• Confusion on the desal front

    By Marge Ann Jameson for the 12/28/12 edition

    Recent articles in the local press have carried conflicting accounts of what is occurring at the Moss Landing Commercial Park. Did Nader Agha sell out his interest or did he take on a partner? It may all come down to a misunderstanding of the definitions of the various aspects of the management of the desalination project.

    At the regular City Council meeting on Wed., Dec. 19, Donald Lew announced that his firm has taken over management of Nader Agha’s holdings at the Moss Landing Commercial Park, including the People’s Desalination Project, renamed the Regional Desalination Project. Lew is managing partner for JDL Development, a family-owned private equity firm based in Concord, CA.  Agha, he announced, is no longer involved in the desal portion of the project and will concentrate on real estate holdings.

    Lew advises that his firm and Agha’s are partners in certain aspects of the project, but that Lew retains management control over every aspect while Agha is the property manager. “We are in charge of the capital,” said Lew, speaking of JDL. Lew is now “Senior Managing Director, Moss Landing Commercial Park.”

    Lew said he will have no further comments until some time into the new year. As to Pacific Grove’s potential interest in the desalination project, Lew said, “We’re working with all the interested parties to get the project moving forward.”

    “We want to find a safe, reliable, affordable source of water” for the Peninsula, he said, to “replace the Carmel River water at a reasonable price. There is no change in that position.”

    “We are trusting Carmelita Garcia to keep us organized and on track,” he volunteered, speaking of the former mayor who is now working for Agha in his office. “She is a good person.”

    Garcia is also the unpaid executive director of Water Plus, a non-profit organization which seeks public ownership of Peninsula water.

    Agha issued a press release Thurs., Dec. 20 stating: “Mr. Donald Lew is joining the Moss Landing Commercial Park as Senior Managing Director to manage the development of the new Regional Desalinization Project at Moss Landing Commercial Park (formerly known as the People’s Moss Landing Project).  Mr. Lew was formerly with Bechtel Power Corp., where he worked as an engineer.  He is looking forward to working with the City of Pacific Grove as the potential public agency.”

    The current purveyor for much of the Peninsula’s water, Cal-Am, is under court order to cease over-pumping and desalination will likely be part of the solution.

    Pacific Grove has been exploring becoming the public partner for the desalination plant. Sources say that none of the projects on the drawing board can meet the state’s deadline, including the project at Moss Landing Commercial Park.

    There will be a Public Participarion Hearing on Jan. 9, 2013, on the Monterey Peninsula, in front of the PUC.


    posted to Cedar Street Times on December 30, 2012

    Topics: Marge Ann Jameson, Water


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