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A Cautionary Tail: Yucca Valley’s PFF White Elephant

By   /   May 23, 2012  /   29 Comments

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In regard to the PFF Old Bank Building, What a gutsy move…” 

The White Elephant is the old PFF Bank building, located across from Chase Bank in Yucca Valley. The City purchase it for NO reason. Some ignorant, very stupid, ill-informed hapless city council members wanted to play reality monopoly with taxpayers money. They overpaid for the building. The asbestos was a freebie. It could have been a upscale family restaurant serving the community and generating taxes. It remains dead property. Now that the town is forced to liquidate it rda properties, who wants to make an offer?

“There will be an economic loss, there is no question, to the taxpayers…”

PE: RIVERSIDE: City likely won’t recoup $49 million for parcels

Riverside officials say they expect to recover only a portion of the $49.44 million that the former redevelopment agency spent to buy 80 pieces of land that are now up for sale.

Some residents are frustrated by the predicted loss and critical of the former redevelopment agency for buying parcels and letting them sit idle, in some cases for six or seven years.

But redevelopment supporters argue that buying the properties allowed the agency to eliminate crime-ridden or rundown houses and businesses, benefits it’s hard to put a price on.

Under the state law that ended redevelopment, the city is required to put the bulk of its former redevelopment agency’s assets up for sale. Now officials are trying to sell 80 properties, broken into 26 groups of one or more parcels.

The city made a deal earlier this month to sell a parcel on Magnolia Avenue for $550,000. The redevelopment agency had paid $1.82 million to buy the land in 2007.

The sale price of other properties likely won’t be known until the city has them appraised.

“There will be an economic loss, there is no question, to the taxpayers of Riverside,” Councilman Mike Gardner said at a May 8 council meeting.

Full story

22 May 2012

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About the author

Branson Hunter

(This story was posted by Cactus Thorn contributor Branson Hunter)

"The ends do not justify the means." If you use illegal mean to accomplish a legal and even desirable result, the good result does not make the bad means you used justifiable.


  1. Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

    I’d give a nickel if you could stop using that same old tired Graphics on this story….. Come on there must be more white elephants out there..

  2. Done deal if you stop taunting family members of recent deceased loved ones.


  3. Mark Nuaimi Mark Nuaimi says:

    “It could have been a upscale family restaurant serving the community and generating taxes.”

    Really?? What “upscale family restaurant” was going to locate here?? There is this urban legend out there that someone was ready to locate there until the Redevelopment Agency purchased the building. The story seems to always point to El Pollo Loco as the business that was chased away.

    Now for some facts:

    1) El Pollo Loco has site requirements for locating a restaurant. As you’ll see from the requirements, this 7,300 sq-ft bank building is double the size required for that business. Here is the link to those requirements:


    2) The Agency selected a developer to market the building and to entertain offers for development. We indicated the community’s interest in a nice, sit-down restaurant to locate there. The developer was unsuccessful in marketing the site. Key issue — sewer system uncertainty.

    3) The commentary also says the “City” purchased the building. Just so folks understand that the Redevelopment Agency purchased the building using tax increment that cannot be used for General Fund services. Those dollars had to be used for Redevelopment purposes and the agency board at the time determined that controlling the land at the corner of the busiest intersection in Town was the right thing to do. It’s always easy to Monday morning quarterback … something I won’t do.

    4) The Successor Agency’s responsibility is to dispose of assets expeditiously to maximize the value to the taxing entities. Those are not consistent directives. It is the opinion of Town staff that the maximum value to the asset will occur AFTER sewer service is available. Since the Agency bonds cannot be retired before 2019, it gives the Successor Agency and the Oversight Board some time so that this isn’t a “fire sale”.

    • $$$$$-”Adminin$tration fee$ paid to wind down the RDA i$ the only benefit to the Town of Yucca Valley”-quote from one of the member$ of the Over$ight Board.

      Thu$$$$,$everal $taff member$ following their leader, will more than likely $$$$tretch thi$ out, ya think?

      With the incompetant Hi-Desert Water District leading the charge on the sewers, both General Managers have no utility or water experience, the sewers are only a pipe dream…no, make that a Bong.

      Regarding the PFF Bank, I like that graphic because it has branded the situation in Yucca Valley. All we need to do is brand the image with the letters…PFF. Or a sign that says, “How did I get here?”

