LARP CEO hurls anti-business allegations at city council during fiery remarks

Frustrated and disappointed by the Susanville City Council’s direction to leave a proposed Local Area Revitalization Project Cooperative composting project on the back burner, LARP CEO David Teeter unloaded on the council at its Wednesday, March 20, meeting, threatening to close his business and spread the city’s anti-business message to all who will listen.

Teeter and Caleb Griffin addressed the council about LARP’s small farm incubator composting project on city-owned property in the county near in the Berry Reservoir area. According to the presentation, LARP seeks a long-term lease or a purchase agreement for the property.

After about 45 minutes of discussion and public comment, Councilmember Mendy Shuster responded to Mayor Quincy McCourt’s request for comments by councilmembers.

“I don’t see any need for us right now to focus on this and to have staff work on it,” Schuster said. “They’re very busy. So, I’m not willing to give that direction to them … I think the council should discuss this — not this council, but the next council.”

Teeter made his way back to the podium.

“In that case, what LARP would prefer would be the return of the $50,000 that we gave to you,’ Teeter said. “$20,000 was supposed to be used at Crossroads in case there was an overrun on their need for engineering of the commercial freezer, but Crossroads no longer needs that commercial freezer because Sunrise Rotary gave them one.”

LARP also has given the city $30,000 for the cost of a California Environmental Quality Act review of the project.

“We’re not asking for money, but if you don’t allow staff to begin to work on this, then basically what you’re telling those folks in the city of Susanville is again — wait until 2026, wait until 2028, wait until 2030,” Teeter said. “We’re running out of citizens to wait until 2030. I point out again, if we’re going to talk about economic development — then LARP and the Farmers Market have created more businesses than anybody else in this chamber. So this idea that staff is so busy with the essential items and things that they have to do that they cannot look ahead and start planning for problems which we are certain are on their way, suggests to me as a business owner and a building owner in the city of Susanville, that perhaps the city of Susanville is not welcome to business and is not interested in changing the dynamics of where we’re going. I don’t mean to threaten, but at the same time if you’re not going to — I’m not asking for money. I’m asking for an abandoned alfalfa field that is not going to be used in the foreseeable future for anything no matter what discussions you have up here. So, you must be realistic. What you’re telling me is no all the way, and your staff cannot work on it at all, then that’s fine. We’ll attempt it in our own way using our own resources. We cannot wait.

“If you folks can’t move forward on this, then again what you’re telling business, what you’re telling potential businesses in the city of Susanville, is we’ll study this and when we have staff, we’ll get back to you. I’m not asking you for money, I’m bringing you money. I’m bringing you investment. If you choose, no, that’s fine. But that’s a consequence that this council will have to face. It’s a consequence where I’m not saying that I’m going to lead a recall effort, because I think that’s a waste of time. What I’m telling you is I’m going to close my business, and I’m going to tell people that there is no business in Susanville because this sort of behavior from the city council is the exact opposite of what you should be doing at this point.”

Councilmember Thomas Herrera praised “all the great things LARP does for the community, and Stafford said if he were to remain in office, he would be in favor of moving the process forward.

Mayor Quincy McCourt noted the three councilmembers who are leaving office (McCourt, Herrera and Stafford) are in favor of moving this project forward.

“What we’re saying is we want to push the season a little bit,” McCourt said. “We don’t want to wait anymore. We’re telling you that.”

“All I’m saying, Mr. Mayor, is we have not talked about that property on this council,” Schuster said. “This has happened a lot the last four years. All of a sudden something is thrown up. We haven’t had the opportunity to talk about it … I’m sure you guys have ideas for it. We need to talk about it as a council … What we need to do is take our time and think about what we really want to do with that piece of property. That’s all I was saying. It wasn’t anything negative.”

In the end, City Manager Dan Newton agreed staff could have minimal conversations with LARP regarding the project.