City looks at economic development agency

Redevelopment may be dead in Glendale, but economic development is not.

On Tuesday, the City Council introduced an ordinance that would establish a new legal framework for economic development in Glendale in a post-Redevelopment Agency world.

In February, a state mandate redirecting millions in incremental property taxes from city coffers to the state’s forced the closure of local redevelopment agencies across California. With that tool now gone, nowhere in the city’s legal code is there a mechanism to spur economic development. Now officials are taking steps to change that, said City Manager Scott Ochoa.

While City Council members have said Glendale needs a way to boost economic development similar to the way the Redevelopment Agency did with projects such as the Americana at Brand and Disney’s Creative Campus, some said they thought creating a new mechanism right now was too soon.

“I really think this came up too quickly,” said Councilman Ara Najarian, noting that he had not been briefed on the legal and financial implications of setting up a new economic development body.

Councilman Frank Quintero also said he needed to sit down with staff to work out the details, although he thought the proposal was a step in the right direction.

Community Development Director Hassan Haghani said that this move was just the first step in getting the ball rolling. The details of a new organization would be discussed at future public meetings, he added.

City officials are working their way through murky waters as they try to fully understand the effects of the redevelopment wind-down on Glendale. The agency paid for salaries in planning, redevelopment, building and safety and other departments, and was to pay the city back millions in loans. But officials now are uncertain if that will happen.

The proposed economic development organization could do much of what the redevelopment agency did, including buying and selling property, as well as disposing of property for fair-market or less than fair-market value, so long as it spurs economic development, according to a city report.

It could also offer grants, loans, tax rebates and other assistance to attract and retain businesses, according to the report.

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