San Carlos has hired a law firm to represent the city and provide legal services to the City of San Carlos (“City”) in connection with the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) and entitlements process for the proposed San Carlos Transit Village Project (the “Project”).
I have emphasized a few key points below in Bold or Red:
COUNCIL/RDA MEETING DATE: April 12, 2010
ITEM TITLE: Consideration of Authorizing the City Manager to Execute a New Contract for Legal Services for the Processing of the San Carlos Transit Village Project an Amount not to exceed $50,000
It is recommended that the City Council authorize the City Manager to execute a contract for professional planning services for the processing of the San Carlos Transit Village project proposed for an amount not to exceed $50,000.
There is no cost to the General Fund resulting from the proposed contract as the applicant; Legacy Partners is funding the services.
The San Carlos Transit Village Project is currently undergoing environmental review. A Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) has been prepared for the project. The public comment period ended February 2, 2010. The City is currently in process of responding to comments received with continued processing of the application. Due to the volume and complexity of the comments reviewed and to ensure the City as “lead agency” for the environmental Impact Report has covered all the legal requirements pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act staff has identified a need for specialized legal services. In addition, there are numerous entitlements necessary, such as a Planned Community Zoning District Ordinance, Conditional Use Permit Certificate, Grading and Dirt Haul Certificate, Architectural Review and similar documents.
An RFP for legal services on behalf of the City was released (See Attachment 1 – RFP) and the City received three proposals (Sedgwick, Jarvis Fay Doporto & Gibson LLP, and Hanna & Van Atta). A selection process has been completed. The consultant recommendation is based on the extensive level of the consultant’s technical skill and experience, track record of success, ability to meet established deadlines, cost of work product output and the quality of the written and oral proposals/presentations (See Attachment 2 – Professional Planning Services Proposal). In order to move forward, Staff is requesting a new contract approval for the following services: Community Development Director
Request for Proposals
Firms submitting proposals are expected to provide the following services;
1. All inclusive legal services until project completion through the entitlement process with
primary emphasis on California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) consultation.
2. Other on-call legal services as needed,
3. Consultation with City attorney as needed.
4. Review and opinion of plans, reports, statements and other documents submitted and/or or prepared for the proposed project as needed.
5. Attendance at all public hearings and staff meetings as needed.
6. Legal services shall be compensated on an hourly basis with a not-to-exceed retainer of $50,000.
Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold L.L.P .
www.sdma.com 415.781.7900 phone 415.781.2635 fax
ONE MARKET PLAZA STEUART TOWER, 8TH FLOOR SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA 94105
March 8, 2010 SAN CARLOS
Al Savay, AICP Community Development Director City of San Carlos
600 Elm Street
San Carlos, CA 94070
Re: Response to Request for Proposal — Professional Legal Services for Proposed Transit Village Project
In response to your February 22, 2010 letter, we at Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold are delighted to submit this proposal to provide legal services to the City of San Carlos (“City”) in connection with the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) and entitlements process for the proposed San Carlos Transit Village Project (the “Project”). As detailed below, our team embodies the experience and expertise to jump in and assist the City and its consultant team to respond to comments on the Environmental Impact Report (“ELR”) and prepare for and participate in public hearings on the EIR and potential Project approvals. As you know, I and several of my colleagues are in the unique and fortunate position to have worked with the City on two substantial land use projects in recent years. As a result, we are confident that we are well positioned to efficiently help the City complete the process for the Project. We know that we would immensely enjoy working with such a qualified City staff and consultant team, lending our expertise to the considerable experience already at the table. Once you have had a chance to peruse this proposal, we welcome any questions, and would be pleased to meet with you to further discuss this proposal if you desire.
