CNWS City Council Should Reject CFP's Request for Changes

Concord residents should be aware that the current iteration of the naval weapons station development project has hit a serious obstacle. The chosen developer has made last-minute requests which, in my opinion as a candidate for City Council, the City of Concord should not accept. I am very concerned that critical aspects of the development are at risk - housing that is affordable, community benefits, and fair treatment of labor. 




Concord First Partners, LLC - a partnership led by the locally well-known Seeno family - has requested substantive changes to the terms of the exclusive negotiating agreement and timeline they were granted by the Concord City Council late last year. The exclusive negotiating period ends May 25th, one day after the upcoming City Council meeting. 

The group recently stated in public communications with the City Council as the “Local Reuse Authority” that the combination of infrastructure costs, community benefits, and land use requirements “cause the project to be impracticable from an investment standpoint.” This is often the prelude to changes in the development plan which benefit the developer at the expense of residents. 

Some “renegotiation” is to be expected at every stage of a process as complex as this one. However, the requests being made by the Concord First Partners should not be accepted by the Concord City Council. Two things, in particular, stand out:

  • They are seeking to be granted “enforceable rights” to the naval weapons station land even before crucial policies and agreements are approved. These include a Specific Plan, an Environmental Impact Review, and a Disposition and Development Agreement. 
  • They are requesting that the City (as the Local Reuse Authority) reimburse them for certain costs should the City fail to approve the EIR and Specific Plan. 

In their report, city staff recommend denying Concord First Partners’ proposed amendments - they are “not in the best interests of the Local Reuse Authority.” 

As a community, Concord has a deep need for the benefits of intelligent and collaborative development. These are best achieved with a development partner who has earned and deserves the trust of Concord residents. 

But I agree with city staff that Concord should reject all these requests, including a request for more time extensions. The staff report makes many good points, including these: 

  • If Concord First Partners were granted an enforceable property interest, it could potentially sue Concord to prevent the Local Reuse Authority from seeking another third party developer
  • The City of Concord should not attempt to insulate Concord First Partners from financial risk by conveying an interest in property it does not currently own

Concord First Partners was a risky choice that many in Concord did not agree with last year, myself included. The group now feels that they can’t find a way to tackle the project as a successful investment for them. Nonetheless, they are seeking to renegotiate. And according to city staff, the changes they are requesting increase the possibility of litigation between them and Concord, it doesn’t reduce it. 

My greatest concerns are the good things that should accrue to Concord and its residents from the successful development of the naval weapons station property: a long list of community benefits, affordable housing, and fair treatment of labor. It is worth noting that all three of the finalist candidates last year had signed Project Labor Agreements with the local building trades. 

I think we should take Concord First Partners at their word - they can’t figure out how to move forwards in terms that are financially viable for them. If the Concord First Partners group can’t pencil out the development from an investment perspective, the three things that are likely to suffer are affordable housing, community benefits, and fair treatment of labor. That’s not acceptable to me. 

These are all of the places where developers work carefully to place their profit before the interests of people. Concord residents, in this case - the people whose interests I as a candidate will place in front of all other concerns.  

And so I think we should follow staff’s recommendation and deny these requests for changes. Most especially I believe that the best course of action is to let their exclusive negotiating agreement lapse. It is highly likely that more credible and financially capable candidates from the group last summer would be more than happy to take up where Concord First Partners leaves off. This approach is consistent with the chorus of community comments across last year that another developer be chosen rather than Concord First Partners.


My pledge as a candidate and city council member is that I will be transparent, accountable, and open to hearing different perspectives. What do you think? Join the conversation with my campaign on Facebook and Twitter.

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