge them the fee. This will allow the CSD to then determine if the athletic club can be self-sustaining going forward.
Let me preference by saying that I’m fan of a community center, I believe Discovery Bay needs a community center and has waited long enough for one, but only if it’s done right. Attaching an athletic club within the 7.4 acre plan while charging membership fees is not doing this right and it needs to be scrapped immediately!
For starters, the Hoffman Company funds are now in jeopardy which has been held in escrow since the early 1990’s. The original idea before the community center was for it to be majority-funded by the developer, not 100% the community.
Hopefully what the community and CSD will recall is that the CSD is the third party in this process. Dating back to the early 1990s, the Hoffman Company was to provide the land and half the cost of construction—that was it. This was actually a county imposed condition of approval to build Discovery Bay as part of the development agreement.
Instead of following that early agreement, the CSD has appears to have gone out on their own to provide a service to the community. While admirable, there is still no agreement between Hoffman Company and the County which could put the project at risk.
If neither the county or Hoffman Company like where the CSD is headed going forward, the funds then could become marginalized. CSD would then essentially forfeit the land and half the cost of construction and then becomes a 100% community funded project with a larger parcel tax in the coming years.
While the community center could still work out, going forward “just because” is not very bright because the cost then skyrockets. Instead of the community getting a center at 25-cents on the dollar, it could be assumed Discovery Bay will be paying 1.25 or higher on the dollar. The county and developer are now is also removed from the equation and funding gone—meaning so are 75 percent of the project costs.
Here is the Project Overview:
- Land= 50 percent,
- Building (Structure)= 50 percent
- Hoffmann Company is currently on the hook for 100 percent of the land (50 percent of entire project) AND 50 percent of Building (Structure) which would be (25 percent of entire project cost). Ultimately, the Hofmann Company was on the hook for 75 percent of the Total Cost under the original agreement.
Should the CSD move forward, that funding may become jeopardized.
The other issue is the commingling of funds which is not even being addressed. There are multiple districts for recreation within Discovery Bay, but CSD feels obliged to only take from one (Zone 8). They are then calling this a “community benefit”.
Calling that a “community benefit” is not really logical because the athletic club is a pay to play facility—only members can use it, not the entire community.
Unfortunately for the CSD, that’s illegal under Proposition 218. CSD are not allowed to commingle money under the law as funds must be used for what they are approved for and services provided.
Aside from Proposition 218, then there is simple common sense that says recreation does not include running a private athletic club subsidized by using taxpayer dollars. Not to mention, the reality which says the recreation portion of the community center was never meant for an athletic club.
Recreation has to do with different types of programs which everyone could enjoy and participate in without membership—instead, 250 or so members under Zone 8 funding get subsidized.
While recreation may charge a fee to participate, that is a world of difference than a membership fee which the athletic club is charging. To get around this, simply open up the club for no membership to all residents of Discovery Bay since you are taking Zone 8 tax dollars.
Try it out for the 120-days to get the community buy in on the project instead of alienating residents who ultimately will vote on a parcel tax at some point. This will also highlight if the CSD should continue down the athletic club business path or to scrap it and use the building for something else.
The CSD made a great error in judgment on the athletic club no matter how great it may be for future use, the law says they can’t do it.
If the CSD is dead set on this athletic center as a community benefit, then they need to lose the “membership” for Discovery Bay residents and open it up to everyone with residents outside of Discovery Bay paying a membership fee. Only then could it be truly classified as a community benefit.
The CSD still has time to tweak this plan to allow this to pass the smell test because right now this one stinks as is.