      Disclaimer: This “folly purchase” took place B.N. (Before Nuaimi)and should NOT be a bad reflection on his accomplishments in Yucca Valley or his resume.

  4. Larry Briggs Larry Briggs says:

    Para 4. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  5. “We’re waiting for potential tenants to make an offer to locate to the site.”
    — Mark Nuaimi on February 21, 2011

    It ought have been pretty obvious to the council at that time, hardened with developers, builders and Realitors, the economy was the big problem. Nonetheless, the town overpaid about a half-million dollars for the so-called white elephant PFF building. Now it may sit there until 2019 and possibly beyond.

    I stand corrected about the restaurant. It was the El Pollo Loco/Farmers Brothers eatery establishments. In retrospect, a vacant building there is probably better than more Wall Street fast foods joint in Yucca Valley.

    The town is over saturated with Wall Street blight. Yucca Valley residents, its future generations, and its visitors deserve better.

    City Hall at that time got all warm and fuzzy about its rather crass plan to relocate the Yucca Valley Museum into the PFF building. But there was strong blow-back from the community. The community understood the town already had a perfectly good Museum. It would have been ludicrous to move it to save face.

    So since the town had the rda money, the thinking was we have to spend it somewhere. A Sabrina Investment spokswoman said, “We lost 30 jobs approximately due to your purchase…”

    Mark wrote, “The opinion of the Town staff that the maximum value to the asset will occur AFTER sewer service is available. Since the Agency bonds cannot be retired before 2019, it gives the Successor Agency and the Oversight Board some time so that this isn’t a “fire sale”.

    So it just sits there likely until 2019? The economy could worsen and it could sit there in perpetuity. Bad plan, stupid move. Waste of money. Rather than PFF being a tax asset the then city council made it a tax liability.

    The Chicken Link doesn’t establish anything much of anything other than they sell chicken meat in small buildings.

  6. WriterOne WriterOne says:

    Ref: Mark Nuaimi’s comment #3

    “…that the Redevelopment Agency purchased the building using tax increment..” which means taxpayer’s money by what ever title it is given.

    “…that cannot be used for General Fund services…” which means it CAN be used for other purposes declared by the agency having the controlling authority without the approval or denial of the affected taxpayer.

    “…The Successor Agency’s responsibility is to dispose of assets expeditiously to maximize the value to the taxing entities. Those are not consistent directives…” This statement means that the provider interprets what it alleges to mean, at the expense of the already burdened taxpayer. While the “loss of the RDA” funding is unfortunate, “controlling elected” are bound to follow the rule of law, not interpret the law to follow one’s self-serving agenda, ultimately at the expense of… you guessed it, the taxpayer.

    In the latter… “…to maximize the value to the taxing entities…” is simply a statement of one of the reasons for the “dispose of assets expeditiously…”. That “maximize” statement is not an escape route to bolster the coffers of others.

    “…It is the opinion of Town staff that the maximum value to the asset will occur AFTER sewer service is available.” First of all, the “opinion” is worthless against the mandate to dispose of the property. Attempting to straddle the taxpayer with additional and continuous expenses for “administration” of an ongoing attempt to poke holes in the “rule of law” is self-serving the elected who, at taxpayer expense, can and do, hire consultants and legal experts to interpret the “rule of law” to suit the elected’s self-serving agenda. Any good first year lawyer can cause the word “IF” to mean something it doesn’t, in a court of law, given enough money and time.

    Stop with all the “fighting” over how to beat the system. Take it in the shorts and move onward… forget yesterday and work on tomorrow.


  7. Commissioner Gordon Commissioner Gordon says:

    If any restaurant is interested in Yucca Valley, I am sure that not getting the old PFF building would not stop them from coming here. I understand this is a blog, not a legitimate news source but printing rumors that don’t make any sense will not make you look good. Replace the picture of a white elephant with one of a dead horse, it has been beat to death, lets move on.

  8. Well Mr. Gorden, whoever you are, you just used the oldest trick in the book.
    Alleging there are rumors — without providing any substance — and not stating what you take issue with goes to credibility. This is a stale trick of crafty bureaucrats learned very early.

