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SLO forum highlights new infrastructure tool for cities

By   /   Friday, June 26th, 2015  /   Comments Off on SLO forum highlights new infrastructure tool for cities

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The San Luis Obispo Regional Forum, organized by the Economic Vitality Corp., recently brought together more than 45 elected officials, local government representatives and private industry stakeholders in the same room talking about infrastructure.

The forum was opened by Mike Manchak, president and CEO of the Economic Vitality Corp., and Guy Savage, deputy administrative officer of the San Luis Obispo County. Both advocated for increased collaboration through public-private partnerships in developing sustainable communities as funding from state and federal sources has eroded in recent years.

The money, which has been allocated to development in disadvantaged communities, active transportation projects or other objectives for good reason, has left little support that communities in better condition can leverage for general infrastructure improvements — thus the need for increased cooperation between local stakeholders.

Mark Pisano, University of Southern California fellow and co-chair of the 2014 California Economic Summit Infrastructure Action Team, was the keynote for the event and gave a detailed presentation on a new bill in the legislature that could give municipalities a new tool to work with.

Assembly Bill 628 introduces a new financing mechanism for infrastructure and other public purpose projects. The statute authorizes municipalities and counties to create Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts (EIFDs), which can fund infrastructure development and community revitalization.

It is hoped this new tool will provide local options to fund necessary infrastructure by streamlining opportunities to utilize tax increment financing, facilitating public-private partnerships and creating a structure by which the county and city governments can partner, aggregating projects and resources through a unified investment strategy.

Members of Economic Strategy Building Design & Construction and county staff members sounded off in a panel discussion on the topic, noting that local employers struggle to attract and retain the skilled workforce as a result of the high cost of housing in the region, which is significantly impacted by infrastructure costs.

The current model of funding infrastructure through development impact fees and federal or state sources is no longer the most viable option, according to those who spoke at the forum, and the need for a paradigm shift in how to pay for infrastructure must take place.

New leadership

Matt Marquis is taking over the reigns of Pacifica Hotels, the Irvine-based developer of west coast hotel properties, from his father Dale.

The new title of president and CEO isn’t exactly a new role for Marquis. Marquis, who most recently spearheaded the development of the Wayfarer Hostel in Santa Barbara, has been sharing responsibility of helming the growing firm with his father, now acting as chairman, for several years.

“It’s been an easy transition,” Marquis told the Business Times. “A lot of the work has transitioned from HR and contracts, to public relations and business strategy and getting out in front of our projects. While I’ve been working on this stuff for a while, it does seem like there’s a little more pressure.”

The company’s next project, a proposed 120-room boutique hotel off Milpas Street in Santa Barbara, is currently in the city’s architectural review process. The company hopes get to the planning commission phase within the next two months.

On the market

In 2013, a Los Angeles-based real estate development firm purchased a dilapidated industrial building at the intersection of Gonzales Road and Williams Drive in Oxnard.

The property, once home to some of the area’s early medical technology and aviation industry firms, fell into disrepair over the last decade.

Originally built in 1970 as one of the first large industrial complexes in the area, the 65,500-square-foot-plus building is scheduled to host an open house on July 16, in hopes of luring new tenants.

The shiny new project, which sits just down the road from St. John’s Hospital, is now known as the St. John’s Industrial Center.

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