August 2, 2023 833 PM
PRESIDIO — On Tuesday night, Presidio City Council started a few preliminary conversations on what to do with city-owned land. CDS Partnership approached the city about buying the land underneath the post office, leading to a broader discussion about how the city has historically handled its contracts and finances.
Sharon Mathis of the CDS Partnership called into the meeting virtually to explain the pitch. Her company originally built and owns the post office building, but leases the land underneath it from the City of Presidio. The sale would not affect the operation or location of the post office. “We want to pursue a fair market agreement — we have approached the city multiple times over the past 26 years but have never gotten the go-ahead to sign,” she said.
CDS Partnership’s monthly payments to the city started off at $642 a month for the first 15 years of the lease, and would increase by about $1,000 monthly over the next 35 years. David Borack, also of CDS, explained that the real question they were posing to the city was whether they would like a lump sum or continued monthly payments. “Can you use that money now for something better than you could with $10,000 a year?” he asked.
Council didn’t take action, but voted instead to continue the discussion — many members felt that, upon reviewing the lease, there were some red flags raised in the original document on the city’s end.
Councilmember Nancy Arevalo said that she found it highly unusual to see a 50-year lease, especially for municipal property. Joe Andy Mendoza agreed, saying that the extra-long length of the lease put the city at a financial disadvantage. “The contract itself isn’t keeping up with current rent rates,” he said.
Mathis and Borack explained that they couldn’t fit the bill for the city to get an appraiser to check out the property but that it might be a worthwhile investment — when the lease is renewed again, the city will only stand to gain around $83 a month.
Councilmember John Razo said that reviewing the lease and thinking about selling the property at fair market value was part of the city’s ongoing quest to make better financial decisions. “There’s been a history of contracts that aren’t normal,” he said. “The way things were in the past — we can’t do anything about that, but we can correct it.”
The council members then tackled a number of annual “housekeeping” items before deciding how best to recruit people from the community to fill open leadership positions. Christina Juarez will be stepping down from her position at the Presidio Municipal Development District, leaving an open position on a board that makes important decisions about the city’s economic future.
The Planning and Zoning Committee — which needs at least four members to operate — has been left with only one member, Alma Martin. The committee met last in the fall, but needs full membership to help Presidians make progress on construction projects, land sales and disagreements between landowners and the city.
The city will be putting out an open call for letters of interest in both sets of positions but wanted to get a head start. “I feel like we’re missing some communication,” said Razo.