Turtle Bay Land Sale Issue is Headed to November’s General Election

Drawing of the proposed hotel  at Turtle Bay Exploration Park.

Redding voters will decide in November whether 14.7 acres of public land at Turtle Bay Exploration Park will be sold to the McConnell Foundation, a transaction that would allow Turtle Bay to build a four-star hotel free of prevailing wage obligations.

The Redding City Council voted 5-0 Tuesday night to put the matter on the Nov. 4 General Election ballot. It was the first, and possibly the last, unanimous vote in connection with the controversial land sale and proposed Sheraton hotel.

A dozen speakers, supporters and opponents alike, addressed the council and lobbied for the Nov. 4 election date. “Place it on the ballot and let’s get this thing built,” said Rocky Slaughter, head of the pro-hotel group REVIVE (Redding Empowered to Vote for Increased Visitors and Employment).

The council, which voted 3-2 on March 4 to sell the land to McConnell for $600,000, was reacting to a referendum asking the council to either cancel the sale or put it to a vote of Redding residents.

The petition for referendum was supported by construction unions and led by the Northeastern California Building & Construction Trades Council, whose members vigorously oppose Turtle Bay’s plans to not pay prevailing wages during construction of the hotel.

Turtle Bay officials contend the hotel is needed to augment the museum’s revenue in the wake of a recession and the loss of financial support from the city of Redding. If the private McConnell Foundation purchases the land and provides it for the hotel, Turtle Bay would not be subject to prevailing wage requirements. Paying prevailing wages would make the hotel too expensive, museum officials say.

The council had three options, according to City Clerk Pam Mize: repeal the March 4 resolution approving the sale, call for a special election, or place the issue on the Nov. 4 consolidated municipal ballot.

A special election would cost the city an estimated $200,000, compared to an estimated $40,000 to have the issue placed on the General Election ballot, Mize said. The McConnell Foundation has agreed to reimburse the city for any election expenses tied to the referendum.

If the kerfuffle over a simple description of the ballot item is any indication, the Turtle Bay land sale/hotel project campaign promises to be a long and feisty one. At issue Tuesday was the phrasing of the central question:

Should the resolution selling 14.7 acres within the 60 acres currently leased to Turtle Bay for $600,000, “an amount which exceeds the highest appraised value of the city’s leased-fee interest by $157, 000,” be adopted?

Councilman Gary Cadd said the mention of the appraisal clouded the issue and lent the project an unfair sense of extra value. The city has already spent $80,000 on the project, he noted. “The $157,000 is not telling the whole story,” he said.

Councilwoman Francie Sullivan countered that the issue has been thoroughly clouded already, thanks in part to misleading statements made by the people collecting signatures for the referendum. She said she talked to people who were told the appraised value of the land was actually $4 million, or that both the museum and the rodeo arena would be torn down to make way for the hotel.

“It’s important we add that there was an appraisal,” Sullivan said.

Mayor Rick Bosetti, who joined Sullivan and Councilwoman Missy McArthur in voting for the sale, said the figures cited in the ballot question are correct. The problem, he said, is that some people refuse to accept the fact that the land in question is tied up in an 88-year lease to the Alliance of Redding Museums.

A motion to delete the appraisal figure from the ballot question failed on a 3-2 vote with Cadd and Councilman Patrick Jones in the minority. The council also voted unanimously to let the designated proponents and opponents write the respective ballot arguments.


Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at jonpaullewis@gmail.com.

Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at jonpaullewis@gmail.com.
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12 Responses

  1. Avatar Grammy says:

    Just seems hypocritical for the city of Redding to be behind a union free zone with the building of this hotel. City and county worker pay and retirements are bankrupting counties all over the nation. Is the building of this bloated hotel going to put big bucks into the coffers of their pay? There seems to be a hidden agenda to every that Redding does. What is it here?
    Seems that Shasta County already has enough jobs for low wages. Why add this hotel to the mix? Union jobs out side of City, County and State members are just starting to get some steam here in Shasta County again. Why would Redding want to become known as union busters kind of town?
    Seems we already have a hard enough bad rep to overcome.

  2. Avatar Pamela says:

    What is bankrupting the nation is NOT hard-working folks, unions or retirement packages for these folks BUT the banksters, the CEOs who make 400 times per hour what an employee makes, tax breaks for the rich and Wall Street.

    • Avatar aBrady says:

      Thank you, Pamela, for bring up this fact. I am so tired of hearing the Wall Street/Corporate message of blaming the economic problems of this country on the middle class, public workers and union folks. When I hear local poorly paid folks jump on that bandwagon, I shake my head in total amazement.

