By Shawn Raymundo
The pending sale of open space land along Avenida Pico that’s being proposed as a possible site for an emergency homeless shelter has attracted two other prospective buyers—the city of San Clemente and Olen Commercial Properties.
The Rancho San Clemente Business Park Association and the Emergency Shelter Coalition are currently in escrow for two parcels that total 10 acres. The Association is looking to offload the property, selling it to the nonprofit organization for $19,500.
However, if the sale falls through at the end of the month, the city has expressed interest in purchasing the property, according to City Manager James Makshanoff.
“I think that if the Business Park property fell out of escrow that we would definitely entertain the possibility of buying it if the Business Park was interested in that,” Makshanoff told the San Clemente Times by phone on Monday, Oct. 14.
Makshanoff said that should the city acquire the parcels, there’s consideration to turn it into a conservation easement, potentially voiding one of the Transportation Corridor Agencies’ proposed toll road extension options.
“I think part of the issue for turning it into a conservation easement is that it would also aid us in our battle of the toll road, because (the TCA talks) about coming down Pico Canyon,” Makshanoff said.
Late last month, the Association’s board sent its members ballots with a cover letter encouraging them to vote in favor of the sale to the Coalition, which is looking to develop a homeless shelter on the property located on the north side of Pico, opposite Calle del Cerro.
The two parcels have an appraised value of $12,000, which the Association acknowledged is a low appraisal because of open space restrictions. The Association has opined that the parcels cost an average of $20,000 annually to maintain and don’t provide any “economic benefit.”
“We want to get rid of it; it’s a liability to the Business Park,” said Bob Adams, president of the Rancho San Clemente Business Park.
Adams explained that the Business Park comprises 182 parcels or buildings, meaning 182 ballots were sent out to the various business owners. Some business owners, he noted, have multiple buildings, so many will hold multiple votes. In order for the sale to go through, it needs a two-thirds majority approval.
The potential sale agreement between the Association and the Coalition comes with a guarantee that the nonprofit wouldn’t develop a homeless shelter within the main part of the Business Park—a major selling point for the Association to its members, as the Business Park currently occupies a portion in the city’s Emergency Shelter Overlay Zone.
To comply with the state’s mandate under Senate Bill 2, which requires local municipalities to come up with a plan for providing homeless shelter access, the city, back in 2016, identified the Business Park as a section in the Overlay, where emergency shelters can operate. The Overlay zone, or SB2 zone, allows as many as 70 shelter beds for the homeless.
According to both Adams and Glenn Walker of Walker Insurance Solutions, LLC, which has offices located in the Business Park, Olen Properties has also thrown its name into consideration to purchase the land.
“I’d feel more comfortable if the city took it back . . . but Olen said they’d pay for it and not develop it,” said Walker, who has been staunchly opposed to the potential sale with the Coalition while campaigning for others in the Business Park to vote against it.
Olen currently owns a few properties in San Clemente, including the Amanecer Business Park, Pacific Point Corporate Centre and the San Clemente Village Center.
As of press time, Olen had not returned a call from SC Times for comment.
According to Adams, Olen has offered to pay $20,000 for the property.
“Now we have another offer from a company that will give us $20,000. . . . They put it in writing that they’d like to buy it,” Adams said.
Adams also said “we have other people now who want to buy it . . . but at the end of the day, I think the Business Park is going to accomplish what it wants to accomplish.”
Though the city is now interested in purchasing the property, the Association and Adams pointed out there have been talks throughout the years to sell the parcels to the city, but those talks never amounted to an actual sale.
“We offered it to the city years ago, and they turned it down,” Adams said, referring to the parcels, which were granted to the Association for free as a resolution trust in 1996.
“It was never told to us you can never do a damn thing. It isn’t in the Business Park . . . so we needed to get rid of it, and we’ve had a problem and this has been an ongoing issue that we have been trying to get rid of this property,” Adams said, adding, “We’ve talked to the city now for over 10 years over this—maybe even longer.”
Days before the Association sent out the ballots, Adams said he showed Makshanoff the cover letter, to which Makshanoff then asked if they would be willing to sell it to the city.
“I said we’ve always offered it to the city,” Adams recalled.
The ballots were sent out on Sept. 30 and are to be returned by Oct. 30.
Shawn Raymundo is the city editor for the San Clemente Times. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies. Before joining Picket Fence Media, he worked as the government accountability reporter for the Pacific Daily News in the U.S. territory of Guam. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnzyTsunami and follow San Clemente Times @SCTimesNews.