Elimination of redevelopment imperils ongoing projects, stops future developments in their tracks

Jan 1, 2012 | Posted by: roboblogger | Full story: Pasadena Star-News

When the California Supreme Court on Thursday issued a ruling that essentially annihilated local redevelopment agencies, it also killed the single-most important economic development tool that more than 400 cities statewide have, city officials said.

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1 - 11 of 11 Comments Last updated Feb 22, 2012
WAKEUP Residents

West Covina, CA

#1 Jan 10, 2012
When the California Supreme Court on Thursday issued a ruling that essentially annihilated local redevelopment agencies, it also killed the single-most important economic development tool that more than 400 cities statewide have, city officials said.
With the ruling that the Legislature can eliminate redevelopment agencies, many San Gabriel Valley and Whittier area leaders wonder how their communities are going to move forward with ongoing projects. And they don't know what to do about future plans now left in limbo.

"It puts everything up in the air," West Covina City Manager Andrew Pasmant said. "It's so far-reaching it's amazing."

Once redevelopment agencies are dissolved, city leaders predict that communities will face drastic consequences, including economic disadvantage, decreased revenues, more blighted areas and vacant buildings, elimination of thousands of job opportunities and reduced affordable housing.

"Redevelopment is really the only local tool that cities had to entice businesses in California," Covina City Manager Daryl Parrish said. "Without that we really don't have a tool."

The court also banned a compromise that would have allowed redevelopment agencies to continue operating if they paid a portion of the property taxes they would normally receive to help solve the state's fiscal crisis - what many city officials called a ransom payment.

Read more: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_19652...
Juliette Funes

West Covina, CA

#2 Jan 10, 2012
But now at risk are the sale of the closed Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility in Whittier, the completion of an eight-unit affordable housing complex in Alhambra, the sale of a 14-acre parcel of land to the Gold Line Construction Authority in Monrovia and other projects that will face long delays before coming to fruition.
Other planned redevelopment projects will simply never get the chance to get off the ground.

Not everyone bemoaned the loss of California's redevelopment agencies, however. Conservative blogger Steven Greenhut of Calwatchdog.com praised Gov. Jerry Brown for pushing the legislation.

"Brown isn't often right," Greenhut wrote Friday, "but he was on target when he proposed shutting down these central planning agencies that primarily dispense corporate welfare to big businesses and drive small property owners off their land so that big-box stores can prosper."

Read more: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_19652...
Juliette Funes

West Covina, CA

#3 Jan 10, 2012
In his post, originally put online Nov. 30 and titled "Court Case Shows GOP Hypocrisy," Greenhut wrote that cities with redevelopment agencies often used eminent domain to reward their cronies.

"In Sacramento recently, a restaurant developer received millions of dollars in subsidies to build a mermaid bar - mermaid-costumed women swim around in a giant fish tank - that caters to lobbyists. How's that for a core government service?" he said.

Read more: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_19652...
Juliette Funes

West Covina, CA

#4 Jan 10, 2012
What it all means

Not all agencies spend on frivolity, Pasmant said.

The elimination of West Covina's redevelopment agency jeopardizes the proposed park-and-ride Foothill Transit center near the Westfield West Covina shopping center and a $40 million, 180-acre golf course and office development planned on a portion of the former BKK Landfill site - the city's biggest redevelopment project.

West Covina followed in the footsteps of many other municipalities, which signed previous agreements preserving their right to continue with their developments.

Still, Pasmant said the city lacks the cash flow to fully develop a transit center or golf course, which would complete the landfill's transformation, complementing the Big League Dreams Sports Park and The Heights commercial shopping center.

"I'm sure everyone is going to go back to the table and see what this all means," Pasmant said. "It's going to create a lot of uncertainty and litigation at a time when we desperately need jobs."

In Covina, plans to rehab long-vacant properties, like the old Clippinger auto site, are probably dead, Parrish said.

The city is set to develop a $1.3 million Covina-Valley Unified School District Industrial Arts Center, but the validity of an agreement signed to ensure its development may be in question, he said.

"That's something we'd like to see move forward," Parrish said. "It's an investment in the future of the community."

Incoming Whittier City Manager Jeff Collier said the Whittwood Town Center, the biggest shopping center in town, was realized through redevelopment seven years ago.

