By Ted AYALA
There has been much heated debate and rhetoric over the city’s resolution to protect the funds of the Redevelopment Agency and Housing Authority from the hands of the State of California in recent days. Governor Jerry Brown’s move to effectively dissolve all the redevelopment agencies in the state and seize their funds has been met with both loud approval and criticism. Cities all across California have been taking measures to protect their redevelopment funds and fight Brown on his proposal. State Controller John Chiang, in turn, declared that the State of California would be auditing 18 redevelopment agencies across the state, though the criteria for the audit remained unclear. Glendale’s redevelopment agency was among those listed in Chiang’s press release.
With all this talk of redevelopment agencies, some in the Crescenta Valley may be wondering what all the fuss is about. What role does the city’s Redevelopment Agency and Housing Authority play for the Crescenta Valley area? How does it affect the residents of the area?
Philip Lanzafame, Glendale’s Chief Director of Community Planning, explained to the Crescenta Valley Weekly what these agencies do and how they affect our community. “Redevelopment agencies are local tools that are authorized by the State Constitution to eliminate blight, build affordable housing, and create jobs. While the [Crescenta Valley] isn’t directly affected as it is not within the boundaries of a blighted zone, its residents still enjoy the amenities and goods provided by the city’s Redevelopment Agency,” said Lanzafame.
Councilman John Drayman added that, “Many, if not most, of the amenities in our two redevelopment project areas – especially our Central Project Area – are enjoyed by Crescenta Valley residents, such as The Americana at Brand or the Alex Theatre. The very underpinnings of what [Crescenta Valley] residents refer to as ‘quality of life’ such as road maintenance, tree trimming, [funding for] parks, libraries, street lights, police and fire services, and joint projects with our Glendale schools all flow from the revenue generated through economic development in our downtown Central Project Area. If the Glendale Redevelopment Agency goes away, the [Crescenta Valley], like all other areas in the city, will see necessary funding of many services we enjoy and normally take for granted reduced or eliminated because our city’s general fund will not be able to adequately support current levels [of funding].”
Lanzafame expressed great concern over Brown’s move to dissolve the state’s redevelopment agencies. “Redevelopment agencies throughout the state have generated over $40 billion in economic activity, $2 billion in state and local revenue, 300,000 permanent private sector jobs, and created 5,000 affordable housing units. If Governor Brown gets his way, cities would lose a very powerful economic engine. […] The Governor is making this decision without consulting local entities and organizations first.”
As he browsed the aisles of the Barnes & Noble at the Americana at Brand, Montrose resident Steve Arutunian voiced his own concern over the state’s proposal to dissolve all the state’s redevelopment agencies.
“My family comes [to the Americana] and to the Glendale Galleria all the time,” he said. “I don’t want to think what Glendale would be like without these places. The state should look for other ways to fix the budget, you know? Taking away funding from cities and local businesses in this economy doesn’t sound like the right idea to me.”