    Kindly state what you are talking about so we can examine it, and whom you are addressing. Otherwise you have zero credibility and should not be taken serious. And your missed the threshold issues: The economy tanked and the hapless town council overpaid for the PFF building by about $500,000. Now it just sits there like a scarlet letter. Fact or rumor? Answer: Fact.

    And no it’s not a dead horse. It accompanied the news story that cities bought property for no good use, and now the taxpayers are stuck with a bad deal and can’t unload the property.

    Btw, what are you a ‘commissioner’ of?

  9. Commissioner Gordon Commissioner Gordon says:

    Hindsight is usually 20/20 vision. I doubt that 5 council members and a Town staff could just buy a property that was so over priced, use your logic, the market was going down but who knew this would happen, most people were blindsided. Many homeowners are upside down just because of poor planning and yes looking back many people were fools to buy or refinance at that moment in time but as I said hindsight is 20/20. Was it a Town conspiracy? Were the World Trade Center crashes planned by the Town of Yucca Valley? Yes you are correct they were ripped off somewhat in the end but there were many mistakes made by many at that time, hence the word MISTAKE not CONSPIRACY.
    I am addressing your BLOG, it is yours so everything on here either lends credence to your blog or makes it look like a big conspiracy website that hates most everyone BUT these are the things that people like, I guess I read it for the same entertainment factor.
    I do think this cloak of secrecy being Commissioner Gordon is fun but I am not looking to be secretive as to who I am, let me just enjoy it for a bit but it is not hard to figure out…. its really no biggie, I am just an average guy with an average opinion so who really cares anyway.
    I did not plan my life perfectly and I do not even know who you are Mr. Hunter but I hope that you have never made a mistake in your life because most of us have and the same goes for any group of people, bad decisions do not constitute being evil, its time to move on.
    My only advice to this website is to not be so critical of everyone, there are alot of good, hardworking people volunteering their time or being paid very little to make the best decisions that they can with the knowledge that they have at that time. I realize that this is just a blog but just lighten up a little.

    • Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

      No it is my blog…. I publish it. I pay the bills…. The content is owned and is the property of each contributor. Each of you follow the terms and conditions of the Blog.. (Well I hope you do).

      Here are some of the rules of the site:

      Now I understand your frustration, I don’t agree a lot of the time with the contributors here, but that is the price I pay in giving the community a venue to vent their own frustrations with the system. If the newspaper did its job, I’d be out of business.

      I do not think you realize the tremendous amount of time and research these volunteers put into their posts. Each of those here spend a good deal of their free time researching, analyzing and compiling facts to knit pick those “decisions” that the elected and appointed boards and agencies leaders make. Its part of the process of a good republic. It is the duty of every good citizen to question authority. It is our duty to understand the process and even disagree with bad governance.

      The People have the “God Given Right” to the Freedom of speech, the right to assemble, the right to seek redress of grievance. Silence is the mistress of Tyranny. A vocal citizenry, debating the issues of the day is as bedrock and bright-line an American concept of liberty as it can be.

      While in most cases I vigorously disagree with Branson Hunter and that is most of the time, I will defend to the death his right to express his views and opinion.

      My grandmother said it best, “Everyone to his own, as the man kissed the cow.” That means to me; I don’t have to agree with him but I do as a believer in Liberty, have to defend his Right to be right or wrong.

      • Commissioner Gordon Commissioner Gordon says:

        I did not know who owned this blog, sorry for any error. I agree with some of what you say Mr. O’Brien. I write a small blog for a larger website but it’s not political in any way. Don’t you agree that the newspaper has a higher standard for credibility than you do? Just as the National Enquirer actually does get alot correct and breaks alot of news other things are highly speculated? It’s like the boy who cried worf, can it be believed today or not? I expect newspapers to be unbiased and always accurate. You blog is more of a Hi-Desert Enquirer, it has that “speculation” aspect to it, some things are correct and others are not. YES everyone is entitled to their opinion, I wholeheartedly agree and a blog is the proper place for it, I am just stating my opinion also. I disagree about the newspaper, they do have a higher standard of accuracy to maintain than you do. Thanks for the interesting blog, the opinions are interesting, if we all agreed it would be a Stepford World. If all conservatives or liberals had their way one way or the other I believe this world would be worse off, we all keep each other in balance. I have to go, the Bat Phone is ringing……

        • Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

          You have to be kidding about the credibility of the newspaper… In both versions it is nothing more than a newsletter for the Status Quo. On the issue of the delusion of the RDAs for example they have consistently been behind the 8-ball. Preaching the morning talking points of City Hall. I guess it is too hard to do your own research. No Sir, they are not at all more credible. I am amazed that you could have even written that assertion with a straight face.

