An article in the 11/9 Independent suggests the city of Livermore can buy the Garaventa Hills site (GH) and conserve it as open space. For the following reasons, that scenario is a non-starter.
GH owners have exercised their prerogative to sell the land to the buyer of their choosing, housing developer Lafferty Communities, with whom the owners have entered a binding contract.
If the GH owners were to sell to Livermore, they would breach that contract, an egregious violation that would expose both the owners and Livermore to litigation and significant financial penalties.
As the article references, $20+ million in conservation funds are available to Livermore. However, use of those funds for any purchase is subject to two key constraints:
- There must be a willing seller. In the case of GH, there is not.
- The land must be purchased at conservation prices, which in the Tri-Valley is approx $15k / acre.
According to the article, Lafferty is purchasing GH’s 32 acres for $15m - $20m, or approx $550k / acre. Paying more than 30 times the going rate for open space would be a gross misuse of the city’s conservation funds, and the committees that oversee the funds would likely reject the purchase.
GH is inside the urban growth boundary, conforms to the city’s north Livermore plan, is zoned for precisely the type of development that Lafferty will build, and the project’s EIR meets or exceeds all required environmental mediations.
I hope residents welcome their new neighbors and support the City’s prudent stewardship of conservation funds.
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