San Leandro approves Monarch Bay agreement, but officials voice displeasure with developer

Rendering of the proposed Monarch Bay development at the San Leandro marina.

After yet another series of setbacks, San Leandro’s long-anticipated development of its marina appears back on track. The San Leandro City Council approved a development agreement with Cal-Coast Companies, LLC on Monday night, but not without a number of councilmembers admonishing the developer for making a late revision to the proposed deal.

San Leandro beatSan Leandro officials were already concerned about the inability of the developer to reach an agreement on a Project Labor Agreement with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Alameda County last month for the development, known as Monarch Bay. The project includes more than 500 housing units, a 200-room hotel, restaurants, office space, a rebuilt executive golf course, and new Mulford Gardens library.

Councilmembers voiced support for the development agreement last February but made their final approval for the project on the condition the developer agreed to terms with the building trades within one month. The Mar. 25 deadline, however, came and went to the displeasure of some councilmembers. A Letter of Intent between both sides, however, was signed shortly after the deadline.

These last-minute things do not suit well with me.-San Leandro Councilmember Pete Ballew

But officials offered uncommonly strong public criticism against Cal-Coast President Ed Miller on Monday night after he sought to make last-minute changes to the project agreement, known as a Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA).

The agreement originally called for Cal-Coast to pay a refundable $300,000 deposit to the city. Miller, however, asked to amend the agreement to include an upfront payment of $30,000, followed by $270,000 within 90 days.

“These last-minute things do not suit well with me,” San Leandro Councilmember Pete Ballew said. “There seems to be a pattern with Cal-Coast. I don’t do business like that.” In February, it was Ballew who called for Cal-Coast to come to an agreement with the building trades council before the council approved the Monarch Bay DDA.

The city stands to lose little by agreeing to Miller’s request for a smaller deposit, San Leandro City Manager Jeff Kay said. Either the project is built and the city prospers or it doesn’t, he reasoned.

However, the principle of the matter appeared to rankle San Leandro elected officials.

“It’s important for us to work together in good faith,” Councilmember Corina Lopez said. Miller’s request blind-sided her late Monday afternoon, she added. “It’s not appropriate to get an email a couple hours before open session.”

“As a courtesy, I ask personally, that you do this with some notice. We want to see this happen, but not this way, and have it happen again and again,” Lopez said.

Miller defended his request on Monday night, asking councilmembers to grant him some leeway based on more than a decade of work to bring the marina project to fruition.

“I’ve been working on this for months. I do not negotiate the way some of you are speaking about. It’s not us. It’s not me,” Miller said, before adding, “It’s an accommodation for someone who has been at this 11 years, and 6 months.”

Miller said legal fees associated with finalizing a deal with the building trades cost Cal-Coast an additional $48,000. The developer also spent additional funds on further soil testing at the marina site. “We have never shirked our responsibility,” he declared.