Why is a new law needed to entice the State to sell the Agnews property to Santa Clara Unified School District for use as a k-12 campus? The existing State Surplus Property law specifies that local agencies, including school districts, have the first right to purchase surplus property, at a fair market price. But the State chose to ignore this law for whatever reason. After almost two years of due diligence evaluation, including an independent appraisal, the school district came up with a price of $45 million. The Department of General Services worked hand in hand with the district this entire time. The State even agreed to the methodology used in the appraisal. It was only after the district completed its evaluation, and spent a lot of money, that the State presented its first appraisal of $61 million. The State’s appraisal was based on the land being obtained though eminent domain and used downtown Palo Alto property as a comparable, which resulted in a much higher appraisal. The State refused to submit their appraisal for either peer review or a third party appraisal. Either of which would have shown that the State was seriously overpricing the property. The Governor has been complicit in this logic all along. How did the State all of a sudden get up to a price of $100 million? They seem to be moving the bar whenever the school district comes close to meeting their price. The State seems to think that a company will want the property and, in today’s economy, will pay an inflated price for it. Why would a company would want this property? Agnews has some buildings that are potential historic buildings that a business would have to account for, making their investment even more expensive and involving years of legal wrangling. The school district can’t obtain the land from the State through eminent domain, but if a business buys the property, the district can then use eminent domain to get the needed campus.
Even if the district submits the only or highest bid, the state has said that they do not need to accept it. The existing law should be respected by the State and Governor and the state should sell the property to the school district at the original $45 million fair market appraisal price because of all of the shenanigans the State has engaged in.