• Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

— "Is this what's known as an owner-participation effort or offer?"

"Yes."

During cross-examination, assistant U.S. attorney Paul Cook asked Greenwood whether Councilwoman Donna Frye had shown an eagerness similar to Zucchet's to get rid of Les Girls and the Body Shop. A small part of the North Bay Redevelopment Project Area lies in Frye's District 6.

"No, her focus was very different," Greenwood replied. "Her agenda for District 6 and the North Bay redevelopment was more concerned for helping small businesses. She was very suspicious... about any heavy-handed use of redevelopment."

"By 'heavy-handed,' " inquired Cook, "you mean she had some concerns, perhaps, about this condemnation procedure that Mr. Coughlan asked you about, where the city goes in and condemns property and then buys out someone whether they want to sell or not?"

"Absolutely. And, in addition, I think she is reluctant to support any large redevelopment real estate project," said Greenwood. "She just has a distrust of developers, if I may say."

Cook then asked whether Zucchet shared "those same views. [Did he] have a distrust of the heavy-handed use of condemnation procedures?"

"I didn't really get that sense from him. He seemed to want aggressive and forthright actions from the Redevelopment Agency," said Greenwood.

To better appreciate Greenwood's candor while under oath, we jump to late December 2004. That's when Greenwood wrote to the owners of the "opportunity sites" -- ten parcels between Kurtz and Hancock Streets behind Les Girls and the Body Shop. In the letter, Greenwood told the owners that he had received on December 14 an official, "unsolicited" written proposal to build condominiums on their properties from business neighbor Bill Kenton, owner of 40 percent of the land in question. Although none of the owners except Kenton had ever heard of the city's designs on their area, Greenwood gave them 30 days to sign on to the new proposal, agreeing to sell to Kenton, or to draw up and present their own owner-participation offer. In other words, the majority of the owners were to receive a month to develop an owner-participation offer like the one that Kenton had been collaborating on with the city since the previous February.

In response to the letter, Joe Fritzenkotter, owner of Vanard Lithographics, one of the targeted businesses and employer of 100 skilled workers, told me he invited Greenwood to tour his facilities in January 2005. He mentioned to Greenwood that once, during the previous year, Bill Kenton had made an offer to buy his property but without suggesting the deal was part of city redevelopment plans. It therefore took Fritzenkotter aback several months later, he says he told Greenwood, when Kenton "hinted" that the city might take his property in an eminent domain action if he continued refusing to sell. "Greenwood said that I must have misunderstood," said Fritzenkotter, "that eminent domain was not being considered."

Greenwood's letter to the business owners eventually provoked a storm of protest among all of them except Kenton. On March 21, 2005, a subcommittee of the North Bay Redevelopment Project Area Committee met to hear their complaints and make a recommendation. During the meeting, Chris Clifford, who owns a small share in one affected business, accused Greenwood and Kenton of working behind the backs of the other owners. Greenwood denied it. But the subcommittee recommended that the Kenton proposal be rejected.

On March 29, Greenwood appeared with Kenton and Vanard Lithographics representative Rene Coons on the KPBS program Full Focus. The show's host, Gloria Penner, asked how well the redevelopment plan for the Body Shop and Les Girls area was being received. Greenwood suggested that people in the area were excited about change.

Almost three months later, Greenwood was testifying under oath in the councilmen's trial. In between, court records show, the FBI interviewed him concerning his conversations with Zucchet. Although both Greenwood and Cunningham resigned their positions over the spring and summer, proponents of the redevelopment plan are going ahead with what they now call "the Gateway Project." On December 15, the North Bay Redevelopment Project Area Committee will elect nine new members; the committee will then have to address "Gateway" again.

  • Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

More from SDReader

Comments

Sign in to comment

Join our
newsletter list

Enter to win $25 at Broken Yolk Cafe

Each newsletter subscription
means another chance to win!

Close