We understand that the Project is a large-scale, mixed-use development project proposed by Legacy Partners on land owned by SamTrans adjacent to and in the vicinity of the San Carlos Caltrain station. The Project is proposed to include 280 multiple-family dwelling units and approximately 38,000 square feet of office and retail uses, as well as a new transit center and pedestrian plaza. The Project would involve rezoning the site (as well as a remainder of the Railroad Corridor south of the site) from the Highway Seivice Commercial zoning district to a Planned Commercial zoning district in accordance with the City’s 2030 General Plan (designating the site for Mixed Use-Medium Density development) and City Council Resolution 2003-79 (encouraging the City to plan for and facilitate development of an economically viable, architecturally exceptional transit oriented development Project on the site). As conditioned, the Project would also comport with the City’s Climate Action Plan, which encourages mixed-use, infill development near transit in order to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
We also are aware that the City has retained various consultants to review the Project and has held several workshops, study sessions and community outreach meetings. We have successfully worked with several of these consultants on other large-scale development projects in San Carlos and other nearby communities. A Draft EIR has been prepared and circulated for public review. The Draft EIR concludes that all significant impacts associated with the Project can be mitigated to a less than significant level and that no significant unavoidable impacts would occur as a result of the Project. The comment period on the Draft EIR recently ended, and the City and its consultants are in the process of preparing responses to the comments received on the document. We have reviewed the Draft EIR and are aware that some of the key environmental issues associated with the Project include cultural resources (specifically, avoiding construction-related impacts to the historic San Carlos Depot building, which is not proposed to be altered by the Project but is adjacent to the Project area boundaries), traffic (specifically, the Project’s contribution to cumulative traffic impacts at certain intersections) and noise (both from a construction and operational standpoint). We are also aware that the Greater San Carlos Neighborhood Association is actively involved in the Project review process and has expressed concerns regarding potential impacts on the eastern San Carlos neighborhoods, including Laureola Park.
It is our understanding that, if selected, we would work cooperatively with the City staff and consultants on responding to comments received on the Draft EIR in a manner that would be complete and informative, as well as satisfy all requirements of CEQA. We expect that we would help review and evaluate Project plans and reports, advise on entitlements issues and provide input for staff reports. Naturally, we would be readily available for meetings and phone calls with the City team, and would be pleased to consult with the City Attorney and others on the foregoing and any additional tasks with which we might assist. Our experience with the subject matter of land use and CEQA compliance is broad and deep, allowing us to take whatever limited role (more surgical) or expanded role (such as drafting EIR responses, staff reports and findings, or Project agreements) would prove most beneficial to the City in this instance. We would expect to attend public hearings and would be prepared, if useful, to respond to questions or make presentations at such hearings.
The primary proposed members of our team would be Matthew Francois and me, ably assisted as needed by our colleagues Stephen Cassidy and Deborah Kartiganer. Matt and Steve and I all assisted the City with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) proposed hospital entitlement process, including General Plan and zoning amendments, a detailed EIR and a comprehensive Development Agreement. Matt and Debbie and I most recently have been working with the City to defend the Negative Declaration prepared under CEQA for the Highlands Park turf replacement project. The biographies of all four of us are attached, and I can unequivocally commit to our team’s continued availability to work with the City until the completion of the Project. In addition, with our team’s recent move to Sedgwick, we have at hand the expertise of lawyers in many other disciplines, should the need ever arise. The varied expertise of our lawyers includes such fields as real estate transactions, hazardous materials, construction, real estate and other complex litigation, employment and insurance.
We firmly believe, and we hope that you will conclude, that our team is well qualified to represent the City of San Carlos in this most interesting and key project. I personally have been actively and happily practicing land use law in Northern California for 24 years and Matt has been in the land use legal field for 14 years. We are deeply familiar with and have expertise applying and complying with pertinent federal., state and local laws, rules and regulations. We are well regarded as experts (and sometimes serve as expert witnesses) in all aspects of CEQA compliance. We have counseled scores of clients on preparing EIRs, Negative Declarations and exemptions at the administrative level, and also frequently represent public agencies or developers in CEQA litigation (at the trial and appellate court levels). In addition to advising clients every day on the finer points of CEQA compliance, we also keep up with trends and changes in the law by participating in the state legislative and regulatory amendment processes and writing arnicus briefs on key CEQA issues.
