DWP General Manager David Nahai’s resignation has left the new Bishop City Park lease agreement with an uncertain future but a chance meeting of officials may have saved the day.
City Administrator Rick Pucci says that hes optimistic the lease will survive the politics and bureaucratic process in Los Angeles; but given that Nahai had worked personally on this issue, survival of the lease is not guaranteed.
For years, Pucci had worked with DWP staff to try to purchase the City Park from Los Angeles. According to Pucci, Nahai told him that there was no way that he could get a sale approved, but Nahai did say that he would push a long-term lease through the Board of Water and Power Commissioners.
DWP and the City of Bishop agreed on terms in September of 2008. The lease has been making its way through the gears of LA government ever since. A mix up at the legal department in LA led to an additional delay, but at last word the lease had cleared the Department of Water and Power and was headed toward the LA City Council Energy and Environment Committee.
The agreed on 40 year lease gives the City of Bishop a greater say over park operations and also qualifies as long term control of the property when the City seeks grant money for improvements. It took two years for Los Angeles staff to approve the concept of a skate park in Bishop, according to Pucci. Planting and removing trees even requires permission. This new lease is expected to give Bishop the flexibility to run the park without the extra layer of approval- if the lease is approved.
This is where Pucci sees a positive note for the park lease since the paperwork is out of the Department of Water and Power where Nahai had been the boss until last week.
From here, a fortuitous lunch may help keep the lease alive. At a League of California Cities conference, Pucci had the chance to sit down for lunch with LA City Council member Janice Hahn. He explained Bishops park plight. The lease is peanuts for the City of Los Angeles but unbelievably critical, for Bishop, Pucci explained. Hahn was receptive and has since been in communication with the City of Bishop.
The lease could clear the LA City Council Energy and Environment Committee this Wednesday or at their next meeting two weeks from Wednesday. If the lease survives that committee, the LA City Council would have the final word.