"The ability to do those projects is no longer there. Those were significant in moving the community forward," he said. "We have a number of projects that are significantly in question and are likely to go away and that's very sad."

Read more: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_19652...
Juliette Funes

West Covina, CA

#5 Jan 10, 2012
Gold Line issues

One such project includes the state's sale of the 73.8-acre Nelles correctional facility, which was contingent on redevelopment money.

The court's ruling also raises questions about how to carry out massive projects like the Gold Line Foothill Extension project, planned from Pasadena to Azusa.

Arcadia, which plans to construct a transit plaza, has received some grant money from Metro for such improvements that requires matching redevelopment funds, City Manager Don Penman said.

Monrovia Interim City Manager Mark Alvarado said he's hopeful the Monrovia City Council - acting as the redevelopment agency's successor agency - could still move forward on the land deal and other existing redevelopment projects as the state has indicated would be possible.

The city has also been working with lobbyists to draft special legislation that would allow the sale of 14 acres for the Gold Line maintenance yard to be excluded from the new terms since the project would benefit various agencies, he said.

In Alhambra, Fremont Plaza, a major redevelopment project, is home to stores like Albertsons and Toys R Us, but is still filled with vacancies that can't be filled or sold, said Julio Fuentes, city manager and CRA board president-elect.

"There are a number of significant developers that are looking at purchasing that property, but are they going to be able to do that without the redevelopment agency's help?" Fuentes asked. "You're going to have that same building remain vacant forever and without a redevelopment agency, it will stay like that until the private sector decides to develop it - if they even try to develop it at all."

In El Monte, pending projects include the El Monte Gateway, a village of homes and businesses surrounding the El Monte Transit Station. Although the city is still in the early planning stages, the redevelopment agency has attempted to develop the area for years.

Likely to be impacted in Pasadena are the rehabilitation of the historic YWCA building and restoration of the historic Civic Auditorium ballroom.

Read more: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_19652...
Juliette Funes

West Covina, CA

#6 Jan 10, 2012
A hit to housing

Also in trouble is affordable housing for seniors and families.

Under state law, affordable housing is supposed to be funded with 20 percent of all redevelopment tax increment revenue cities receive. But with no redevelopment in the foreseeable future, city officials are not sure what the next step is.

"It doesn't look good," Azusa's Interim City Manager James Makshanoff said.

Azusa's plan for veteran-oriented affordable housing in an area known as Atlantis Gardens could be history. Atlantis Gardens was once known as a locus of gang violence and drug use, but the city through its redevelopment agency began buying up apartment buildings in the neighborhood with the intention of turning the land over to a nonprofit home developer.

"We're still evaluating the impact to see how it's going to affect us and how we are going to move forward with some of the projects we had in the pipeline," Makshanoff said. "There's still a lot of variables out there to be determined."

Alhambra's Howard Street Town Homes affordable housing complex is nearly 90 percent complete. Officials were set to open a lottery today for 30 low-income residents. It has now been stopped in its tracks because the land is owned by the redevelopment agency, officials said.

"That was to accommodate first-time, low-income home buyers who qualified for those homes," Councilwoman Barbara Messina said. "It means a lot to a lot of families, and we don't know what's going to happen."

Also likely to be stalled is a proposed eight-unit, low-income housing project in Whittier that also would serve as a location for Whittier College's Guilford Hall, Collier said. The $4.3 million project would have been funded with $1.3 million in redevelopment money.

Read more: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_19652...
GET RID of Redevelopment

West Covina, CA

#8 Jan 10, 2012
Get rid of this Redevelopment crap now.

Politically connected developers getting jobs.

Money for housing never making it to the people who need it.

The truth is all the money wasted and all the property rights stomped on.

All crap.
Ronald

Long Beach, CA

#9 Jan 10, 2012
For more years than I care to relate, California Government - using the guise of "economic redevelopment" has attacked the hard working taxpaying California minority. I need not go into how these thieves have shoveled more and more hard earned taxpayer money into the pockets of fat cat $$$ Government school teachers $$$ and their allied $$$ Big School $$$ construction industry pals, all the while holding parents hostage with disingenuous claims of "helping children".

