I received a Media Advisory today from newly elected Assemblywoman Catharine Baker stating that Mrs. Baker would be taking the Oath of Office tomorrow, December 1st, at Noon. I don't plan to be there or to cover her swearing in or take any photos for the Express, but I have a request for an action that I hope Assemblywoman Baker will take on because it is important and needs to be done right away.
PLEASE HELP SAVE MUDD'S RESTAURANT!
Some of my readers may remember this has been an ongoing issue for me since 2008 when the property was put up for sale by John Ebert. I asked the City Council to purchase the property and restore the building. The property, about 2.5 acres, is adjacent to Crow Canyon Gardens, which is a City Park.
The City purchased the property for $2.1M as part of the Redevelopment Agency, with $215K added for repairs to the building. So the property with the architecturally significant restaurant building were saved or so I thought.
About a year later, Oakland Restaurateur Michael LeBlanc made a presentation to the City Council to buy the Mudd's property, or actually lease it, to tear down the historically important building and replace it with a New Orleans style design.
I couldn't believe it. Frankly I was outraged. I had no animosity towards Mr. LeBlanc, but I was very upset that our City Councilmembers, Vice Mayor, Dave Hudson, Councilmembers Carol Rowley, Jim Livingstone, and Scott Perkins would even consider such a thing. Mayor Abram Wilson was absent from that meeting, but supported the agreement with LeBlanc to tear down this unique and environmentally innovative building.
Mudd's was designed to incorporate many of the energy saving design features promoted by Governor Jerry Brown in 1979 during his first term in office. Mr. LeBlanc had until the end of 2009 to come up with a financial plan for the property, including building a new restaurant. He was not able to meet the deadline, and the agreement was voided.
So while the Mudd's building is still standing, it has not been maintained in over five years. The Council in 2008 claimed the building was rat infested and full of dry rot. An inspection by me and the original architect, found most of the repairs needed were cosmetic. However, the building has been standing vacant and unmaintained for another three years. It is currently in Redevelopment Agency limbo.
When Governor Brown was reelected in 2008, he passed a law dissolving Redevelopment Agencies and all funds and properties still held by RDAs were to be taken over by the State. The City Council was named the Successor to the Redevelopment Agency. Council members were also the RDA before the RDAs were dissolved.
An Oversight Board was named to review dissolution of the RDA and its properties. The last meetings of the Successor Agency and the Oversight Board were in February 2014. The last item of business was to adopt "a Recognized Obligation Payment Schedule for the Period July 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014". As far as I know there has been no response back from the State Department of Finance about San Ramon's obligations.
San Ramon did not have a very large investment in the Redevelopment Agency. Other cities had greater need for these funds to improve distressed properties. Mudd's needs improvements NOW, and with the economy improving it should no longer be necessary for the State to tap into RDAs. I am hoping that the new Assembly and Senate will address this issue with Governor Brown.
I also brought up the plight of Mudd's with State Senator Mark DeSaulnier in January. Jim Gibbon was helping me file an application for Landmark status with the State Office of Historic Preservation. The application must be signed by the property owner. The problem is we don't know who owns the property now. It was the Redevelopment Agency, but that was dissolved by Governor Brown. So is it the Successor Agency or the Oversight Board, or the State Dept. of Finance?
DeSaulnier was previously in the restaurant business and knew a lot about Mudd's already. He was even asked to take over running it at one time. I received a phone call from one of his aids a few months ago asking who owns the property, but that's what we are trying to find out.
We still need someone to stand up for Mudd's. I hope Assemblywoman Baker and State Senator DeSaulnier will work together to get the historic designation Mudd's deserves. Someone please tell Jerry Brown this building is part of his legacy. PLEASE FREE MUDD'S from RDA Limbo NOW.