By Shawn Raymundo
A vote on whether the Rancho San Clemente Business Park Association will sell its unused open space land to a homeless advocacy group will be delayed by a month, as park leadership this week intends to resend ballots to all of its members—some of whom didn’t receive the appropriate number of ballots the first time around.
The business park and Emergency Shelter Coalition (ESC) are currently in escrow for the pair of parcels that encompass 10 acres of open space land located along Avenida Pico, where the nonprofit intends to develop a homeless shelter.
Bob Adams, president of the Rancho San Clemente Business Park, acknowledged that not every business owner received the correct number of ballots to vote on the sale when they were sent out late last month.
“We’re probably going to work on it and get (the ballots) out this week,” Adams said on Monday, Oct. 28. “What I want to do this time is make sure we send it out to the right people. It’s a major deal, so let’s make sure we get it right. But we should be getting those out this week or trying to.”
At least a two-thirds majority of owners within the business park must agree on the transaction in order for the Coalition to purchase the property, which the business park is selling for $19,500.
Adams had previously explained that the Business Park is comprised of 182 parcels or buildings, and, therefore, 182 ballots should have been mailed out to the various business owners. Because some business owners have multiple buildings, they’ll be able to cast multiple votes.
On Monday, Adams noted that some of the buildings had been converted into condos, so those buildings get divided up and sold like an office.
“So we found that several people are in a condo we were unaware of,” Adams said.
The ballots were initially due back to the Association by Oct. 30, but with the new ballots being sent out, the business park members will have another 30 days to decide on the sale and recast their votes, Adams said.
“We have to do it according to law, so it’ll be pushed out another 30 days,” Adams said, noting that he’s working with the Association’s attorneys on the matter. “From whenever it goes out, they’ll have 30 days.”
The initial ballots that already have been returned, Adams said, will be kept sealed and not counted toward the final vote.
Another factor that played into the Association’s decision to reinitiate the voting process was a factual error contained in the initial cover letter attached to the ballots mailed out on Sept. 30, Adams said.
In the original cover letter, the Association incorrectly states that the parcels are located within the city of San Clemente’s Emergency Shelter Overlay zone, or the SB 2 zone—a reference to Senate Bill 2, the state legislation that requires local municipalities to come up with a plan for providing access for homeless shelters.
While the business park itself makes up a portion of the Overlay zone, the two parcels of land being sold are just outside of it, sitting on the north side of Pico, across the Calle del Cerro intersection. A condition of the potential sale agreement is a guarantee from the nonprofit that it won’t develop a homeless shelter within the main part of the business park.
The two parcels have an appraised value of $12,000, which the Association acknowledged is a low appraisal because of open restrictions. The Association has opined that the parcels cost an average of $20,000 annually to maintain and don’t provide any “economic benefit.” Since news of the potential sale to the Coalition broke, the city and Olen Commercial Properties have expressed interest in purchasing the property should the current sale agreement with the nonprofit fall through.
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.