Redevelopment agencies are vital

On Dec. 29, the California Supreme Court upheld the Legislature’s dissolution of all redevelopment agencies across California. The impact of this legislation on the city of Glendale cannot be overstated. Quite simply, millions of dollars of local tax revenue, which would have been invested in our community, must now be redirected to Sacramento.

There are currently efforts to postpone the dissolution of redevelopment.  While this step would give cities the ability to better plan for the future, the real solution is for the Legislature to create a new mechanism that would allow cities to continue to create jobs, attract needed investment, initiate economic development, provide well-planned and quality affordable housing, clean up blight and enhance public safety.

Our locally driven, locally focused economic development efforts and public/private partnerships have served our community well:

• Job Creation: In the last year alone, agency projects have created more than 9,000 construction and permanent jobs; future commercial projects will create an additional 10,200 jobs;

• Affordable Housing: Over 1,000 new units, 600-plus rehabilitated units and aid to about 350 low-income first time homebuyers;

• Transportation Improvements:  Brand Boulevard reconstruction, San Fernando Road reconstruction and the Larry Zarian Transportation Center;

• Safety Improvements: “Safe Corridor” railroad crossings to eventually allow a “quiet zone” for local residents; Fire Department Headquarters;

• Park Improvements: Adult Recreation Center, Griffith Manor Park and Chess Park;

• Cultural Facilities and Programs: Historic Alex Theatre rehabilitation and development into a regional performing arts center; Cruise Night, an event drawing 30,000 people to our downtown; Love Ride, raising more than $20 million for local charities and philanthropic organizations;

• Libraries: Four agency projects in 2010 covered the entire library budget;

• Safety: 2010’s agency projects covered the cost of 46 fire staff and 51 police staff;

• Schools: GUSD received a combined total of about $1 million annually in pass-through payments from the agency; GUSD received a $1.8-million loan from the agency to rebuild Glendale High School’s Moyse Field; and

• Code Compliance: Agency-funded programs included graffiti removal and building rehabilitation.

The above-listed ongoing projects and services will now have to be either eliminated or funded at the expense of other city services and programs.

Make no mistake, economic development has been crucial to our community’s success.  In 2010 alone, four notable projects generated $7.92 million for Glendale’s General Fund, which pays for our Police and Fire departments as well as our parks and libraries.  Without the investments in economic development there would be no Glendale Galleria, Americana at Brand, Hilton, Embassy Suites, Disney Grand Central Creative Campus, DreamWorks Animation Studio or KABC 7 Television Studio.  The return on the community’s investment has been significant and undeniably positive.

The stakes are high. Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision, Glendale was poised to undertake several projects, which are now threatened. These include:

• Central Library: Rehabilitation and reorientation project;

• Alex Theatre Expansion: Upgrades to enhance regional competitiveness;

• Central Avenue: Street reconstruction and improvements;

• The Museum of Neon Art/Paseo: The construction of a cultural amenity and paseo to link Central Park, Central Library and the Americana at Brand;

• Laemmle Theater and Lofts: Five-screen theater, 42 residential units and related restaurant/commercial space as the northern “anchor” of Brand Boulevard;

Courtyard by Marriott: Major hotel in downtown area generating transient occupancy tax;

• San Fernando Creative Corridor: Incentives that have attracted creative businesses to Glendale including Kinetic Lighting and Technicolor.

Essentially, local dollars and local decisions need to stay local. We invite our state legislators to work with us to find ways to keep our resources available to fund local projects, improvements, jobs, and services that benefit our community.

Mayor Laura Friedman, city of Glendale

Joylene Wagner, Glendale Unified School District board president

Ann H. Ransford, Glendale Community College District Board of Trustees clerk

Jeanne Brewer, Glendale Chamber of Commerce board president

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