CONCORD -- Weighing in publicly for the first time, Rep. Mark DeSaulnier expressed concern about what he views as the current lack of competitiveness in the city's search for a developer for the Concord Naval Weapons Station.
Last week, Catellus Development Corp. withdrew its bid, leaving the city with only Lennar Urban's proposal.
Although DeSaulnier, D-Concord, does not explicitly call for restarting the search in his April 1 letter to Mayor Laura Hoffmeister, he said he is concerned the selection process has been "fundamentally undermined."
"A competitive selection process is essential to ensuring the best possible deal is reached for the citizens of the city of Concord," the letter states. "With only one company remaining, this is no longer possible."
Guy Bjerke, director of community reuse planning, said the process remains competitive because the city is using Catellus' financial proposal to extract better terms from Lennar.
At a meeting Tuesday, the council is scheduled to review Lennar's proposal to develop the first phase of the former military base. City staff have recommended that the council renegotiate several deal points with the company, including funding for affordable housing and improvements to Willow Pass Road.
"We think what staff's recommending to the council (Tuesday) night is in keeping with the congressman's letter relative to pausing the process and making sure the selected master developer is providing the best possible value to the project," Bjerke said Monday.
Furthermore, the city retains its leverage because the council could reject Lennar and restart the process of finding a developer, Bjerke said. Kofi Bonner, president of Lennar Urban, has said he is willing to accept the financial terms Catellus had proposed.
Hoffmeister could not be reached for comment Monday.
On Monday, DeSaulnier said the process seemed to be going well until the city was poised to choose the developer and abruptly pulled the staff's recommendation for Catellus. That decision, he said, has cast doubt over how the final selection is being made.
"Why did three members of the City Council put pressure on the city manager to withdraw the staff recommendation? In the 15 or 16 years I've been in local government I've never heard of anything like that," DeSaulnier said. "They've never explained that. I think they need to."
Lisa P. White covers Concord and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.