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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 5:09 pm | Fair 65º


Ron Fink: Eva Blaisdell and the California Space Center Blast Off Again

Well, what do you know? As the election approaches and candidates search for “issues,” up pops Eva Blaisdell promising the moon if only we would elect John Linn as Lompoc mayor and his sidekick Jim Mosby as a council member.

You all remember what happened last time.

Linn stood tall the last time Blaisdell made big promises, and he swallowed her pitch hook, line and sinker just like the previous overrated and empty proposal.

In February 2015 Noozhawk reported that after nearly two years of unsubstantiated proposals, “Despite what staff called a significantly flawed proposal lacking details about the team proposing to develop a space center in Lompoc, the City Council agreed [Feb. 3] to move toward entering into exclusive negotiations with the group led [Blaisdell]”.

The Noozhawk report continues that Teresa Gallavan, the city of Lompoc’s economic development director and assistant city manager, cited more than a dozen ways the request for qualifications was incomplete or missing the “evidence of ability,” requested as part of the process to ensure the project succeeds.

An update in May clearly indicated that “staff were awaiting evidence of registration to do business in California, California Space Center formation documentation including by-laws, and proof signing authority.”

In other words, Blaisdell’s limited liability company didn’t have authority to do business in California yet. This one issue was resolved quickly with the Secretary of State the day after the council meeting, but other basic but serious issues remained unresolved.

But none of this seemed to worry Linn. In fact he narrated a slick video that was specially prepared for the May 19 council meeting. In it, Linn makes many claims, such as the prediction that “3,000 jobs will be created by her project.”

Yet another bold and unsustainable claim. Do you realize how many square feet of commercial space would be required to support 3,000 jobs? According to a UC Berkley study it would take over 2 million square feet of work space to accommodate this many workers!

Blaisdell was also promising to put an IMAX theater at the old drive-in theater site on North H Street. The only problem was that she never contacted the owner of the property, and when asked he said he had no interest in the project.

Linn was no longer mayor and a new team had been elected. Now the council didn’t seem willing to allow the process to continue until Blaisdell could prove that she had the authority to sign for the three unknown “managing members” of the LLC registered in Delaware.

A motion to enter into a 12-month exclusive negotiating agreement passed 5-0 but direction was given to validate her claims.

She let them down, and Sept. 17, 2015, following a closed session discussion of Blaisdell’s latest submittals, Noozhawk reported that “The city of Lompoc has sent the developer of the ambitious California Space Center project a letter of default after she failed to submit 14 items of information by the 30- and 60-day deadlines.”

The council agreed in a public meeting by a vote of 3-2 to end their relationship with Blaisdell.

Linn was unhappy, and one of his surrogates submitted a claim to the district attorney that the council had violated the Ralph M. Brown Act by discussing this issue in closed session.

Last time Blaisdell promised to build both a space center and revive the old drive in theater on North H Street. Now she is promising to build a fire station and upgrade the police station.

Once again, she has big plans and is relying on a change on the City Council, meaning the election of Linn/Mosby, to allow her to leverage city property for her own benefit.

Her track record at providing verifiable proof that she can deliver is spotty at best, but always a man of big ideas with no follow through, Linn has consistently demonstrated that he will turn to hucksters in order to score political points.

And while he announces his big ideas with a flourish, he blames others when they fall flat.

We all want great things for Lompoc, but turning over development rights to someone who has consistently misrepresented her prospectus is troubling. For potential leaders to buy in to the smoke and mirrors approach to development is even more troubling.

This election is important — we don’t need any more hucksters leading the city.

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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