          Show me where they have been more accurate on the RDA story CG. They have been wrong 100% of the time. Both the Town and the City’s ROPS continue to be rejected by the Department of Finance yet the newspaper hasn’t even bothered to make the call to Sacramento to find out why.

          When it comes to the hard news of AB 1x 26 and RDA wind down, We have done our home work. We’ve gotten both sides of the story…. The newspaper has completely dropped the ball. To suggest otherwise bespeaks of a total disconnect of reality. Hell we post the research…. the paper refuses to do likewise.

          Did you actually hear a bat phone ring? Hmmmm.

        • Paparrazi Paparrazi says:

          Sorry CG, I don’t know where or how you got the idea newspapers are above reproach? Seems to me somebody pays their bills and believe me, its not by putting quarters in a newsstand that does it. Like newspapers this site does publish of what I consider the e-version of the opinions page. Like newspapers writers posts often have their take on things and a bias of personal opinion. Like Dan, Branson and I disagree more often than not. Going out of my way I’ll point out that most posts here on CT are indeed based on fact. It’s a blog not a court of law. So what you’ll find is that these posts are mixed together, some opinion editorials and other a straight scoop. Unlike newspapers if a post is based as a fact but is really a disguised vendetta it will be brought to the readers attention by other posters in real time, rendering retractions in the papers a thing of the past. Both Dan and Branson have served our country thru service in the military. They are both fighters, both fight in their own way for the truth. I’ve been posting on blogs for over a decade and I have yet to find a site with an honest broker of truth as the administrator of this has. Many of the posters will come here to be heard rather than have their opinions squelched by someone at city hall or the editor of the paper. This Site Rocks!!!!!

          • Commissioner Gordon Commissioner Gordon says:

            I NEVER said newspapers are above reproach. I said the Hi-Desert Star is a great small town newspaper. And yes I know what a blog is. City hall has no influence over the Hi-Desert Star, what planet do you live on?

            Take care…. and yes, I am glad you voice your opinion so please allow me to voice mine.

            • Paparrazi Paparrazi says:

              “I NEVER said newspapers are above reproach.”
              Don’t try to sidestep away from that, you said?
              “I expect newspapers to be unbiased and always accurate.” on May 25, 2012 at 1:11 pm

              “City hall has no influence over the Hi-Desert Star, what planet do you live on?”

              Try reading my post and then try to figure out how you came to make that erroneous statement? I made no such reference. Seems to me that you are at odds with your own demand for high standards in journalistic integrity. For Gotham Cities sake Commissioner get the story right.

    • Gordan, It’s difficult to accept that logic. You wrote: “I doubt that 5 council members and a Town staff could just buy a property that was so over priced, use your logic, the market was going down but who knew this would happen, most people were blindsided.”

      During this period the economy was unhealthy. The Council people were mostly market savvy. It was a very reckless move and a grossly negligent expenditure of taxpayers funds, which undermined the free market and priced out a business out of the market. Most reasonable minds would not overpay a half million dollars. It took out 30 jobs.

      [Can this conversation go forward without the personal aspersions?]

      • Commissioner Gordon Commissioner Gordon says:

        As I said its easy with 20/20 hindsight vision, the whole country was blindsided at that time. And I do not know the numbers but my reasoning tells me that 30 jobs were not lost, if you are serious I might start to believe that you think everything is a conspiracy. You guys are such kidders, knock it off and quit being so silly, Fiddle Diddle Diddle.

        • Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

          Didn’t your pappy tell you as a child, “never come to a gun fight with a pocket knife?”

          The first article written on the PFF Building by Branson was: “Commentary: What was Yucca Valley thinking?” dated February 20, 2010.

          It was topical at the time and his viewpoint has not changed. It is Unfortunate a fellow like you just leaps into a subject without the slightest research.

