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CenterCal Chosen as New Waterfront Developer

The Redondo Beach City Council agrees with the staff recommendation to negotiate exclusively with CenterCal Properties.

Editor's note: This article was originally published Tuesday at 5 a.m. It has since been updated to reflect the council's decision.

The Redondo Beach City Council will now exclusively negotiate with CenterCal Properties for the development of 15 acres of city-owned land on the Redondo Beach waterfront, including the Redondo Beach Pier, the International Boardwalk and the Redondo Beach Marina.

The council voted 4-1, with Councilman Bill Brand dissenting, to stick with the staff recommendation of CenterCal. Brand told attendees that he preferred developer Pacifica Companies' plan.

In a special council meeting Tuesday night, the councilmen heard from the three developers—CenterCal, Lowe Enterprises and Pacifica—as well as many members of the community for the first time since the developers presented their top-level visions for the property during a public meeting Sept. 13.

Each of the developers also submitted a confidential letter of intent to the city with more in-depth analysis and explanation of financing.

CenterCal is expected to spend as much as $200 million over the next 5-10 years on the waterfront, and once finished, the revitalization could generate $4 million to $8 million in new annual revenue to the city through sales and hotel taxes, as well as ground rent.

Based on the presentations and letters of intent, city staff recommended that El Segundo-based CenterCal be chosen as the waterfront developer; however, the council can override the choice.

According to a staff report from Waterfront and Economic Development Director Pete Carmichael, CenterCal's primarily retail- and entertainment-based approach to the project, as well as its relationship with the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) for funding, makes it the staff's choice for developer.

Both Lowe Enterprises' and Pacifica Companies' proposals focused primarily on hospitality with a complimentary retail component, which can  according to city staff. Though CenterCal's proposal includes hospitality, it is not the primary focus.

Additionally, the city had concerns about Lowe Enterprises' financing models, especially because it would need to find an equity partner and it was reluctant to take over the leaseholds early, according to the staff report. Staff were also concerned about Pacifica Companies' lack of experience with niche lifestyle and destination retail.

The developer that is selected is expected to spend as much as $200 million over the next 5-10 years on the waterfront, and once finished, the revitalization could generate $4 million to $8 million in new annual revenue to the city through sales and hotel taxes, as well as ground rent.

The council also decided to add two more public input meetings to Phase II of the project. Phase II will consist of public input meetings during the weeks of Nov. 18 and Dec. 9, approval of an exclusive negotiating agreement on Dec. 18, a developer-led public design workshop on Jan. 17, and the approval of a developer commitment contract and preliminary design concept March 5.

Below is our live blog of the event. Updates are in chronological order. Please excuse any typos!

6:12 p.m.: Pete Carmichael, the waterfront and economic development director, is starting his presentation. His presentation starts with a photo of the pier after it was destroyed by a fire and storm swell in 1988. "It's a gem for the South Bay, though I think many would agree somewhat of an unpolished gem," says Carmichael.

Carmichael continues to go through the history of what set the road map for the waterfront revitalization, including the Harbor Enterprise Business Plan and Asset Management Plan and measures G and DD.

He mentions the "acquisitions of some targeted leaseholds" in the waterfront to create the acreage for development.

6:16 p.m.: Carmichael mentions the three finalists—CenterCal Properties, Pacifica Companies and Lowe Enterprises—then gets into the process the developers have gone through to make it to this meeting. City staff completed an initial fiscal assessment, site visits and evaluations of multiple issues.

"The purpose of tonight's meeting is threefold," Carmichael says. It allows council to direct staff to continue negotiations with the selected developers. Developer can begin public engagement workshop with additional public engagement workshops.

"Staff is recommending CenterCal Properties out of El Segundo," he says.

6:19 p.m.: Right now, Carmichael is going over why CenterCal it . CenterCal offered the best initial proposed price and terms.

Should Council move forward with one of the 3 developers, staff will proceed with the exclusive negotiating agreement.

