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Council works around loss of redevelopment agency

With redevelopment gone, Glendale looks for another economic development tool.

April 06, 2012|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

As the result of an action Tuesday, Glendale now has the legal framework to establish an economic development organization. But it won’t be able to issue bonds or condemn property — attributes commonly associated with redevelopment agencies.

Bonding and imminent domain powers could still return if the state legislature creates a new program to replace now-defunct local redevelopment agencies, which were axed by a state mandate.

On Tuesday, with Mayor Laura Friedman absent, the City Council approved giving the city the ability to jump start economic activity using a variety of other tools, such as purchasing property and offering grants to businesses, that were once tied to its powerful redevelopment agency.

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When state law put an end to redevelopment activities, the city had no other mechanism governing economic development on its books. The former redevelopment agency is partially responsible for Americana at Brand and Disney’s Creative Campus.

In February, a state mandate redirecting millions in incremental property taxes from city coffers to the state forced the closure of local redevelopment agencies across California.

City officials suggested the new economic development organization have the power to issue bonds and condemn property, but the council wouldn’t have it.

“I think we have to get going tomorrow in terms of economic development,” said Councilman Frank Quintero, “but these two provisions I think are a bit much.”

Councilman Ara Najarian agreed, noting that giving the city the ability to issue bonds didn’t sit well with him.

“I don’t want to create an expectation that this new ordinance will invite us to issue new bonds for debts,” Najarian said.

Despite cutting out the two sticking points, the newly approved economic development rules let the city do much of what the redevelopment agency once did, including buying and selling property, as well as disposing of property for fair-market or less than fair-market value, so long as it spurs economic development.

It could also offer grants, loans, tax rebates and other assistance to attract and retain businesses.

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