          There are 19 stories concerning the PFF Building dating back as far as 2010…. Three years of stories.

          I am going to give you some sage advice. Before you pontificate here do your homework. Have your facts. Put your ducks in a row.

          I hope it was not your intent to appear the dumbass in all this because it seems to have worked out that way.

        • Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

          I think the most important article written on the subject was the April 2010 “Yucca Valley RDA- A Ship of Fools” a print of a letter sent to the Town Council of Yucca Valley by Ms. Sabrina “BudJonz” Peukert a Broker who had a sale of the building hi-jacked by the Town Council. A real interesting read.

  10. Commissioner Gordon Commissioner Gordon says:

    19 stories in 2 years, obsession? So if I have a differing opinion than you and I am given advice to research only through your blog I must either agree with you OR to not participate in this blog at all. Only two options, very interesting indeed. Off to breakfast with Bruce Wayne, he is a rather interesting character, I bet you think that such an honest businessman as he is hiding something also.

    • Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

      I wonder what subject do you teach at the High School Jeff? I hope it isn’t Social Studies, Civics or local history.

      It must be drama….. and your specialty is the Marvel Comic Characters.

      Teacher take your own advise…. DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

      • Commissioner Gordon Commissioner Gordon says:

        I told you it would be easy to figure out, especially today, I actually know very little about comics. Anyway, it was fun and I guess I am stupid in your eyes but I do have an opinion that is just from an average guy, maybe a little naive but none the less as a 36 year resident I love Yucca Valley and the Hi-Desert, I really want it to be everything that it can be. I don’t see dark shadows around every corner. By the way, you might want to read my non-political blog for DesertUSA, maybe you can pick it apart. http://www.desertusa.com/dusablog/author/jeff

        • I checked out your blog. Interesting. Have you checked out Joshua Tree Star? Another interesting desert-information-local blog?

          Btw, this is the third time I think you’ve referred to dark shadows around every corner. Yet when you look at the comments back at you, they are mostly founded in fact and history.

          Btw, how do you feel about the sales tax proposed increase…? with a portion going into the general fund and not toward sewer projects? Do you think the town can muster a 2/3 required majority?

          Take care “Mojave”.

          • Commissioner Gordon Jeff Drozd says:

            Thanks for the link, it looks interesting. I love writing my blog, I cant say its a great blog but I love the desert and its fun writing it, I just wish I had the time to write more, I cant just sit down and write, it has to hit me at the right time or I sit there doing nothing or working on something that is in need of getting done for one of my jobs.

            The tax increase is a loaded question that I am sure I need to research more BUT I do know that Yucca needs alot of infrastructure and of course we need sewers. The only way to achieve that is money, many people don’t seem to realize that the Town cant just pull money out of the air, they have a budget like we do. These are hard times to ask for a local tax along with Governor Brown’s proposed state tax I really don’t know if it will fly but at least in a community like ours a good portion of a sales tax would be paid by out of towners. I will leave my comment at that.

            I do enjoy your blog, great news and info I just think your too critical sometimes. Keep up the good work.

            • Mojave — that’s what Gordon likes to be called –it is NOT a loaded question. It should be on the minds of city officials and the costly consulting firm voters will pay for to tell then how to think.

              It is the question of the Year! And this question too must be asked: Does the town have “Plan B” when it fails? Many believe the 2/3 majority will fail. They’ll be lucky to get a 50% vote. Given that the special fire property tax in 29 only got a near 50% vote (not the required 2/3), YV town officials just are not listening.

              Moreover, the first of that proposed tax goes into the general fund for unnamed infrastructure and parks. And voters are sick and tired of outside consultants telling them how to think.

              The vote is doomed. Town officials got greedy by asking the voters for more than is need. The town is going to be in a pickle when it fails, and it will fail due to poor leadership, poor advise and thinking voter will follow the bullshit of consultants.

    • Gordan, those stories are now front page issues, and the rda ripoffs are now dominate in state politics. This is not a case of “20/20 hindsight vision” — the economy and the housing market had already slid down the mountainside. Why are you sticking with this spin?

      Overpaying paying by $500,000 for a building worth $1.2 million without a plan or purpose is shocking, scandalous and an unscrupulous mea culpa. This just about sums up the history of rda ripoffs (all absent public input).

      Keep posting…

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