6:23 p.m.: Time for Larry Kosmont, the city's real estate consultant, to talk about the evaluation criteria. He says they were focusing on outreach. "This is going to be ... an interactive process. There are a lot of interested people and there should be," he says, indicating the crowd here.

6:24 p.m.: "Authenticity is really a key element here," Kosmont says. He's talking about the five evaluation criteria—experience, capital, outreach, deal terms and authenticity.

6:31 p.m.: Pacifica Companies and Lowe Enterprises went hotel-first; retail, second, says Kosmont. He's going over the evaluations of all three developers. City staff's complete report of the developer evaluations is part of the agenda attached to this article.

6:34 p.m.: "This retail-first, hotel-second balance ... made it very attractive to us," says Kosmont in regards to CenterCal. It sounds like city staff were very, very impressed with CenterCal. He mentions the relationship with CalSTRS.

"The CenterCal proposal stood quite a distance above the other two," he says.

6:41 p.m.: Councilman Bill Brand calls the work "really, really impressive." He has questions, though.

"How long would you expect it to take us ... to come to some kind of agreement on a financing deal?" asks Brand.

"Time is not a friend for these public-private transactions in the first place," Kosmont says. They want to do the key elements of due diligence in the next 90 days. He estimates it should happen in the next 6-7 months.

Brand also wants to know how CenterCal seeded local tenants. According to Kosmont, CenterCal has managed to recruit local tenants to a center up in Northern California. "It's not unusual for retail developers to find local merchants," he says.

Carmichael says the recruitment of local tenants also gives the centers a measure of authenticity. Staff visited 4-5 CenterCal sites, three sites from Lowe and two sites from Pacifica in San Diego.

6:45 p.m.: Brand has Carmichael to describe some of the Pacifica and Lowe projects they examined, including the space and public outreach.

"I think some of the most notable public accomplishments ... were on sites we didn't necessarily visit," says Carmichael. He mentions the Chula Vista Bay Master Plan with Pacifica Companies, which hasn't actually been built yet.

6:49 p.m.: Brand asks city staff why the city was doing the "who first" rather than the "what first"—why the city went for the developer first rather than coming up with its own vision.

"I'm curious why we're going, as some people would say, backwards," Brand says.

Kosmont said they had to engage the lessees first. "This is not a greenfield exercise. This is an existing piece of property that has revenue, that has income," he says. "It is easier to pre-plan and draw pictures on properties that have lesser uses on an existing basis. When you have a piece of property like this one ... the better approach is to engage the development community in an assessment of that property at the same time that you're doing the physical planning."

6:52 p.m.: Brand also wants to know why there were no public input meetings before this one. "The most appropriate time for public input ... is after the vendor's been selected and we're actually moving into the site plan," Carmichael responds. Residents will have plenty of public input during the SEQA and EIR process, but they're adding two official meetings so the developers can start meeting with and listening to residents and stakeholders.

6:55 p.m.: Councilman Steve Aspel's turn. "One of the interesting things is we had seven people apply .. and whittled down to three. I know firsthand of at least one other huge company that wanted to get involved from back east but they didn't want to go through the RFQ," he says.

He wants to know about Kosmont's qualifications.

"It's been our privileges for 25 years to work with cities and counties and other public agencies throughout California on what we call public-private partnership transactions," says Kosmont. Company was started in 1986; Kosmont is a former city manager. He's really plugging his company, saying his staff is exactly what cities need to help negotiate "fair and equitable transactions."

"We understand the public real estate transaction has to be transparent, it has to be fair," he says.

6:57 p.m.: Aspel clarifies that once a developer is selected, there's still a very long way to go before any ground is broken.

7:04 p.m.: "This is one of the things we have to work on in a timely manner ... we have leases coming out," says Aspel.

Now it's Aust's turn.

"We're not rushing into it. It's taken us nearly 25 years to get here," says Aust. "If that's rushing, I don't know how we came up with that ... We need the money and the people that know what they're doing."

And now Diels alludes to the old "Who's on first" routine from Abbot & Costello.

