The studies would be funded by $70,000 in community development block grants (CDBG) and matching county funds, said Matt Perry, the county's chief deputy administrative officer. Another $70,000 in planning and technical assistance economic development allocation grants, plus county matches, would fund studies on strategies for revitalizing downtown Upper Lake, a redevelopment analysis of Clark's Island in Clearlake Oaks, the Lucerne Hotel study and research on ways to put unused pear sheds to a new purpose.
The total amount for the studies would be $147,000, said Perry, including $7,000 in matching funds from the county. Requests will be put out for consultants to do the studies, he said, with the grant applications expected to be in the mail today.
The board approved two resolutions directing staff to make applications for the CDBG and economic development funds. Regarding the economic development application, Supervisor Rob Brown was the only dissenting voice, citing concerns over the county studying uses for private property that it didn't own, as in the case of the Lucerne Hotel and the pear sheds.
Overall, the board was pleased with the applications. Supervisor Jeff Smith said grouping the studies together will give the county “a bigger bang for the buck.”
He added that the county needs to be proactive in pursuing job opportunities, and the studies are one way to do that. He called the project “an investment in the future of Lake County.”
Supervisor Ed Robey said he understood Brown's concerns, but that he also was looking at long-term benefits for the community. “That's why I think it's worth doing,” he said.
Domestic violence shelter, $20,000
This $20,000 study would consider property acquisition for the shelter project, which Lake Family Resource Center is spearheading. Perry said the study would be completed by March 2008.
Gloria Flaherty, Lake Family Resource Center's executive director, said they can get the study done for $20,000 because much of the “foundational support work” and research for the study has already been done. Flaherty thanked the board and county staff for the support with the study.
“Our intent is to make this a true community-based project,” she said. LFRC is talking with the City of Lakeport about the project and also plans to approach the City of Clearlake, she said.
Flaherty added that she doesn't feel that's it's appropriate to expect the county to fund the entire project. “It's rare to hear that tack,” said Board Chair Anthony Farrington.
“The domestic violence shelter is an obligation that we have,” said Supervisor Rob Brown. “We can't do it quick enough.”
Lucerne Hotel mixed-used feasibility study, $46,500
Slated for completed in September 2008, this study will be funded by both CDBG and economic development funds, Perry said. It will consider mixed-uses for the facility that include senior housing and visitor lodging, and gather information about the building's structural integrity and suitability for the outlined uses.
Brown raised concerns about doing a study, asking how the owners, CastlePoint Ministries, feel about the county exploring uses for its property.
“They're willing to sell it,” said County Administrative Officer Kelly Cox. “They're not advertising to sell it.”
The only public comment during the hearing came from Lucerne resident Donna Christopher, who said that it was the first redevelopment issue regarding Lucerne that didn't have her "rolling on the floor in laughter."
Christopher said she wasn't sure about using the facility for senior housing, citing parking concerns. Renovations could also end up being extremely costly.
Lucerne's water issue is also a limiting factor, she said, and one that is going to come back and bite the county “in the behind.”
Upper Lake downtown revitalization, $18,250
This study will consider ways to eliminate blight conditions and increase commercial activity in Upper Lake, said Perry, and is expected to be completed by June 2008.
Of all the studies, Perry said, this one “has the most potential to go awry, like the Clearlake Oaks study did.”
As a result, he said there will be a series of community meetings – about three in all – to gather input from community members and property owners, and then to take back to them a final proposal.
“The community has a lot more involvement in the process,” he said.
Pear shed conversion study, $18,500
This economic development study will consider what possible new uses for pear packing facilities in the Finley area that are now closed or underutilized. Study completion is scheduled for March 2008.
Perry said this is an opportunity to inventory equipment, identify job creation opportunities and discover market potential for other ag uses for the properties.
This study, Perry said after the meeting, also would include input from potential investors, owners and other stakeholders.
Brown said he didn't see any pear shed owners at the meeting, and voiced his belief that it's their responsibility to find other uses for their property. He also said that many government regulations on pear sheds make it difficult to covert the sheds to other uses, which was the case with an acquaintance who tried to sell their shed.
“Until we start working on these government regulations and restrictions on private property, this study isn't going to help at all,” he said.
Farrington reminded Brown that the county has met with pear shed owners and that planning staff is willing to reconsider zoning regulations. “There's definitely been a dialogue,” Farrington said.
Handicapped accessibility evaluation, $16,750
Also scheduled for completion in March 2008, this study will look at how accessible county properties and services are for those with disabilities.
Brown said he thought this was "a good investment,” and will save the county money from possible lawsuits.
Clark's Island study, $20,000
This $20,000 study, to be completed in September 2008, will determine the feasibility of the county acquiring the property, relocating residents and developing an area for marina-related commercial businesses.
E-mail Elizabeth Larson at [email protected]