Gov. Brown Signs Bills Restoring Redevelopment Agency Funds to WeHo

Gov. Jerry Brown today signed two bills that will allow the City of West Hollywood to use $15 million in redevelopment agency money that the state had demanded be relinquished to help solve California’s debt problems.

The bills, SB 107 and AB 2, “will give local governments more economic development tools to help improve struggling communities,” the Brown administration said in a press release today. “SB 107 and AB 2 will help cities and counties streamline efforts to enhance affordable housing in areas that need it the most.”

“These important new measures enacted today will help boost economic development in some of our most disadvantaged and deserving communities,” said Gov. Brown. “California owes a debt of gratitude to Speaker Toni Atkins for her leadership on these issues over the years. Without her tireless efforts, these bills would never have passed.”

Gov. Jerry Brown
Gov. Jerry Brown

SB 107 by the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review includes provisions that will streamline the current redevelopment agency dissolution process, enhance affordable housing by providing increased statewide funding and improving transparency and expand the type of loans for which cities and counties can seek reimbursement.

“This is an important bill that helps local governments wind down the process of dissolving their redevelopment agencies, and, as that happens, communities across California will be able to access new tools to promote economic development and create jobs,” Assembly Speaker Atkins said. “I am proud to have worked with Governor Brown and his team to negotiate the changes that allowed this compromise agreement to move forward. And I am delighted that by enacting this legislation, we are helping reinvest badly needed resources to create affordable housing.”

AB 2 by Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville) allows specified disadvantaged areas of California to create a new entity called a Community Revitalization Investment Authority (CIRA). The CIRA would utilize property taxes and other available funding to improve employment opportunities, reduce crime, clean up hazardous waste sites and promote affordable housing.

“Today, we celebrate a major victory for our state’s most disadvantaged communities with the Governor’s signature of Assembly Bill 2,” said Alejo. “For three years I have work diligently with the Governor’s office and Assembly leadership to create policy that will serve as a new effective tool to help and uplift disadvantaged communities throughout the state. I want to thank the Governor for his leadership and thoughtful consideration on redevelopment. This is the right thing for jobs, economic development and affordable housing in California.”

The legislature’s passage of the bill came after extensive negotiation with Gov. Brown’s office, which gave its supporters confidence that Brown would sign it. Last year Brown vetoed a bill proposed by Assemblymember Richard Bloom that would have returned redevelopment agency money to local cities and asked the state Department of Finance and his staff to work with the legislature to resolve problems he saw with it.

The $15 million that West Hollywood would receive includes $5.65 million for affordable housing and $9.25 million for improvements to Plummer Park. The state also has agreed to relinquish to the city a parking lot on Santa Monica Boulevard and Spaulding valued at $2.5 million that had been owned by the redevelopment agency.

Redevelopment agencies were established to help local governments secure funding for projects. By declaring an area suitable for redevelopment, the share of property tax revenue that went to schools and other local agencies in the area was frozen and increases in that revenue were diverted to the local redevelopment agency. West Hollywood had hoped to use $14 million in redevelopment agency funds to finance major renovations to Plummer Park along with $27 million the agency netted in issuing bonds in March 2011. The state’s decision in 2011 to freeze the redevelopment agencies also resulted in a ban on West Hollywood’s use of those bond revenues.

City Manager Paul Arevalo and Mayor Lindsey Horvath have said they will engage the community in planning how to use the money for renovations of Plummer Park. One of the most controversial elements of a previous plan was the demolition of Great Hall/Long Hall, the buildings in the center of the park built during the Great Depression by the Works Progress Administration.

Arevalo said use of the money set aside for housing will be determined by the projects presented to or developed by the city. The city has a partnership with the West Hollywood Community Housing Corp., which has been in a tight financial situation, and has moved money from its general fund to help the WHCHC. Arevalo said some of the redevelopment agency housing money can be used to repay the general fund for those allocations.

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Mike Dolan
Mike Dolan
7 years ago

Tongva Park in Santa Monica would be an excellent reference and design guide for the future of Plummer Park. Check it out.