7:05 p.m.: Time to hear from the candidates. Mayor Mike Gin asks them to come up in alphabetical order.

First up is CenterCal Properties. Fred Bruning, the CEO, has brought his team—a member of which resides in Redondo Beach. He plugs the local connection.

"I can't tell you how eager we are to start that (public) dialogue," he says. "We really want to talk about the local stakeholders in terms of the current tenants. in any symphony, they're probably the most important instruments. ... Local tenants are going to be a critical component."

He notes that he has occasionally subsidized or given seed money to local businesses in their centers.

"It's a very unique thing to have a waterfront site like this," he says. "I do think the input from the marine community is going to be vital ... We really want to talk to the community about scope and different types of uses."

"If we were to be selected, it would be an honor and it would be something we would give our top effort to," he says, making a quick joke about how it only takes 2-3 hours to get to El Segundo on a "normal traffic day."

7:16 p.m.: "What do you envision?" Brand asks.

"The place and the environment are going to be as important as the (inaudible)," says Bruning. He says that it involves art in public places, among other features. "We don't want it to become just another replica of another project."

"I think the basic retail is provide ... really unique retailers you won't necessarily find at Del Amo Fashion Center or at the Galleria," he says. He likes the idea of a seafood marketplace (a la Quality Seafood?), good restaurants, entertainment, possibly a small boutique hotel. "I think if we do our placemaking well and our mix well, that will give us the largest possible choice of boutique hotels."

He says he'll be at every meeting for public outreach, along with members of his team.

"The community expects a very high quality project that's not only going to be good for the 15-acre site we're talking about, but also good for the surrounding community," Bruning says.

Brand also wants to know about coastal development projects; Bruning says the group has not done any along the coast, but they have done ones along rivers and with large water components.

Bruning also emphasizes that CenterCal tries to do projects without using public funding.

7:20 p.m.: Aust has a "couple of questions." He wants to know the "one reason" that makes CenterCal want to do the project.

"'Cause it's really cool," says Bruning. He later adds, "It's a remarkable property ... and you only get one chance to do it."

7:30 p.m.: "Can you describe ... what has been an example of a big challenge?" Gin asks. This sounds exactly like a job interview question. I guess this is a major job interview for these developers.

Bruning notes a project in Portland with the airport, where they couldn't plant trees or use water elements because they were prohibited by zoning.

"I think pretty much all of them have worked out pretty well," he concludes.

Gin also wants an example where CenterCal helped a local business become part of their project. Bruning cites some examples of a bookstore and a craft store in other projects. The examples were detailed in the staff report. Bruning says there are probably 50-60 examples they could look at.

"Our goal is eventually those tenants pay us a lot of rent because they're doing so well," he says, noting that they want to give local residents the opportunity to be successful.

This question comes from a constituent, says Gin: How does the developer ensure the proposal would be complimentary to existing businesses, as opposed to being a competitor?

Good question, says Bruning. He says their projects are designed to enhance the area. They don't try to take tenants from other projects; they look at tenant mix to see how it would be beneficial for the broader area.

7:32 p.m.: Would the developers consider getting LEED certification for the projects? asks Brand. Yes, says Bruning, though LEED does have some issues. (It's hard to put a lot of windows in a theater, he notes.)

7:36 p.m.: Brand is wondering why CenterCal pulled out of a project in Oregon.

Bruning says there was a "very sharp division" over whether the project should be built, and one councilman was being recalled by his constituents. "It was an odd situation, but it was a situation where we thought the best thing we could do for the community was pull out" and let the city council heal itself.

7:44 p.m.: Time for Lowe Enterprises and the Ruth Group! Matt Walker, executive vice president of Lowe Enterprises, and Bob Ruth, president of the Ruth Group, are up. They say they're the best for the job, and name-drop Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, as well as some projects in Beverly Hills.

"We understand what it takes to build a complex project," says Walker.

