Brea’s Folly, Part 6: Manley’s “Domino Theory” Hard Sell — and How to Respond to It

Manleyzilla and Tower Records BuildingHere’s the big argument we’ll hear from the people who want us to pay for the parking structure, which I call the “Domino Effect.” Like many hard sells, it uses flimsy evidence and misdirection to say that if you don’t do what the salesperson wants you to do, it will lead to TOTAL DISASTER! It goes something like this:

(1) “If we don’t get a new Downtown parking structure east of Brea Blvd., the Improv will leave — and then other leases that say “you can terminate this lease if the Improv (or some other tenant) leaves” will ALSO leave — the “Domino Effect” — and then Downtown will become a ghost town. And we’ll just let it happen.”

(2) You might wonder, “but are there other Comedy Club chains out there who might be willing to move in if they leave?” You won’t get an answer. It’s not clear if anyone has even asked! (And, as you’ll see from the Staff Report, the evidence that the Improv will leave is pretty thin — and comes from a VERY biased party.)

(3) While the Downtown Owners promise to spend a lot of money refurbishing their buildings to attract new tenants, they and their tenants would get the lion’s share of the benefit from that. The City? We get our lamb’s share of part of the sales tax. How long would it take for that to pay off the money we’d spend here? They don’t like to talk about it, but it would be decades — IF all goes according to their optimistic predictions.

(4) That suggests a possible solution. The Downtown Owners don’t want to do ANYTHING significant to protect the City if their predictions turn out to be wrong. They think that saving people from having to cross Brea Blvd. is a HUGE benefit to them — but they wouldn’t want to charge them a measly $2 for weekend evening parking in exchange for that convenience! Well, what if the City takes out a municipal bond — always in great demand because they’re tax-free for investors — and the Downtown Owners guarantee the profits they promised by using the title to $13 million of Downtown property as collateral, in case things turn out badly? If they want to essentially use the City as a bank, then they should have to TREAT the City like it’s a bank — not as some sort of rich uncle from whom they want a nice big gift and who never really expects a return from it.

(5) If this deal is as good for the City as the Downtown Owners say it is, then they should make sure that, however much they stand to gain, the City AT LEAST doesn’t end up losing money on it. If they won’t do that, then they don’t REALLY believe in what they’re trying to sell us. And if THEY don’t believe it, why should WE?

(6) Having a parking structure behind the Superblock stores would be nice. But it has risks — and the owners want to place most of the risks on us. We can work out a win-win deal here — in exchange for putting up collateral, owners could get a rebate of some of the City’s portion of the sales tax above a certain level. That’s what smart businesses do — they hedge their bets. And they don’t give in to hard sells from abusive salespeople!

If the owners think that this is such a good deal that it has to take priority over all of Brea’s other needs, they can prove it. If they can sell their property for a profit if things don’t work and stick the City with payments for an unnecessary parking structure, then they kist might do it — or ask for FURTHER concessions in a year or give or ten. If they want this deal, they should put more skin in the game!


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)