By Ted AYALA
The city is scrambling for time as it assesses its narrowing options in the wake of the State’s move to shutter its redevelopment agencies.
The action by Gov. Brown, which was upheld by the State Supreme Court earlier this month, has put an immense burden on cities already struggling with weak economies and shrinking tax revenues.
Phillip Lanzafame, the city’s chief assistant director of Community Development, painted a bleak forecast of things to come for the city during a special meeting held in the council chamber on Tuesday. Over $25 million worth of city projects, he noted, are now in jeopardy, including rehabilitations to the Central Library, expansion of the Alex Theatre, and improvement of Central Avenue, among others.
Lanzafame, however, held out hope for at least a soft landing by way of legislation being pushed by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Van Nuys) that would postpone the deadline to terminate redevelopment agencies from Feb. 1 to April 15. The bill, SB 659, would allow cities more time to “address serious issues resulting from the recent state court’s ruling,” according to a press release issued by Padilla.
“Even if you are not in favor of redevelopment [agencies], unwinding them in a four week period would be extraordinarily complex, if not impossible,” said City Manager Scott Ochoa during Lanzafame’s presentation. “If it’s going to be done, it needs to be done intelligently over a longer period of time so agencies and communities can dispose of assets in a way that makes sense, but also to allow an opportunity for a replacement for redevelopment.”
Lending support to the city’s cause was Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge).
He urged the Glendale City Council to invite senators Carol Liu (D-District 21) and Padilla to the council chamber so the council to discuss how they can help Glendale’s “unique circumstances.”
“You have a great story of how successful you’ve been,” said Portantino. “You have my support in your efforts to try to reestablish a redevelopment [agency]. [Glendale] has been a leader. Obviously anybody who has been down Brand Boulevard knows how great this city is.”
“When the impact [of terminating redevelopment] hits, the public will then cry out – too late,” said Councilman Dave Weaver during comments leading up to the City Council’s unanimous endorsement (with Mayor Laura Friedman absent) of SB 659. He also held up the Americana on Brand and the Glendale Galleria as prime examples of the virtues of redevelopment.
“More people go to the Americana and Galleria than to Disneyland in a year,” he said. “You know what would be down there at the Americana if we hadn’t built it? It would be empty lots sitting there, waiting for someone with money to develop it on their own.”
Weaver also praised redevelopment as an engine to create revenue and jobs locally.
“The [state] is going to pilfer even more from us and they’ll be back again,” Weaver added. “Whatever we can do to educate the public to make an uproar about this might be the only thing we can do to change this. I have never heard this in my life: the state will run us more than they do now.”