Walker says the group thinks they've got a group plan. He says the first plan was way too preliminary. "We think we've got a plan that has a combination of good uses. This upscale, boutique gourmet eatery," resort hotel and restaurant square is a "unique plan that respects the heritage, the authenticity and the marina site itself," he says. He sounds almost desperate.

"We're not programming hotel because we focus on hotel. We think hotels are the best use ... for the site to bring visitors down to use the property, to create a critical mass of users to enjoy the property," he says. He notes that they're not comfotable doing more retail.

He also says they're more realistic than the other groups, especially when it comes to zoning issues. "We've been also very careful not to over-promise," he says. "We feel that there are lots of ways we can be flexible with the city."

Still, they need more time.

7:51 p.m.: Aust is first. He explains that the city "needs some experience and some money"—something that Lowe Enterprises didn't offer. "The clock's ticking on (the Decron leasehold)," Aust says.

Walker says they need a few months before they can commit.

Brand says that he thinks Lowe Enterprises has done "more due dilligence than the other two" groups, and he thinks it reflects their "caution." Is there anything in the staff report that Lowe would take issue with?

Walker notes that they intend on being a long-term partner here.

8:01 p.m.: In response to a question from Brand about their focus on hotels as opposed to retail, Bob Ruth says that their mix is the right mix, according to the group's studies. He doesn't think the market can support so much retail. "We did our homework," he says.

Brand notes that the city is hesitant to take on public debt for this project. Walker says private debt is what they're looking at—a private investment firm would buy the debt and fund the project.

8:10 p.m.: Gin wants an example of Lowe/Ruth's approach to public engagement. "You guys have a great reputation," he says, noting that he's a fan of Catalina Kitchen at Terranea. (Personally, I prefer Nelson's—love their burgers!)

Walker gives the standard "we work with the community" response, complete with examples.

"What makes you really want to do this project?" Aust says.

"It's cool!" says Walker, echoing Bruning's comment. "What gets me up in the morning is looking at a (sic) irreplaceable waterfront location that is in need of repair that we can make a once in a lifetime impression and change the waterfront in Redondo Beach forever."

"I grew up in Southern California ... there's a lot of passion and personal reasons I'd like to see this come to what it should be," adds Ruth.

"If cool is the rule, then why do we want to go Lowe?" Aust asks. Councilman Steve Aspel asks if he can go throw up.

"Play and stay was our mantra before," says Walker. "I think you know what you're getting if you come with the Lowe and the Ruth Group."

Aspel says Lowe Enterprises hit a home run in the library, but things have changed—mostly in regards to financing.

Walker says he doesn't think the leveraged financing does not put the city more at risk. "We would also bring in an equity investor to bring in a significant amount of capital as well," he says.

Carmichael cuts in and says it's the need to find an equity partner that poses some risk to the city.

8:12 p.m.: Aspel definitely approves of Lowe's hotels; however... "Rooftop bars ... that'll probably go over like a fart in church," he says. Aspel notes that the "huge" number of hotel rooms might turn off city staff and residents who don't want a big "monster" looking hotel.

"It's a low-rise site that is two-stories with the exception of the parcel behind the Seaside Lagoon, which is three," says Walker.

Would Lowe be interested in working with staff and residents to reduce the number of hotels? "You're not a big fan of retail," Aspel notes.

"We are trying to build a project that responds to the market," Walker says. "We feel that a hotel better responds to the market."

8:18 p.m.: "I'm glad to hear that two people think that Redondo's cool," says Aspel.

Brand wants to know Lowe's opinion of LEED-certified projects and buildings.

"I absolutely think it's the norm," says Walker. He also thinks that LEED certification will be easier for this project because there's a lot of infrastructure that can be reused.

Councilman Steve Diels says he liked CenterCal's response to LEED certification—they would adhere to the standards, but not seek certification.

8:26 p.m.: Now it's time for Pacifica Companies! Ash Israni, the chairman of Pacifica, is first to present.

