O.C. loses bid to block state from taking Great Park money

A Superior Court judge in Sacramento on Thursday rejected an attempt by Orange County officials to block the state from taking millions in property tax dollars that were to be used to build a sprawling municipal park that planners boasted would one day rival Griffith Park and Balboa Park in San Diego.

Irvine, the site of the old Marine base where the park is slowly taking shape, had asked for a temporary restraining order to keep the state from taking the money until the issue of redevelopment funds in California had been settled.

A Sacramento judge made a similar ruling a day earlier in a case involving a group of California cities including Glendale, Pasadena and Huntington Beach.

The Irvine suit stemmed from a ruling last week by the state Department of Finance that $1.4 billion in property taxes to be collected over 45 years can’t be used to transform the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station into the 1,300-acre Great Park, which is to feature an artificial canyon, lakes, meandering pathways and dozens of athletic fields.

The city was relying on taxes collected from housing and commercial development to be built around the Great Park to fund the project.

But the state Legislature's decision to eliminate redevelopment agencies means the money is no longer Irvine's to spend on the Great Park. 

This story was reported by Times Staff Writer Jeff Gottlieb.

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