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Future of redevelopment remains unknown

April 08, 2011|By Bill Kisliuk, bill.kisliuk@latimes.com

Last month, Glendale and Burbank officials worked quickly to protect their redevelopment agencies as debate reached a peak over Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to eliminate the 400 or so agencies statewide and reallocate the $5 billion they receive.

Brown’s plan failed to receive the necessary legislative support in its first go-round, just as his overall budget proposal fell short. Since then, redevelopment officials have waited in near silence to find out whether the governor is still seeking to close the agencies by July 1, or if negotiations for a compromise will pick up again.

“I’m not sure anything is going on, to tell you the truth,” John Shirey, executive director of the California Redevelopment Assn., said. “They tell us there are some talks going on between the governor and Senate Republicans, but we’re not getting reports of anything coming out of those talks.”

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Brown is traveling the state pitching the top item on his agenda — extending current sales, vehicle and property tax levels — in an effort to pressure a handful of reluctant lawmakers to support a tax extension ballot measure.

“In the midst of that, nobody has brought up redevelopment in the last few days,” Shirey said. “But I don’t believe for a moment it’s gone away. The governor hasn’t changed his position that he wants to obliterate us.”

Lawmakers sought a compromise last month in which the agencies would route up to $1 billion to public schools this year, and give up a total of $2.7 billion over the next 10 years. But the governor’s office is seeking at least $1.7 billion this year.

Evan Westrup, a spokesman for the governor’s office, said Brown “remains committed” to cutting the agencies and that the compromise proposal is “woefully inadequate.”

“The governor continues to believe that given our fiscal crisis, we need to take a hard look at how scarce taxpayer dollars are being spent,” Westrup said. “Continuing to send billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize private developers when core public services are being cut is problematic.”

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