11th Hour Water Agency offer for huge Bay Area cattle ranch failed

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LIVERMORE – The final price of a large cattle ranch was below the list price, a moving target that has eluded government attempts to buy the gigantic property – including an 11th hour offer by a local agency water.

Alameda County Water District, 17 state legislators, state officials, and land conservation groups were among government, government agencies, and special interest organizations that participated to an effort to bring the gigantic ranch lands into public ownership, such as a water district property or a new state park.

Today, thanks to a series of $ 63.5 million purchases on Oct. 22 in four different counties – that’s how huge this property is – two private organizations led by the business executive and based rancher. in Danville William Brown became the new owner of the N3. Cattle Co. ranch.

The ranch spans over 50,500 acres in Santa Clara, Alameda, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

“It was an extraordinary missed opportunity,” said John Weed, one of five members of the Alameda County Water District Board of Directors.

It never became clear whether state or regional government officials were successful in formulating an offer to purchase that would be close to the original asking price of $ 72 million in July 2019 or a discounted price. $ 68 million that was disclosed in April 2020.

“I am disappointed that I cannot acquire this large property,” said Senator Steven Glazer (D-Contra Costa), whose district includes sections of Contra Costa County and Alameda County. “It had great potential. Glazer was one of 17 lawmakers who urged the governor to continue transforming the site into a state park.

Despite considerable discussion, discussion and maneuvering by state and regional government entities, the Alameda County Water District appears to be the only government entity to have made a bid for the property. of 50,500 acres.

“Alameda County Water District has made several attempts to acquire the property, including submitting a backup offer,” said Sharene Gonzales, spokesperson for the Fremont-based water agency.

However, even that bet only came after learning in July 2021 that the N3 Cattle Co. ranch was in receivership to be purchased. By this point, the asking price had been reduced to $ 68 million.

This Water District relief offer was submitted in case the escrow failed and the deal involving the groups led by William Brown collapsed. The Alameda County agency declined to disclose the amount of its backup offer.

In January 2020, the state government, under a proposal launched by Governor Gavin Newsom, appeared ready to shell out up to $ 20 million to purchase and create a new state park.

Around the same time, the Nature Conservancy and the Trust for Public Lands claimed to have raised $ 30 million towards the purchase of the property.

“A very attractive package has been put in place,” said Senator Glazer. “We made a very serious effort.

If those funds were pooled, at $ 50 million, it was still 21% below the final purchase price and 26% below the last known asking price of $ 68 million. The senator, however, did not disclose the dollar value of the state package.

Here’s what the Brown-led groups paid in the four counties that contain the cattle ranch land, according to public documents filed Oct. 22 in the quartet of jurisdictions:

– Santa Clara County. $ 24.8 million, 19,935 acres, approximately $ 1,243 per acre.

– Alameda County. $ 21.3 million, 16,880 acres, $ 1,265 per acre.

– San Joaquin County. $ 11.7 million, 9,095 acres, $ 1,285 per acre.

– County of Stanislas. $ 5.7 million, 4,590 acres, $ 1,240 per acre.

The properties are now owned by the William Brown Foundation and the WEB Ranch – the WEB would match the full name of William Edward Brown.

The William Brown Foundation paid $ 53.4 million in cash for real estate purchases in the four counties, according to public records. WEB Ranch paid $ 10.1 million for plots in Santa Clara and Alameda counties.

WEB Ranch has also secured $ 8 million in funding for its purchases in Alameda and Santa Clara counties, according to loan documents filed in both counties. American AgCredit, which specializes in financing farmers and ranchers, provided the loan.

With the property in private ownership, state officials will be left to wonder what sort of public park the cattle ranch might have become.

And Alameda County Water District officials may also need to think about the assumptions of the two-year odyssey of California’s biggest land purchase.

The water agency has a huge interest in this area as 90% of the 50,500-acre ranch is in the Alameda Creek watershed, which provides 40% of the district’s water supply. Much of the ranch area is in the Del Valle Reservoir watershed.

“We hope we can work with Mr. Brown to reduce the risk of flooding and allow for a greater supply of water,” said Weed, a member of the district water administration board.

The state recently completed the purchase of the 3,000-acre Tesla Park site near Livermore to ensure these plots can become a state-controlled open space rather than becoming an all-vehicle site. field, Senator Glazer noted.

Yet at 4.7 square miles, this East Bay purchase is only a small fraction of the 79 square miles represented by the massive N3 Cattle property.

“We continue to look for ways to protect open spaces for the benefit of nature and people,” said Senator Glazer.


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