In 2008, the school district formed a 7/11 Committee, an advisory committee pursuant to California Ed Code which governs the use and sale of surplus school district properties to advise the school district regarding an alternative use for District surplus or real property prior to its disposition by sale, lease, or rental. According to Ed Code, this committee shall consist of not less than seven (7) nor more than eleven (11) members. The committee must represent a cross-section of the community.
This is similar to the situation at Grande where the school district got caught playing fast and loose with the law under a scheme in which it would swap Grande for property outside of the city at the Fairfield School. That scheme was perpetrated by the former Superintendent David Murphy and former CBO Tahir Ahad. However, the district would eventually reverse itself, retain the property, and then worked diligently with the neighbors to come up with a subdivided and entitled property that the district can now sell.
The district due to the down turn in the real estate market has not acted to sell Nugget Fields. The Duffels sold Wildhorse to Wildhorse Group LLC, but prior to that, they had originally agreed to an MOU back in September 1994 with the city of Davis and the school district.
According to the Davis Enterprise on Sunday, “the Duffels’ attorney, J. Dennis McQuaid of San Francisco, maintains that the MOU included a provision to identify a 9-acre school site as a condition of the city’s approval of the Wildhorse project.”
If construction of the school had not commenced by June 30, 2009, the MOU supposedly would allow the Duffels the right to repurchase the school at the price paid by the district at the time.
When the Wildhorse owners came to an agreement with the city, they donated $300,000 to the city’s open space fund and the parcel of land to the Davis School District in exchange for expedited building permits.
Writes the Davis Enterprise:
“The Duffels’ current claim, filed March 3, appears to be based on a contention that even though they conveyed the Wildhorse development agreement to another company in 1995, they did not give up the right to ultimately reclaim the property under the terms of the 1994 MOU. “
The school district maintains that the 1999 MOU with the Wildhorse Group supercedes the 1994 MOU with the Duffels.
From the standpoint of this community, the Duffels do it no favors and their timing for this action could not possibly be worse. The district is cash strapped for general fund dollars. The district cannot use surplus property for general fund money, but can use it for facility upgrades. Nugget Fields is one of the very few assets the district owns that it can use for its vast facility needs.
Moreover as the district contends, it is unclear that the MOU between the district and the Duffels would survive the ownership change. Clearly the Wildhorse Group LLC made their own agreement to donate it to the school district thereby suggesting that they had gained control of the 9-acre parcel and that should have negated any previous agreements. It is unclear how that MOU could possibly survive the change in ownership.
Thus the claim that the Duffels has seems specious to begin with. All this action by the Duffels will do is consume the school district in legal matters, when it should be figuring out how to save money and maximize its return for its surplus property in order to best serve the students of this school district and the community.
The Duffels show themselves to be selfish and greedy. There is nothing to be gained by pursuing this other than denying the school district the means to upgrade their facilities.
This manuevre will ultimately fail and all it will succeed in doing is causing the district some headaches trying to combat it while bringing out a large amount of ill-will to the Duffels who will be viewed by most in the community as greedy villains.
It is one thing to have land use disputes in a community, but when a developer attempts to use a legal loophole to gain land to be used for development at the expense of the school district, this community will frown upon it and it seems likely that even in the most remote possibility that they succeed, the community will not forget this transgression and allow this outrage to stand.
—David M. Greenwald reporting