Costa Mesa RDA, R.I.P.
At the beginning of what turned out to be yet another surreal evening in the Costa Mesa City Council chambers, an unanticipated large crowd heard legal counsel Celeste Brady describe the pending demise of the Costa Mesa Redevelopment Agency.
"TIME" FOUL-UP PRODUCES A CROWD
I say "unanticipated" because most Redevelopment Agency meetings are attended by only a few of us "usual suspects" - a half-dozen residents who care enough about municipal affairs to drag our bodies to City Hall to attend the infrequently-held meetings. Last night, though, there was a windfall of people in the crowd - the result of an unfortunate wide dissemination of inaccurate information about the Special City Council meeting, which was to follow. Like a snowball running downhill, an accumulation of errors - which began when The City provided information that the first Public Hearing on Jim Righeimer's Charter City scheme was to begin at 6:00 - just kept growing. Activists, using that bad information, published and distributed thousands of fliers with the wrong time around town over the previous weekend. That information was picked up by other community organizations, too. The result was a nearly full auditorium as the 6:00 Redevelopment Agency meeting began. Some had already arrived an hour early to be sure of a seat.
NO HARM, NO FOUL
Those folks had a chance to hear that the California Supreme Court had affirmed that redevelopment agencies around the state will soon be dissolved and that the State will subsequently try to recapture the tax increment dollars that resided in the coffers of those agencies.
The purpose of this meeting was for the Costa Mesa Redevelopment Agency - the City Council in a fancy dress - to try to decide how to manage this issue and to protect as many of the current assets of the agency as possible.
SCRAMBLING TO SAVE ASSETS
According to the staff, the Agency currently would have around $750,000 - $1,000,000 in cash by the end of the fiscal year, another $7.5 million in on-going receivables and the balance of the loan The City originally made to The Agency back in 1973 when it was first created to launch projects. That loan has provided around $1.4 million to The City in interest income and the current balance - based on a December, 2011 report - is just over $10.4 million. The biggest concern is how to keep the State from snatching that money from The City. The staff is burning the midnight oil to locate the paper trail to be able to demonstrate to The State that those monies - the $10.4 million - are not "tax increments", but a valid obligation of the about-to-be dissolved agency that must be repaid to The City.
CITY TO FORM HOUSING AUTHORITY - MAYBE
Much discussion was held to determine how to protect the assets - a process complicated by the legislation that, in typical Sacramento fashion, makes demands that are virtually impossible to fulfill. The upshot was that the staff will prepare the paperwork necessary to form a Municipal Housing Authority and bring it to the council/agency at the next regular meeting on January 17th. Apparently, by naming the Housing Authority as the successor agency to the dead redevelopment agency, it MIGHT be possible to protect some of the assets and keep them in the city. I say "might" because there are a couple competing bills being flogged around the legislature right now that will, once again, change the rules of the game. Of course, this Housing Authority would be yet-another layer of government.
I came away from that meeting frustrated by the dysfunction of our State government. Fortunately, I didn't have too much time to dwell on that because, following a very short break, the meeting morphed into the Special Meeting to discuss the Charter. More on that in my next post... it's too long to cover here.
Labels: Redevelopment Agency