"You have an unpolished gem ... what we would like to do is present our vision of a world-class project," he says. "We are a diversified real estate company. We have 40 hotels but we also own a bunch of luxury hotels. One of our hotels, La Valencia, was just in the Top 25 or 50 Conde Nast best hotels in California."

He emphasizes that Pacifica is self-funded.

"We own our projects for a long time but not forever. We're not flippers," he says. He notes that the retail part should be indigenous to the local businesses.

Allison Rolfe emphasizes how they're tight with the Coastal Commission. "We don't even do press releases at Pacifica Company," she says. She emphasizes that the company is built on Israni's success.

8:29 p.m.: Aust wants to know what the mix of development to park Israni would see. Is this a back-end way of chastising the initiative folks?

"I would make it 100 percent park if it was feasible!" says Israni. "One hundred percent park doesn't work." The example he cites is 60 percent park, 40 percent development.

Aust wants to know why Pacifica wants to develop this.

"How many pieces like this exist in California?" Israni asks.

"Why would we pick you to do this?" Aust asks.

"Because this is what we do. This is what we do. We do waterfront, oceanfront projects—that is what we enjoy doing."

8:34 p.m.: Brand's turn. He thanks them and asks if Rolfe would lead the public outreach, and she says she would be "involved with completely with the project manager."

Brand offers the representatives a chance to respond to the staff report's comment on authenticity.

Rolfe says the Chula Vista project (which hasn't reached a groundbreaking stage) is all about place-making and authenticity.

And here's the power plant mention! (It's taken two-and-a-half hours.) Brand asks Israni if the lack of power plant helps his business; Israni says he thinks so. Brand also picked up on the 60 percent open space, 40 percent commercial and institutional uses.

8:41 p.m.: Aspel wants to know more about the projects Pacifica has taken over, rather than those they've built from the ground-up. What does Pacifica normally do with the current tenants?

"We beg them to stay," Israni says.

"Well, that's a good answer," Aspel responds. He wants to know if they would be willing to dedicate area in the harbor for parkland.

"In the end, it has to make sense for both the community and the developer and the city," Israni says.

Is this area more valuable? Aspel asks. Israni says yes.

"So basically, the bottom line is this is your money. You're not going out to finance it," says Aspel.

"Yes, sir," Israni affirms.

8:46 p.m.: Public comment! The chairwoman of the arts commission encourages the council to request the developers add public art.

"We have so much potential to make this really top of the class beachfront," she says.

Theresa, whose last name I did not catch, says she agrees with the staff's recommendation to endorse CenterCal as the preferred developer.

"There's three reasons which I believe that CenterCal Properties is the best for the project," she says. Her reasons, which are more than three:

  1. Experience in creating retail and entertainment venues—the primary focus of the waterfront.
  2. She likes their "creative approach" to design and problem-solving.
  3. Community engagement. She thought CenterCal was better equipped to engage the public in the discussion. "They appeared very open," she says.
  4. They're a local South Bay company. "Having a developer located nearby is a huge advantage."
  5. Mantra, commitment and focus.
  6. Their financial capability.

8:48 p.m.: This man says the developers are "still in the dark" right now—they don't know where the restaurants, etc. should be. He says this presentation is of what staff wants the council to see.

8:51 p.m.: Steve Schumaker wants to emphasize community participation. Today, he's wearing another shirt with a Pokemon on it. I can't remember the name of this one. The current tenants to be given "a fair chance at continuing," he says. "It's still sort of an undeveloped, un-utilized area."

"I would strongly support CenterCal," he says. "I like the guy on the paddleboard; I like the guy on the biplane flying over Redondo. It gives it sort of a hometown feeling. I think they demonstrate the feeling of the community."

Georgette Gatner from the Redondo Beach Art Group emphasizes public art—possibly an art gallery.

8:58 p.m.: Nadine Meissner has a few comments. She says a lot of focus is on retail, which might not be a good idea. She wants more community focus groups and the developer to "look at really what makes sense and is feasible."

She encourages the council to select a developer with experience with the California Coastal Commission (i.e. not CenterCal).

