Here’s how I break down the whole lease vs. build scenario in regard to the South County government office facility, which is fast coming to a head.
The Sierra Center Mall was built, I believe, in 1983, the same year that National Lampoon’s Vacation came out. My favorite line from the movie was the one delivered by the car dealer (played by Eugene Levy) to Clark Griswold (played by Chevy Chase) as he tried to sell him on buying the Truckster station wagon for the family roadtrip.
Levy: Now, I owe it to myself to tell you, Mr. Griswold, that if you are thinking of taking the tribe cross country, this is the automobile you should be using. The Wagon Queen Family Truckster … You think you hate it now, but wait till you drive it.
The Sierra Center Mall is the Family Truckster, and the County’s been driving it for 20 years now, and the County still hates it.
So now the County has decided it doesn’t wish to rent the Truckster anymore. Instead, it would like to buy a Kia, because LeBron James drives one, and LeBron says that it drives just like a Mercedes and it’s really fancy and state of the art and LeBron wins championships and he’s sure the County will win a championship too by buying a new Kia!
And better yet, says the County, 35 years from now, when the Kia’s finally paid off, it’ll make so much more financial sense than continuing to lease a Truckster that’s always in the shop and can’t drive uphill faster than 45 miles per hour.
But here’s the catch. Thirty-five years from now, LeBron will be long retired and that Kia—you’ll hate it even more than the Truckster precisely because you own it and precisely because it’s not a Mercedes. A 35-year old Kia—that will be a mechanic’s dream.
Let’s be brutally honest. If the County bought the Kia, it would become an old and unappreciated toy within a week, and in fact, some would secretly miss the Truckster because, as unappealing as it was, it still had its own dedicated parking space right next to a brewery.
I told you that LeBron will have retired by 2054, right? Corless, Peters, Gardner, Johnston, Stump, Chapman and Holler will have retired, too. Hell, if they’re lucky, they’ll still be alive. The only jackass who won’t be retired is me, since I will be stewing with pickled resentment at having to continue to pay for this pile of shit, which will fall apart just like a Kia is designed to.
How do I know they’re buying a Kia? Because they keep juicing the numbers and reducing the square footage and “value-engineering” the proposed building so it will look like the most sound financial option the County has.
To me, “value-engineering” is code for: It will look great during the ribbon-cutting, but will fall apart at double the speed of a normal building, which won’t matter because all the people who touted the sucker will be gone by repair time.
As long time local builder Greg Jennison said to me this week, “He’s [Chris Taylor of HMC Architects] just going into some computer program to get his numbers, which are relative to L.A. or Las Vegas.” i.e. not relative to Mammoth.
As for Taylor, the Town and County’s claim is that the police facility is right on budget. “There’s no way they can be right on budget after the winter we’ve had,” Jennison said.