January 12, 2012 Leave a comment
With the California Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold state laws, redevelopment agencies must be dissolved by the end of the month. IB City Council appointed the city’s Housing Agency as the successor to redevelopment projects at their meeting last Wednesday.
Cities across California are scrambling to meet a Feb. 1 deadline to dissolve redevelopment agencies, and must name a successor to their redevelopment agency by Friday.
By approving three resolutions at a Jan. 5 special meeting, City Council designated the Housing Authority as the successor agency to the Imperial Beach Redevelopment Agency. The Housing Authority was created last year in response to threats by Govenor Brown to eliminate redevelopment agencies.
The Housing Authority will have the ability to perform fair housing functions previously assigned to the redevelopment agency.
Council also ratified the transfer of housing assets from the redevelopment agency to the Housing Authority.
City Manager Gary Brown said the law states that city government could declare itself successor agency to the redevelopment agency. This gives the Housing Authority the ability to do the projects previously done with housing funds through redevelopment.
In February 2011, City Council created the Housing Authority shortly after the governor proposed dissolving redevelopment agencies. City Council and staff serve as commissioners to the Housing Authority.
“You will be in charge of dissolving the facets of the redevelopment agency,” he said. “And you will be monitored by a seven member oversight committee.”
Special Counsel Susan Cola said if cities do not follow through with this procedure, then ultimately it will be the decision of the county how these funds are used and could be less favorable for the city.
Brown said the Oversight Committee consists of two people selected by City Council and two appointed by the County of San Diego Board of Supervisors. Cola said that the district’s school superintendent and colleges appoint stakeholders, but there are things that still needs to be worked out and the formation of the committee is still unclear in some areas.
“If you wanted to change or negotiate something, you would have to go to them,” she said. “Additionally you will have to deal with the county because they will have control of the funds. So everyone is going to have their hands in how dissolution occurs.”
Councilwoman Lorie Bragg said she would assume that this committee would have Imperial Beach’s “best interest at heart,” but Cola said that is an incorrect assumption.
“They are going to look at their own hard facts, costs and each will be looking out for their own interest,” said Cola. “It is critical that you build the coalitions with the Mayor and establish a good relationship with the county auditor who will have control of the flow of the money.”
Cola said there is a consensus on how the committee will operate, but there are some grey areas and will probably be flushed out in progression.
“I actually hopeful that there will be an extension, because it will be a mess otherwise,” she said.
“It is important to appoint someone who knows what the city’s needs are and plays nice with the other committee members who can use their influence in order to accomplish certain goals of the city.”
Councilmember Jim King said the “grey areas” concern him the most.
“I think that this is the best move for the city to be making,” he said. “We are in the best position to move this forward, and bring to the table the things we have worked so hard for. It is the only true viable way to protect our interest.”
Cola said the future is speculative at this point. The California Redevelopment Association is trying a two-step approach. One, to postpone the dissolution date of Feb. 1 to give people time to create fixes to the existing legislation.
“I have also heard the CRA may be lobbying to have some agencies created with limited powers like Brown Field’s housing,” Cola said. “But since the governor pretty well has everything he wants I don’t know what the outcome of that is going to be. I would stay tuned for the next couple of months.”
Cola said litigation and a restraining order was filed to get temporary relief in order to prevent theoperation of Assembly Bill 26 (dissolving redevelopment agencies) based on interference with contracts.
“You are in good shape, you already have consummated your agreements, you have contractual obligations with third parties to the extent you can carry that out,” she said. “They have the power to unwind some things so the ideal is to get projects to a certain point that it is not economic for the deal to be unwound.”
Brown said there would be a meeting Jan. 18 to work out where current city projects stand at this point.
Mayor Jim Janney said that many cities are following up with similar procedures in reaction to the court’s ruling.
“It is pretty complicated, but I believe they (city staff) are getting us up ahead of what’s coming here,” he said.
Janney called the issue a moving target right now, that there is more to come and planning is poor.
“We have to be both flexible and out in front of this,” said Janney. “This is the most important thing. We have projects that are not only shovel ready, but the shovel is already in the ground. These are things that actually bring benefit to the people of Imperial Beach.”
Janney and other city officials have opposed the idea of getting rid of redevelopment agencies since it was first suggested during Gov. Brown’s 2010 campaign for governor.