The project should be compatible with residential living in the village, so the developer should meet with all the homeowners, she says.

Alfred Meissner wants to know "what is the rush"? "It's such an important issue to pick the right developer," he says. "Who is picking this? City staff talked to the devlopers, city staff's making the recommendation for all to consider." He wants to know if city staff actually live in Redondo Beach. "We need to make that decision as a community."

"I ask restraint. There is no reason in this current economic climate ... slow down, again, there's no rush," he says. "Please, there's no rush."

8:59 p.m.: Trinity Singer from Starboard Attitude is up at the podium. "I've done a lot of research, as you know," she says. "I'd like to actually really support the city staff's recommendation."

CenterCal seems to get what's going on in the community, she says. "I don't htink we're rushing into this. I think we've been in this a long time."

9:01 p.m.: Tony Trutanich of Old Tony's on the Pier says he's glad he came. "I need to start basing my decisions on coolness, and not on money," he jokes. He wants to support CenterCal in the decision. "The other two companies are really good, qualified companies"—but they kept saying they have a team on it. The owner of CenterCal travels from Rancho Palos Verdes to El Segundo daily.

"I do not think we're moving too fast, and I hope we don't have too many public meetings," he says. "The Village people come, we'll be the only pier on the West Coast that has a no-talking zone."

9:04 p.m.: Mark Hansen of the King Harbor Boaters Advisory Panel thanks the council and praises it for its dilligence. Now, it's time for his speech about the boat ramp.

A relatively new resident comes up to the podium. She says she learned that picking a developer that can work with community input is very important. "I certainly want a forum for my interests to be heard," she says.

9:09 p.m.: John Parsons says he's "really excited." "It's always hard to not know what the outcome is going to be when you make a decision," he says. "You have some good choices. I think it's hard for us to really know which one's the best one."

"I'm comfortable, really, with whoever you choose," he notes.

Another person comes up to the podium.

The council's done a great job—"and not one pitchfork or torch coming down!" he explains.

"The night's still young," Aspel says.

9:15 p.m.: Robert Resnick, who owns the Redondo Landing leasehold on the pier, says the council has shown "incredible vision and courage in making such a huge move." He also congratulates City Manager Bill Workman, Larry Kosmont, Pete Carmichael, Aaron Jones and others. "The city is poised to really put itself back on the map like it used to be," he says. He emphasizes that the project should be true to the character and the history of the city.

"We have to also understand that we are entering a new chapter in the history of the waterfront of Redondo Beach," he says. "I would encourage the council to think very, very deeply about the phasing this project takes."

Resnick gets a time extension because he's saying nice things, the council jokes after the three minutes are up.

9:18 p.m.: Kelly Charles, who lives in the Village, tells the developers they need to pay more attention to the residents of the Village. "I'm very excited about this development, and I want it to happen," she says. Nevertheless, she says the neighbors want their input. "There are 1,000 units there. The rest of the city doesn't have to deal with this. It is very noisy, you guys know—you've heard from us before. It's nothing new."

Tim Charles from the Village seconds what his wife says. He also wants to know what's going to happen to the existing parking structure directly in front of the Village. Aspel says it will fall over.

9:20 p.m.: Gin wants the developers to answer Tim Charles' question about the parking structure.

Walker says there's a limited life left on the garage. He would rebuild the parking garage because the parking is needed.

Bruning says there's obviously a short shelf-life, though they might move the parking. "It will need to be replaced; it's just obscelescent," he says. "It doesn't really work that well; it's not that safe."

"The parking structure can be strengthened to have a longer life ... but if it needs to be, it's a better option to tear it down," says Israni.

9:25 p.m.: Gin thanks city staff, his colleagues and Kosmont for their work on the project. "I think what has been displayed is really, truly historic," he says. He notes that Tuesday's decision is like picking someone to "date"—"we're not consummating a marraige," he says. "We're not signing a contract tonight."

9:32 p.m.: "I have to tip a little bit, lean a little bit to our staff recommendation, CenterCal," Gin says. He also says that it is still a tough decision.

