Last month, Glendale and Burbank officials worked quickly to protect their redevelopment agencies as debate reached a peak over Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to eliminate the 400 or so agencies statewide and reallocate the $5 billion they receive.
Brown’s plan failed to receive the necessary legislative support in its first go-round, just as his overall budget proposal fell short. Since then, redevelopment officials have waited in near silence to find out whether the governor is still seeking to close the agencies by July 1, or if negotiations for a compromise will pick up again.
“I’m not sure anything is going on, to tell you the truth,” John Shirey, executive director of the California Redevelopment Assn., said. “They tell us there are some talks going on between the governor and Senate Republicans, but we’re not getting reports of anything coming out of those talks.”
Brown is traveling the state pitching the top item on his agenda — extending current sales, vehicle and property tax levels — in an effort to pressure a handful of reluctant lawmakers to support a tax extension ballot measure.
“In the midst of that, nobody has brought up redevelopment in the last few days,” Shirey said. “But I don’t believe for a moment it’s gone away. The governor hasn’t changed his position that he wants to obliterate us.”
Lawmakers sought a compromise last month in which the agencies would route up to $1 billion to public schools this year, and give up a total of $2.7 billion over the next 10 years. But the governor’s office is seeking at least $1.7 billion this year.
Evan Westrup, a spokesman for the governor’s office, said Brown “remains committed” to cutting the agencies and that the compromise proposal is “woefully inadequate.”
“The governor continues to believe that given our fiscal crisis, we need to take a hard look at how scarce taxpayer dollars are being spent,” Westrup said. “Continuing to send billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize private developers when core public services are being cut is problematic.”
Earlier this year, Glendale officials reacted furiously to the possibility that the Glendale Redevelopment Agency would be “vaporized,” as Mayor Ara Najarian put it. It launched a new $50-million bond measure, repaid $32 million the agency had borrowed from the city and rushed to approve a series of long-planned redevelopment projects.
Philip Lanzafame, the city’s chief assistant director for community development, said the flurry of activity is over.
“There was a lot of urgency,” Lanzafame said. “We’re looking to maintain local control and local revenue that was intended for Glendale.”
Burbank took a few defensive measures in the face of the governor’s plan, repaying $13 million of a loan from the city to the agency and transferring agency-owned real estate into the city’s hands.
Ruth Davidson-Guerra, Burbank’s assistant director of community development, said now it is time to wait and see what happens.
“We realize at any given moment, this whole issue could flare up again,” she said. “We’re trying to remain optimistic that some negotiated deal will occur.”
Westrup suggested the next major push may come shortly before the May 14 deadline for the governor to offer a revised budget plan to lawmakers.
The California Citizens Redistricting Commission is coming to Southern California later this month, and the public meetings it has scheduled from April 27 to April 30 may be crowded.
The commission’s goal is to ignore partisan politics and draw sensible district lines for Congress, the state Senate and the state Assembly. But the process has drawn huge interest from the political parties.
For example, as the commission sought in the last few months to hire redistricting consultants, party leaders have bashed those experts whom they believe have strong partisan ties.
Eric Bauman, the chairman of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, said he understands that partisan politics has no role in the redistricting process. But he is still encouraging Democrats to go to the forums.
“I want all my activists and leaders to go to the meetings and talk about their communities,” Bauman said.
Residents must make sure that the 14 members of the commission understand the people they are about to draw lines around, he added.
For example, he said, “You want to make sure the commission is aware that there is a heavy Armenian-American population in Glendale.
“Forget politics,” Bauman said. “It affects all of us where we live.”
The commission will meet in Long Beach on April 27, Los Angeles on April 28, San Gabriel on April 29. A San Fernando Valley site has yet to be determined for April 30.
For more information, visit www.wedrawthelines.ca.gov.
Glendale artist Richard Heimbold will represent California’s 21st Senate District in the Senate’s Biannual California Contemporary Art Collection.
State Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) chose Heimbold’s painting of the Alex Theatre to hang at the Capitol in Sacramento for the next two years.
A longtime Glendale artist and president of the Glendale Art Assn., Heimbold has done a series of oil paintings capturing landmarks around Los Angeles.
“This particular piece depicting the Alex Theatre in Glendale celebrates our commitment to historic preservation, the arts, and lively venues where community members gather,” Liu said in a statement.