  3. Avatar JRD says:

    “Duff & Phelps, the firm responsible for the third and final appraisal, determined the value to be $4.39 million were the long-term master lease on the land not factored in.”

    All parties have admitted the lease on the small 5 acre parcel does not have an affect on the value of the 14.17 acres being sold for $600,000.00.

    A poster on the R/S called it an eye wash factor (the lease). It appears the people of Redding are being deluded about the value of their property.

  4. Avatar Scompy says:

    ‘Something’ is definitely up here….the well paid spin-doctors are spin tales as fast as they can…now they even have to hire more ‘hoodwink’ pros from Sac. Mark Warren was supposed to only be @ Turtle Bay for a very short time while they found a new director…a nice place to hide out while the Sex Scandal @ city hall a couple of yrs ago cooled off…Remember when they ‘dissed’ our beautiful Convention Center ..? saying it was awful and should be torn down.. moved in Bethel and now sing the Center’s praises…
    If I hear ‘Build a Four Star Hotel’ one more time I’m going to scream.. You don’t ‘BUILD A FOUR STAR HOTEL’. But you can fool some of the people some of the time…dangling that ‘term’ to ‘sell’ them..to fulfill your hidden agenda…..
    Four-Star Hotel Definition; (it is mostly ‘service’ not a building)
    The Forbes, formerly Mobil, Travel Guide has used a star system to rank hotels since 1958. Many travel websites have their own star rating systems, offering little consistency from site to site, but the Forbes/Mobil ratings use well-established criteria.
    Service is all-important at Mobil four- and five-star hotels. The staff is judged on courtesy, knowledge, efficiency, promptness, comportment and anticipation of guests’ needs.
    Beds have high-quality linens, including either washable duvets or triple sheeting. Pillows are luxurious and numerous. Turndown service is provided.
    Showers do not have plastic curtains, and fine toiletries are beautifully displayed. The space is more than adequate for two people, with plenty of storage. Robes and towels are plush.
    An on-site restaurant offers a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. Room service arrives within 30 minutes, and within five minutes of the promised delivery time.
    Hotel Amenities
    A four-star hotel offers a fitness center with televisions. It has a concierge desk and at least two complimentary newspapers for guests. Same-day laundry or dry cleaning service is available. The lobby and public restrooms are richly appointed, with fresh flowers or live plants

  5. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    It’s the ultimate twofer. Privatize public property–subsidizing the sale by underpricing the property–so you can not pay your workers a living wage, which they would earn if it remains public property. Redding needs better paying jobs to get the local economy going, not dubious four-star hotels subsidized by tax dollars at the expense of fair wages.

  6. Avatar Solid says:

    Redding would be a better place if wage rates were higher. Residents would have more money to spend in the local economy. Wage earners come out ahead. Job seekers would be more motivated. Business owners would have more customers with spending cash.

  7. Avatar Ron says:

    unions build it…….non unions run it. Interesting

  8. Avatar david kerr says:

    McConnell is crazy for even considering investing in Redding, Chico or Yuba. If their charter permits, they should move to Reno, like so many companies. That would set a good example and inspire others to work on their exit strategy from liberal California.

  9. Avatar KarenC says:

    I agree with Scompy…about the 4 star hotel. I kept hearing the term used and knew the four star is not earned when building is finished but rather it is earned by the service they provide and the amenities. I have followed this story since the beginning and cannot understand how the hotel is going to succeed. What will be the draw? What will make it a destination point? What chef will they hire to make the restaurant a real draw locally, and from out of town and maintain that draw for years to come?

    We’ve lived in Redding and been in business here for over 50 years, and I just don’t get it. It will be a true gift if it did succeed and was able to help support Turtle Bay…but I sincerely have my doubts.

    As for the comment from David Kerr…McConnell is not crazy for investing in Redding. It is a beautiful area, and would not be so, had the foundation not been here to help guide and oversee many of the projects. Many good things have happened through the grants from the McConnell’s. I say this from experience and from receiving a grant from them during the time I worked for the City of Redding. I was able to develop and achieve success with some great programs as a result of the grant.

  10. Avatar rumadyet says:

    Who will stay there? Bethel; big wigs of course. Really!! You don’t see that this town is full of religious crazies , where you get through Target or shopping without someone saying God sent them to talk to a women in a yellow shirt. And then the pot farmers, not much longer will they be here. I don’t mind them, they leave me alone. And spend money. Bethel takes it. Really what does Bethel not own.? I think it is quite convenient it is so close to Turtle Bay another private place.