Our team has had the honor of working with numerous municipalities over the years, acting as special counsel on complex and controversial projects. A list of those projects, as well as references for each, is attached for your detailed consideration. Please do not hesitate to contact any listed individual. As you will see, we have worked with cities on some complex, high-profile, mixed-use projects, including the Gateway development in Orinda and the long-evolving plans for the Waterfront Lands in Albany. These projects included comprehensive EIRs, substantial public involvement and preparation and negotiation of Development Agreements. Naturally, virtually every project on the list has encountered complex traffic impact issues, and several of our projects for cities have involved historic resources under CEQA.
Examples of historic resources issues have included the EIR Addendum and findings to support the proposed demolition of Steve Jobs’s historic home in the Town of Woodside; advising the City of Oakland on the effect of new development on existing historic resources (including historic districts) in the CEQA context; and assisting the City of Burlingame with addressing impacts to potential historic homes or potential historic districts. We feel well versed in all topic areas that the City is facing and will likely face with respect to completing the EIR and considering entitlements for the Project.
In addition to our pertinent municipality experience, our group benefits from a 360 degree perspective that we find most helpful. We represent numerous private landowners and developers in the land use process, and we find that such experience better enables us to advise municipal clients, both in terms of legal issues and business terms. The attached list sets forth a mere few of the private projects with which we have been deeply involved and that we think are most relevant to the Project. These include the mixed-use, controversial projects of redeveloping Jack London Square in Oakland and constructing the large Bay Street Project in Emeryville. Both of these projects included full scale EIRs and multiple layers of project approvals and permits The Jack London Square project included development adjacent to and surrounding the historic Heinold’s Saloon, and the Bay Street project affected the largest known Native American burial ground on the West Coast. Our firm is currently working for the developer of a proposed transit village in Hayward, and our experience there could be directly applicable to certain issues that arise on the Project. Note that in our recent work with Simon Property on the proposed retail, restaurant and hotel expansion of the Stanford Shopping Center, we worked with Trixie Martelino from PBS&J as the EIR consultant and Whitney McNair from Metropolitan Planning Group as the outside project planner; we think highly of both of these firms and individuals and would relish the chance to work with them here.
As to the budget, your letter specifies a not-to-exceed figure of $50,000. In order to stretch your legal services dollars and increase the number of hours that could be billed for such a fee, we would propose to bill the City at lower hourly rates than our current rates for the PAIVIF matter and equal to or less than our rates for the Highlands Park matter. As such, we propose the following rates: $400 per hour for Stephen Cassidy and for me; $325 per hour for Matthew Francois; and $300 per hour for Deborah Kartiganer. These rates are more than 10% lower than the standard rate for each of us. With such rates in place and given the likely seivices that the City would require, we would be able to spend approximately 50 hours working on the EIR and related issues, 10 hours analyzing Project documents and reports, 25 hours attending team meetings and strategizing and advising the City, 30 hours commenting on and assisting with staff reports, findings and Project approval documents, and 20 hours attending public hearings. Naturally, these are estimates only and easily could be shifted around to meet the City’s needs. I and the others on my team thoroughly enjoy acting as special counsel to municipalities, working in a cooperative manner with City staff members, the City Attorney and consultant teams in an open and professional atmosphere in which we can all participate and add our expertise to end up with a work product that is legally sufficient and satisfies the City’s objectives. We pride ourselves on writing clearly and concisely, delivering oral presentations as needed in an organized and informative fashion (including thinking on our feet and responding to the inevitable surprising queries), adhering to deadlines in order to ensure timely publication of required data and reports, and responding quickly to unexpected issues as they arise. As noted at the outset, we are familiar with and greatly respect the San Carlos team (both professional and elected members) and would welcome the opportunity to join it.
Please feel more than free to call or email at any time to further discuss this matter or to seek clarification on any element of this proposal.
Anna C Shimko
Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold T.T,P