On Monday, the Livermore City Council voted to commit open space mitigation revenues for open space acquisition, maintenance and management, as well as environemtal and habitat enhancement on city owned open space.
The vote was unanimous.
The city owns approximately 300 acres in the Springtown Alkai Sink area and 198 acres in Doolan Canyon. There are no dedicated funds to maintain and manage the properties.
Currently, the city is studying the feasilibty of establishing a mitigation bank for the Springtown properties. There is an agreement for turnkey mitigation (land under easement already) to sell a conservation easement on the Doolan Canyon land. The mitigation is required as part of the Camp Parks development in Dublin.
Both a bank and turnkey mitigation result in permanent preservation. In addition, they generate revenue for the city. According to planner Andy Ross, initial assessment of establishing a bank indicates the city will generate approximately $3 million to $4 million in revenue over time. The Doolan Canyon turnkey mitigation will generate approximately $1.4 million.
He pointed out that open space properties owned by the city often lack funding for management and maintenance. At the same time, the city is responsible for properties it owns. Clean up and maintenance costs are born by the general fund. If the revenue from the mitigation sale were committed to open space acquisition, management and maintenance, the funds would cover those costs, with no impact on the general fund.
In addition to conserving natural resources, this type of active resource management protects the economic value of the property and makes the property more attractive for future mitigation sales, according Ross.
Mitigation sales do not always include an entire property, leaving areas that can be sold in the future.
Livermore Mayor John Marchand pointed out that the city used $10 million to purchase land in Doolan Canyon and received $12 million for burrowing owl mitigation. The city still owns the land.
Councilmember Stewart Gary said he likes the policy intent. He wanted to see a permanent line item in future budgets listing the funds and their use. "Maintaining the land is the responsible thing to do as a land owner," he commented.