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Ron Kaye: Cities can't wait for state

April 22, 2012

What started out a year ago as a multibillion-dollar money grab triggered by Gov. Jerry Brown's call to abolish redevelopment agencies statewide now shows every sign of morphing into a power grab.

City managers of Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena are just getting over mourning the loss of redevelopment dollars only to find themselves in a chaotic situation of figuring out what to do with the properties they bought and the plans they made for community, infrastructure and commercial improvements — plans that now may be long-delayed or never funded.

The state Legislature provided no road map for how to dismantle redevelopment agencies, so city, county and state officials are making it up as they go along against impossible deadlines for audits, debt payment schedules and the uncertainties of funding.

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And then it may all be pointless: A series of bills to resurrect redevelopment from the graveyard of public policy is gaining momentum.

“We've just gone through singing the swan song of redevelopment,” said Glendale City Manager Scott Ochoa.

“With the council's adoption of the economic development ordinance, we're turning the page and moving on with many of the same powers to acquire and dispose of property, make loans, to lease, but without the money,” he continued. “We're on to Page 2, and now we see the state is having buyer's remorse with bills to bring back redevelopment winding their way through the Legislature.

“We don't have the time to deal with the state's dysfunction.”

Yes, the governors and legislators who brought you budget deficits of $25 billion, borrowed heavily against your future, endowed public employees with princely pensions and benefits and allowed the state's infrastructure to rot, now are moving forward in their own inimitable way to make abolition of community redevelopment agencies a whole chapter in the history of the decline and fall of the Golden State.

You might think about that before you vote in the June primary to put the public officials who created this and so many other messes back into office to cause even more problems.

City officials have been put into the position of writing budgets in hard times with the added burden of losing much of their redevelopment funding to schools, the county and the state — an $8-million gap for Glendale — and the unpredictability over what is going to happen next.

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