Ferraro Seeks More Muscle for Community Redevelopment : North Hollywood: The councilman wants the agency involved to have a bigger share of property taxes and an extension on eminent domain.
Los Angeles City Councilman John Ferraro on Tuesday urged the council to increase the taxing powers of the Community Redevelopment Agency in North Hollywood and extend the agency’s authority to seize land.
With the support of the agency’s officials, Ferraro introduced a motion that was referred to the community development committee.
He said the CRA needs more power because it has not finished its work in North Hollywood. “There remains blight and the need for new housing, continued economic development and additional public improvements,” said Ferraro, who represents the area.
Since it began operating in North Hollywood in 1979, the CRA has sponsored such developments as the 10-story Academy and the 200-unit Magnolia Towers senior citizens projects.
But the CRA faces a sharp slowdown and eventual collapse of its North Hollywood activities if its powers are not extended, said Robert Tague, CRA chief of operations.
To prevent this, the agency and Ferraro want to raise the existing $89-million cap on the CRA’s share of property taxes paid on improved properties within the 750-acre North Hollywood project.
“Right now, we have no money for new programs with the exception of some housing trust money, and that’s only a small amount of $750,000,” Tague said. “All the rest of the money is designated to complete existing projects or to retire debt.”
The agency also wants to extend its eminent domain powers, which are scheduled to expire in North Hollywood next February. The CRA’s ability to seize property--although it must pay market value--is one of its most powerful and controversial tools.
Tague said that the CRA won’t know by how much the tax cap should be raised, or how long the power to condemn should be extended, until these questions have been studied by experts.
Norton Halper, a critic of CRA projects throughout the city, said in an interview that he hopes to block extension of the project by getting activists like himself elected to the North Hollywood citizens advisory group.
The advisory group--called the Project Area Committee--can create obstacles to the Ferraro-CRA extension plan. If the group refuses to approve it, the proposal will require a two-thirds vote of the council, not a simple majority as it would now.