Thursday, June 26, 2008

Why is the sale of public land an 'emergency'?

Toledo city council has an 'emergency' ordinance on the agenda for Tuesday - this one is to sell two parcels of city-owned land. According to the ordinance,

"The reason for the emergency lies in the fact that same is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety and property, and for the further reason that this Ordinance must be immediately effective to facilitate conveyance of this property to VIVA South Toledo CDC for community re-use."

I think most people would question why this is an emergency. It's not like a first and second reading is really going to have a detrimental impact on the agreement. And the city has owned this property for a long-enough time that a couple more weeks to discuss the proposal and give the public time to weigh in on it won't really have a negative impact.

But perhaps that's the point. If this is given proper review, citizens might start questioning other things about the agreement - like the price:

The City of Toledo, through reverter interest, presently holds title to the former South Branch Library at 1638 Broadway. VIVA South Toledo CDC wishes to acquire this property from the City for the purpose of establishing the Ohio Latino Community Credit Union (OLCCU) who will also provide other economic and justice related programs such as personal finance, mortgage counseling and legal aid. VIVA South will move their offices to this facility and they anticipate that the Toledo Police will relocate their field office to this location. They will be looking to fill any remaining available space with other community oriented service providers. The sale price for this property will be $10,000.

According to the County Auditor's website, the current value of this property is $213,500. Why is the city selling this property for less than 5% of its stated value????

What is the cost of relocating the Toledo Police field office into this facility? Will TPD then have to pay rent to VIVA South? Was this property offered on the open market or listed with a realtor in order to see if we could get more for it? If the city got more than $10,000 for the property, could that help offset the increased prices we've been paying for gas for our police vehicles? Will any council member bother to even think of these questions when this ordinance comes before them?

City elected officials are supposed to be the custodians of our tax dollars and our public assets. That means they don't make sweetheart deals with special interest groups for their own personal reasons. In today's market, this property may not truly be worth $213,500. But I can assure you it's worth more than the $10,000 proposed sale price and city council members should insist on getting fair market value for any public property it sells.

Another thought: since the proposed business on this property is a new credit union, it will be in direct competition with existing credit unions and banks. This means that the city, by offering the land at a fraction of the value, is subsidizing with tax dollars a new competitor to existing businesses already paying taxes. This is NOT business friendly!


Tim Higgins said...


I have been in Toledo for almost 2 years now, and I have to ask if there is any rhyme or reason in the way that it handles its real estate holdings. It seems like:

- Toledo owns far too much real estate not driectly related to government.
- There are no guidelines for the sale of real estate in terms of timing or pricing.
- Decisions made to buy or sell real estate always seem to be done as "emergency measures", with no thoughtful deliberation given to them.
- The value placed on city real estate holdings seems to have no basis in fact, but instead seems to be an arbitrary number pulled out of the thin air (or an oriface that produces same) :-)

Is there anything in city, county, or state law (or code) that can be used as oversight for this process, or are we merely to be at the whim of elected officials with agendas?

Tim Higgins said...


Pleae delete this if it is duplication. I tried to comment earlier, but I think that my computer decided it didn't like what I had written and refused to send it. We have since had a discussion over who is boss (it is) and I am attempting again to comment.

I have been in Toledo for almost 2 years now, and have to ask if there is any rhyme or reason to the policies involved with city owned real estate. This city certainly seems to be quite the real estate magnate, above and beyond the ownership of property required for governing.

- Give COSI a building for $1
- Finance the utilities for both COSI and the ESM, though they are "businesses"
- Refuse to sell The Docks when a valid offer is made
- Give away this library in the expectation of paying rent for partial use of the building in the future
- Hand over multiple parcels of land for Swan Creek on little more than a handshake

Is it just me, or does the city seem to pull real estate values out of thin air (or orifices that produce same)? :-)

As for the emergency, this may qualify as one. The deal the city seems ready to design could in fact be described as a natural disaster.

navyvet said...

I think Tim is on to something...

5% of mkt. value? For giving away the farm so to speak...I'm thinking 5 years in jail would be generous....


Tim Higgins said...


Roland Hansen did a posting on Time Travel today My two comments, the first showing up this morning while the second showed up yesterday, may prove that it is at least possible electronically.

Alert the media!

Robin said...

It seems to me that the only "emergency" is that they are trying to push out this deal before anyone can react to how cheaply they are selling this land.

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