News

Nonprofits face new city leases

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

Four non-profit organizations will have to approve a new lease deal for their facilities after a split decision by the La Habra City Council Monday.
The Gary Center, Help for Brain Injured Children, The Community Resource Care Center and the Historical Museum are housed in city-owned buildings and will now be offered a five-year lease, with an additional five year lease with mutual agreement for the facilities.
The organizations have been operating on a one-year lease for the last 20-30 years according to Kent Roberts, president of the La Habra Old Settlers Historical Society, which oversees the museum, and presenting a case for the nonprofits to the council. Roberts had been asking the city for 19-year leases for each of the nonprofit groups.
“They just want to have more time so they can do what they do in the community,” Roberts said.
However, the city did not want that long of term.
Mayor Pro-Tem Tom Beamish said that he didn’t want to make the decisions for future city councils.
Council members seemed in agreement that they don’t foresee a time where the city council would ever evict the nonprofits from the properties, which fueled Roberts’ argument for the longer term.
Councilman Tim Shaw cast the dissenting vote against the five-year lease. Councilman Jim Gomez abstained from the voting and left the council chamber because he felt more open discussion with the nonprofits needed to take place before a lease offer was made.
The city council also agreed that the nonprofits in the city-owned buildings will have to be fully responsible for paying their utilities (something they had not done in the past). This is projected to allow the city to save approximately $21,500 per year.
A point that Shaw agreed was right.
“If you are paying the bills yourself, you will naturally be more responsible and shut off lights when not in use and not blast the AC during the summer and so on,” he explained.

The nonprofit tenants will continue to pay the annual $1 fee for the use of the facilities. The non-profit organizations have helped pay a large percentage of the capital improvements for each of the facilities, the most being HBIC with approximately $1.4 million spent over the years on upkeep and the Gary Center with just under $1 million.
Roberts cited a long-term lease is beneficial for non-profit organizations as they seek grants and endowments to help with their operational funding.  He agreed that the five-plus-five year lease helps, but reiterated that a 19-year lease would even be better for this cause.
All have a 90-day termination clause and the council established that termination by either party had to be approved by a four-fifths vote of the council, in an effort to ensure greater stability.
The Museum had an additional stipulation in the lease that if the council were to terminate the lease, a new, suitable location for the museum would need to be found.
The leases will now be formally presented to the organizations for their approval and signatures.

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.