Tesla moves closer to opening plant

DOWNEY - Although Tesla Motors has not publicly confirmed plans to settle in Downey, the electric car company moved one step closer to completing all city pre-requisites last week after submitting an entitlement application to ensure its use of the former NASA property."The city of Downey is extremely pleased to be able to begin the official review process for Tesla Motors," said Mayor Anne Bayer in a press release. "Although a lot of work and a few approvals still stand between now and the first electric car being built on the site, having city staff officially working on the project is a major step forward." The planning application submitted by Tesla and the property owner, Industrial Realty Group, allows city staff to review Tesla's proposed 57-acre assembly plant while determining whether the facility is in compliance with the Downey Landing Specific Plan. According to the application, Tesla and IRG request that the city approve a subdivision of the property. While the proposed subdivision must be approved by the Planning Commission, city staff will determine whether the plant meets city standards. City officials believe the proposed use is allowed under the current specific plan for the property and estimate that both the subdivision and determination will occur within six to eight weeks. Even though the entitlement application moves the process forward, Assistant City Manager Gilbert Livas confirms that nothing is solidified yet. "Is it the final step - no, but it is a step in the right direction," said Livas over the phone. "I'd love to report that there's more, but there isn't as of now - each step is a step closer." Upon hearing of the submitted application, Rep. Lucile Roybal-Allard praised the city and Tesla for moving forward with plans to bring its plant to this district. "I commend Tesla Motors on its decision to build its state-of-the-art electric vehicle assembly plant in Downey," said Roybal-Allard. "I look forward to the day when the plant's 1,200 new high tech jobs become available to area residents." Last year, the City Council approved an $8.9 million deal to pave the way for Tesla Motors by granting IRG several economic development incentives to facilitate an assembly plant on the site. Once approved by the U.S. Department of Energy, Tesla will utilize nearly $365 million in low-interest loans from the federal government to manufacture and assembly the Model S, an electric, family sedan that can travel up to 300 miles per charge.

********** Published: January 22, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 40