Tagami in Default on $12 Million City Loan

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Councilmembers are raising concerns that Phil Tagami’s company Rotunda Partners II has not begun making payments on 20-year, $12 million loan from the city to develop a parking garage, retail space, and temporary parking lot next to the Rotunda building across from Oakland City Hall.

The city has yet to receive the $20,000 a month payments on the loan, which were scheduled to start in November. City staff is also checking whether the project is technically in compliance with the contract.

Speaking at Tuesday’s Community and Economic Development (CED) meeting, Councilmember Lynette McElhaney called for city staff to enforce penalties on Tagami’s company, which has not yet been sent a notice of default for nonpayment.

< p>The informational report presented at the CED meeting said the company is currently technically in default, said McElhaney.

“I would want to see staff put really strong timelines that are transparent and can be monitored with respect to getting people on track and to respond timely,” she said. “ I would also like to see some level of penalty for failure to perform.”

At least one community member is continuing to question whether the original agreement with Tagami’s company was a fair deal for the city.

“This is fraud, this is a gift of public land,” said Oakland resident Gene Hazzard, speaking at Tuesday’s meeting.

Neither Tagami nor a representative of his company came to the meeting to explain why the payments on the loan have not been made.

Councilmembers also raised questions about the city’s deal with Tagami.

“We let that [Rotunda] property go for $297, essentially nothing. What did the city get in exchange?” Asked Councilmember Pat Kernighan. “I think that really is the question. Was that a fair deal or was that not a fair deal: that’s for us the city as a whole to answer. Why was that a good thing to do?”

“My understanding is because we want to stimulate economic development that would not have occurred otherwise,” she added.

Referring to questions raised by Hazzard, Councilmember Desley Brooks said documents related to the Rotunda agreement should be made public.

“If you were concerned about whether or not an evaluation was done and truly whether or not there was a gift of public funds, then we should pull forth those documents,” she said.

“It is disconcerting that it took a resident of the city to raise issues that should have come from somebody in administration, that it took over a year to have these concerns responded to,” Brooks added

“We need to look at our policies and procedures and make sure that when we enforce, we do that on an equal basis because when we don’t, it causes problems with the public’s trust,” she said.

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