“I don’t know how he did it, but he managed to acquire the Maboubi Fardi property,” Jessen said. “It was a major achievement in a long, illustrious career.”
Jessen’s comments gave Frank a perfect segue into his talk. He began with a brief history of the city’s acquisitions of open space during and just before he began his 30 years at the helm of City Hall.
Frank chose a subject dear to the hearts of the audience.
“I never met Jim Dilley, but the city was already on that track when I first got here,” Frank said.
“The city had just bought the Sycamore Hills property for $5 million. Since then the city has acquired more than 3,000 acres of open space — not parks — open space. The city has spent $35 million for 110 parcels. It is a real achievement.”
He said another land acquisition might soon be announced.
“I can’t go into details, but the something else is cooking,” Frank said. “It is terrible to say, but the economy in the tank is an opportunity to acquire property that two years ago we couldn’t get. “
Property owners now are finding it financially expedient to donate parcels and take the tax benefits. But opportunities are getting scarcer.
South Laguna still has some treasures that the city would love acquire, Frank said.
His next subject was not quite as much fun — the budget, although there is a silver lining.
“We are in better shape than most cities,” Frank said.
Frank said there would be at least five layoffs this year and more in the next two years, but that the public will not notice it. What the public will notice, he said, are capital improvements.