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Opening shot fired in senate campaign

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) took the podium Tuesday night at City Hall and called on city officials to push their local lawmakers to fight for their power of redevelopment.

But this wasn’t Pasadena. It was in a city that lies outside his Assembly district — Glendale, a major voter hub for Sen. Carol Liu’s district. Portantino, who is expected to challenge Liu for her seat in the November election, fired a shot across Liu’s bow Tuesday in front of the Glendale City Council.

After espousing the city’s redevelopment story — which includes the Americana at Brand, massive studio campuses in the San Fernando Road corridor and other changes — Portantino suggested the council ask Liu “to come discuss what steps can be taken to help.”

His appearance, while unplanned, came after Portantino met with Glendale officials last week to discuss the implications of a state Supreme Court ruling siding with Brown and abolishing community redevelopment agencies.


Liu sided with the majority last year in voting for Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget plan, which ultimately eliminated local redevelopment agencies, leaving city officials fuming. She has since said she would support a compromise form of redevelopment focused on job creation and affordable housing, not retail projects.

Portantino — who caught flak from party leaders for voting against Brown’s plan — encouraged Glendale officials to let the city’s voice be heard, particularly regarding legislation authored by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles) that would extend the deadline for dismantling redevelopment agencies from Feb. 1 to April 15.

Portantino’s Assembly district includes La Cañada and the unincorporated area of La Crescenta, but not Glendale. He has been seeking endorsements from area Democratic organizations for the Senate seat in the new 25th District, an area that includes Burbank and Glendale, which Liu currently represents.

“It’s time to make the bodies — both the Senate and the Assembly — aware of your unique circumstances,” Portantino said prior to council members deciding to send a letter to local state lawmakers and Brown supporting the Padilla legislation and outlining their concerns about ending redevelopment.


“You’ve got a great story to tell of how successful you’ve been,” Portantino said.

One local example is the Alex Theatre, which could be turned over to the state if redevelopment is abolished. The state could sell it to a private owner, who may decide to no longer operate it as a theater.

Portantino said he’s seen the good work redevelopment has done in Glendale, as well as in cities throughout the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.

“We’ve got the good actors … who have done wonderful projects with redevelopment,” he said.

Glendale City Manager Scott Ochoa and city officials are scheduled to meet with Liu on Friday to talk about redevelopment. Glendale is also trying to arrange a meeting with Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake), according to city spokesman Tom Lorenz.