"Well said, mayor," Aspel says. He says that it's cool to be elected, but "uncool" to have to disappoint people. "There are certain things that have to go on in closed session ... but it doesn't mean anything underhanded is going on."

Aspel is very proud of the city staff. "(Bill Workman) has hired brilliant people to work for him," the District No. 1 councilman says. "We do depend on staff, but it's OK because we do have a great staff to depend on."

"This choice with the three developers is like the first candy bar you're going to eat on Halloween," Aspel says.

In response to a question from Aspel, only a few parts of the project would require Coastal Commission approval, unless they go out of the bounds set by Measure G or someone appeals it, Carmichael says.

"We've got to show some backbone on this thing," Aspel says. "It's gone on way too long."

9:38 p.m.: Kilroy thanks the developers: "I think each one of you brings something unique to the table. You have your own special gifts and your own special areas of expertise."

"I don't think that we've rushed it. I think (staff has) laid out exactly the case," he says. "We will lose something in the neighborhood of 32 years of experience on this council this March ... I don't think that's easily replaceable or very easily replaceable, and I think the time to act is now."

"This deal is not making a huge buck for Redondo Beach ... It's about creating a vibrant harbor and pier area," Kilroy says. He mentions CenterCal, but does he support them? It sounds like he does. He hopes the other developers can work with them.

9:47 p.m.: "This is a big decision we have," says Brand. "We have to stop and think for a minute—this is really a historic time."

He notes he stopped going to the pier because it fell into disrepair. "It never really, really came back, even though we rebuilt the pier," he says. "It just never became this placemaking type place that really all the three developers are trying to create."

Brand brings up the fact that there were no other public meetings. He's still not happy about it; he says it's his one criticism of staff. "Before coming into the meeting, I was really prepared to probably abstain because I didn't feel like I had enough information," he says. "But I think I can say this so I'm just going to say it—one of the developers, Lowe really ... it just wasn't going to work."

"For me it came down to Pacifica and CenterCal," Brand says. He says he is tipping towards Pacifica versus CenterCal because of Pacifica's outreach, though he likes CenterCal's proximity. "It's such a big decision, and we have three good choices."

He also thinks the capital tips toward Pacifica, too.

City Attorney Mike Webb reminds the council to disclose discussions held in closed session.

Diels says he wouldn't characterize his decision as Brand did, regarding the council's opinion of Lowe in closed session.

9:51 p.m.: "I don't think you're going to have a successful project that's not accepted by the local community," says Diels. "There will be change in the harbor area. If we do nothing, there will be change—it will just deteriorate even further."

He says the council will do what it can to make sure there is public input; however, the council can't resolve all the fear "because we're not stopping the fact that there will be change."

He thanks all the developers for their involvement and says he will vote for CenterCal, "but you're all great."

9:51 p.m.: "Watch out, Pat Aust is going to give you another history lesson," says Aust.

Aspel warns there "won't be a quorum in about 30 seconds..."

9:53 p.m.: The 1988 storm brought down parts of the pier. They rebuilt. Then came the fire in May. Aust was the battalion chief in charge of fighting the fire, and he was on a committee. Stop me if you've heard this before...

9:57 p.m.: Nothing has been built on the pier since Kincaid's. Ruby's is the only new restaurant in the harbor in 24 1/2 years, says Aust. "In this lightning-quick speed where we're running away ... it's like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic."

"This has to begin. We can't just keep vacillating here and wondering how we're going to get off dead center. We have to start," Aust says. "We're not running away, and we're not, not considering what the citizens want ... if the people here like it, the other people are going to come and like it here."

10 p.m.: Aspel: "It's a cool pier now. It's OK to go down there now." His comments bring laughter. "The pier's a happening spot now. We're just trying to make a great thing better ... It's not that piece of crap anymore."

Brand says he's going to vote against Aspel's motion to approve the staff recommendation.

The vote is 4-1, with Brand opposing.

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