Although the city is more radical than most cities in the State, Long Beach is often at the forefront of unscrupulous attacks that are directed at the taxpaying minority.

Using hard earned taxpayer money to draw a voting majority of dangerous tax eaters and taxpayer supported Thug people into the city, the Long Beach ruling class considered themselves immune from the need for tax restraint. One notable example of this lack of restraint was when the Long Beach ruling class imposed Lowenthal grocery and goods bag harassment taxes on Long Beachers for no other reason than to show ordinary folks that they could do it.

Long Beach is handicapped by being home to one of the more expensive taxpayer funded Government Universities. It is in such Government institutions where most of the failed economic and social programs are cooked up.

One might ask how much more suffering can the taxpaying minority endure. This question is especially important when one considers the politicians use hard earned taxpayer money to indoctrinate taxpayer subsided "students" in political correctness and then send them out into into the world to implement them.

The Lowenthal harassment tax is is only one - but very visible - outrageous trendy attack on Long Beachers who, because of failed economic and social programs are mostly poor. The Lowenthal harassment tax is outrageous in itself, but it is only one of many such misdeeds regularly imposed by the California taxing class and their powerful $$$ Big School $$$ pals.

The impoverished California taxpayer can no longer afford to let the politician's failed social policies destroy neighborhoods and then use taxpayer "redevelopment" money as a means of "legally" transferring hard earned taxpayer money into the pockets of the pals' of wealthy politicians and the fat-cat Government agent teachers.

As usual, the politicians throw out the well-worn threat "it will get worse" if taxpayers close the tax spigot. One does not need to be a soothsayer to know that - as a result of already failed dangerous social and economic policy - it will get worse anyway.

Ronald

Less Corruption

La Habra, CA

#10 Jan 10, 2012
So, if we are to believe "the sky is falling" redevelopment district crowd, developers will not invest money in profitable opportunities unless there are redevelopment districts to grease the skids.

If there is money to be made you don't need corrupt redevelopment districts to complicate the situation.

Example: "Also likely to be stalled is a proposed eight-unit, low-income housing project in Whittier that also would serve as a location for Whittier College's Guilford Hall, Collier said. The $4.3 million project would have been funded with $1.3 million in redevelopment money."

You've got to be kidding me. That is over $500,000 per unit. You could buy them all houses on the open market for half the price.

Redevelopment districts - RIP
James Madison

Monrovia, CA

#11 Jan 10, 2012
You are right young citizen.

That is why we read Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations when we drafted the constitution.

Freedom has been taken from the citizens.

The recent move is a return of this freedom that belongs to the people and private businesses.

I believe the term used in your world is Crony Capitalism.
Less Corruption wrote:
So, if we are to believe "the sky is falling" redevelopment district crowd, developers will not invest money in profitable opportunities unless there are redevelopment districts to grease the skids.
If there is money to be made you don't need corrupt redevelopment districts to complicate the situation.
Example: "Also likely to be stalled is a proposed eight-unit, low-income housing project in Whittier that also would serve as a location for Whittier College's Guilford Hall, Collier said. The $4.3 million project would have been funded with $1.3 million in redevelopment money."
You've got to be kidding me. That is over $500,000 per unit. You could buy them all houses on the open market for half the price.
Redevelopment districts - RIP
James

Van Nuys, CA

#12 Feb 22, 2012
Less Corruption wrote:
So, if we are to believe "the sky is falling" redevelopment district crowd, developers will not invest money in profitable opportunities unless there are redevelopment districts to grease the skids.
If there is money to be made you don't need corrupt redevelopment districts to complicate the situation.
Example: "Also likely to be stalled is a proposed eight-unit, low-income housing project in Whittier that also would serve as a location for Whittier College's Guilford Hall, Collier said. The $4.3 million project would have been funded with $1.3 million in redevelopment money."
You've got to be kidding me. That is over $500,000 per unit. You could buy them all houses on the open market for half the price.
Redevelopment districts - RIP
You are criticizing the part of redevelopment that I agree is the most corruptible part. Why is it so corruptible? Because your state legislature mandates that 20% of redevelopment monies go toward "affordable housing" projects. In California, especially in southern CA, where most cities are built out, this almost always means either eminent domain or extremely high expenditures on these projects.

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