Randy
Randy
7 years ago

Steve Martin, yes, that is spot on. West Hollywood is one of the wealthiest cities in the nation. There is something wrong with the city being granted $9 million dollars when it could be used for so many other things, elsewhere.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
7 years ago

While it is hard not to welcome $5.6 million to help build affordable housing in our community, it is difficult to envision how Gov. Brown was ever hoodwinked into believing that West Hollywood is currently a “disadvantaged” community. The problem is that money comes from somewhere. While we in West Hollywood will undoubtedly spend our afford housing money wisely, that has not been historically true in other communities. While $9 million for park improvements is nice, West Hollywood is receiving funds that would otherwise go to our struggling schools and community colleges and to provide health care to those most… Read more »

One of Cassandra's Snakes
One of Cassandra's Snakes
7 years ago

Oh, those poor, DISADVANTAGED people of West Hollywood! How WILL they EVER buy those million dollar condos the developers are slapping up all over the city? Good thing the schools have everything they need so the POOR people in WEHO can snag the money for parking lots! Seriously, folks, isn’t this a little obscene? Maybe the city officials will come to their senses and put ALL the money into housing that average people can afford, instead of that nonsense they have planned for the eastside’s neighborhood park. Ha! Don’t hold your breath.

Disco Dan
Disco Dan
7 years ago

Many residents do not recall when in the late 80s or maybe early 90s the proposal, championed by Heilman, to construct a City Hall and offices in West Hollywood Park which could only be characterized as the Crystal Cathedral of WeHo. It was so over the top, that the electorate rebelled and rejected this ridiculous proposal.

fine7760
7 years ago
Reply to  Disco Dan

Disco Dan, It seems the City Council did win out in the end. Instead of a city hall they build a huge monument with their names inscribed on it. And it ain’t over yet, that was only phase one. Phase two is on its way to cover over the rest of the green space in West Hollywood Park with more concrete. Now they have recovered funds to do the same to Plummer Park. One of Conssandra’s Snakes, Hopefully the majority of the reclaimed money can go into low cost housing. Let’s hope the city can do better than the county… Read more »

fine7760
7 years ago

While everyone seems to be thrilled that all this money is being released do we really need millions to upgrade Plummer Park? West Hollywood Park is being ruined with the building of more monstrosities taking over needed green space is almost criminal. The library should have been built at street level with parking build below ground. But no, we are stuck with a huge monument to those on the City Council that rivals the ugly Red Building at the PDC. As long as the monstrosity is there why not build above or below it any new so called needed facilities.… Read more »

Very Concerned Citizen
Very Concerned Citizen
7 years ago
Reply to  fine7760

THANK YOU, fine7760….you are a voice of reason. Your voice will be important when and if the city actually does do meaningful outreach to the community for “improvements” to Plummer Park.

Disco Dan
Disco Dan
7 years ago

To quote: ‘ “These important new measures enacted today will help boost economic development in some of our most disadvantaged and deserving communities,” said Gov. Brown’. Excuuusssssssssssse me ? West Hollywood is disadvantaged ? One would not know that with the landscape being rearranged and revamped almost every day. Councilmember Duran often touts the $100 million we have in the till. I suggest that WeHo give these monies to a TRULY disadvantaged AND deserving community.

Very Concerned Citizen
Very Concerned Citizen
7 years ago

from the article:
…“These important new measures enacted today will help boost economic development in some of our most disadvantaged and deserving communities,”
Really? West Hollywood=AAA bond rating and $100MILLION in reserve!

Boy are we ever disadvantaged and deserving……

Mike Dolan
Mike Dolan
7 years ago

Thank you to all of our municipal officials, state officials and Gov. Brown. This is a new beginning for all of West Hollywood and her future. Fantastic example of how we can come together and progress forward through compromise. Plummer Park and our affordable housing developments will move forward.

Alison
Alison
7 years ago

This is going to be interesting.

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