(Following is a letter the author intends to present to the Bishop City Council later this month. –Ed.)
Attention: Bishop City Council Members
Subject: New Courthouse Proposal
I am somewhat dismayed and seriously concerned that you are considering approval of this proposal. I sincerely hope that it proves to be a consideration only and not an approval.
Following are my reasons of concern. I hope you take the time to read all of them. I would certainly welcome the opportunity to discuss them further with any of you.
1. I did not like or appreciate the hardcore sales type of their presentation of their proposal. I couldn’t help getting the feeling that to them it was an easy sell/done deal. There were too many words like “we will” instead of “we would” and it was for “their” convenience. They even had the time schedules and completion dates. All of these before there has been any City Council approval? I was rather insulted by their attitude as they seemed impervious to anything being said against their proposal. It was just as though they were going through the motions of another required public hearing on a matter that was already decided. It was just too heavy on how convenient it was for them and not a word on any inconvenience it was going to create for this community.
2. Parking Issues
Their parking “studies” were a pathetic Sacramento Google Search computer-generated farce. The car parking spaces in the entire community (for whatever reason) was just an estimated guess of the average car length per so many feet. I doubt if it took into consideration fire hydrants or driveways. Examples of their errors are High School Drive. They show 14 spaces – there is not any parking on that driveway. Court Place shows 9 spaces, and that is not a dedicated street. (It is actually a private driveway.)
a) They would displace 55 spaces;
b) They would furnish only 22;
c) They would require a minimum of 56 spaces during jury trials;
d) In their one-day, one-hour survey they show 54 spaces being used. This was on a day when high school was not in session.
e) They claim that nearby parking on city streets can make up any extra spaces needed (assuming, I presume, that they are always vacant and accessible).
f) They make no mention of the 24 spaces eliminated by the “landscape link” which includes the fire department and existing courthouse employees parking. They showed a lot of audacity doing this since that area is not part of the proposed sale.
The owner of McMurry’s and Ken Lloyd both made great presentations with their parking surveys that told it as it really is.
The City of Bishop and Caltrans have both done many traffic and parking studies and always concluded with the same results, i.e., lots of traffic and inadequate parking. The city has come out on the short end lately as several lots in private ownership have been closed to public parking. The Police Department has taken over one quarter of the parking lot behind Alex Printing.
3. Now there is talk of revamping the existing parking lot, removing all the landscaping, including that in front of City Hall and even closing Church Street. All of this would be at considerable expense, the funds coming, of course, from the sale of the property – coincidentally being done to replace the lost spaces due to the sale. Isn’t this counterproductive? Why should we have to furnish even as much as one space to accommodate a new developer? Private enterprise is required to provide enough parking for their developments, why not the court?
4. If indeed you think you can give up this area for development, why not list it on the open market? Perhaps some merchant will build something that generates sales tax, property tax and new jobs. The court provides none of these! The price of property is at a low point now, perhaps you should wait and get a better price later. Why should you rush to the first offer?
5. Have you considered the future needs of the city? Certainly some of you remember that just a few years ago the city was looking for property on which to relocate the Police Department. For several reasons (unavailability and cost) you came up blank.
Wouldn’t it be advisable to consider this parking site for this purpose? It would be a great cost savings because you don’t have to spend what you received on the courthouse purchase sale (and more in the future) for a new site. Selling this parcel eliminates for all time any future chance of development for this location for the City of Bishop.
Part of this area was donated to the City of Bishop for their use, the other paid for by taxes, a great deal of those taxes by the very downtown merchants that will be affected by this sales transaction.
For that reason alone I strongly feel that any City of Bishop property should not be sold to anyone at anytime!
6. Can this be sold by the city without a vote of the people?
7. Part of this parking dilemma will take care of itself when the new court and the proposed new county building displaces most of your present tenants of City Hall.
8. It seems to me that this city has missed out on two lost opportunities by not getting involved in the old Kmart/Vons situation. It could be put to a much better use and eliminate one of our biggest blights on Main Street. How much longer do we have to be held hostage by a non-concerned absentee landlord? Stan Smith presented some good ideas on this.
Thank you for taking my concerns under consideration.