Costa Mesa keeps housing program in-house

COSTA MESA — Forced to choose between handing to the county the responsibilities for the city's affordable housing or creating a city-run housing agency, the City Council on Tuesday elected to keep the responsibility in-house.

The Costa Mesa Housing Authority will now oversee $9 million in affordable-housing accounts. The accounts used to belong to the city's redevelopment agency (RDA) until it was dissolved by Sacramento legislation, which cities challenged but the state Supreme Court upheld in December.

The RDA lent funds to the projects, which pay the city back over time.

City officials are still trying to determine how much will come back to Costa Mesa annually. Like the RDA, the entire City Council comprises the Housing Authority board.

State lawmakers voted to dissolve RDAs statewide to send more money to Sacramento. As of now, RDA money that would have been used by the Housing Authority is unavailable, but city officials said a law that would free up those funds is working its way through Sacramento.

Meanwhile, a $10-million loan from Costa Mesa to the RDA remains in the air. The state Supreme Court ruled that only loans made to an RDA within the first years of creation can be reclaimed by its successor agency — which, in this case, is the city of Costa Mesa.

City Finance Director Bobby Young told the council Tuesday that the original loan was $50,000 and subsequent amendments to the loan over the years added up to the $10 million hanging in the balance.

Young said his department is tracing down each amendment over the last 40 years so the city can present a case that the money legally belongs to Costa Mesa, not Sacramento.

Twitter: @JosephSerna

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World