By Donna Westfall – January 16, 2019 – I’ve been a landlord for over 40 years and most of the time consider myself lucky to have invested in good properties and tenants in Southern California, Northern California and two other states.
When I found out that Health and Human Services Director, Heather Snow, wants the County of Del Norte to cut a check for $163,000 because she moved out of building that had eight more years to run on a 10 year lease, I wanted to throw up.
She says that figure – $163,000 – is an industry standard. What is she, the maven of commerical real estate? Or is she and the Board of Sups forgetting the people they’re supposed to serve, the taxpayer?
Let’s start looking into the details.
Originally a contract was written in 2013 to rent the premises. Then Heather Snow renegotiated the contract in 2016 to run for 10 years. It’s a facility located at 1279 2nd Street in Crescent City. The name on the door is AOD which stands for Alcohol and Other Drugs. My first question, who in their right mind negotiates a 10 year rental contract for anything in this town? Let’s face it. That’s a great deal for the owner, but not such a great deal for the tenant. It’s a facility with about 3,000 square feet equalling about $3,000 a month or roughly $1/per/sq ft.
After 2 years, she decided to merge the operations into their facility on K Street.
Here’s the problem. COUNTY COUNSEL neglected to include a termination clause. I think that’s called flunking first year law school.
What are some solutions?
1.) The County could retain the lease agreement and move some other agency into the facility as a sub-leasee by changing the name of the tenant and including a termination clause.
2.) The County BOS could negotiate a lessor amount than $163,000. Something more in line with maybe six months lost rent; or taking the amount of any leasehold improvements into account and making the dollar amout closer to $50,000.
Since the current lease would terminate 1/31/19, the owner of the building could re-rent as early as 2/1/19 or even move back into his facility.
But to receive $163,000 PLUS the ability to move back in or re-rent sounds like double dipping to me.
On another issue, the BOS approved in a 4-1 vote to not only increase Heather Snow’s pay by 5% this year, but she got 5% for next year and 5% for the third year.
Guess who voted against this trifecta? Only Supervisor Roger Gitlin.
I called Sup. Gitlin and asked him about her salary increase. He responded, “I have no issue with a 5% rate increase to Heather Snow for the coming year, but I do have issues with another 10% total over the next 2 years. Department Heads have a tendency to make a decent wage, but the people under them do not.”
Looks to me like Sup Gitlin is the ONLY supervisor watching our taxpaying dollars.
If you want to chime in on these controversies, attend the upcoming BOS meeting Tuesday, January 22nd at 10 am.
For a county that’s always complaining they don’t have the money to do anything, $163,000 would be better spent than putting it into the pocket of a landlord who can then double dip by re-renting.