Gatto, Liu say they're ready to help Glendale

State lawmakers said this week that despite complaints from local officials, they are willing to help cities stymied by the end of redevelopment through the dissolution process — if they ask.

During a City Hall meeting last week, city and Los Angeles County officials charged with overseeing the end of local redevelopment criticized Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Canada Flintridge) and Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) for not doing enough to help Glendale through a confusing and frustrating dissolution process.

“You have a groundbreaking, you have a ribbon cutting, you have any other kind of project or program that had been funded by redevelopment and they’re there,” City Manager Scott Ochoa said at the Oversight Committee meeting. “I don’t know if they’re there understanding … the impact the loss of redevelopment has had on this community, yet they’re there to hand out certificates and cut the ribbon.”

Others on the committee, including Carl Raggio, a Los Angeles County representative and former Glendale city councilman, called on the state representatives to lobby the California Department of Finance on the city’s behalf.

Glendale officials have long complained about the problems associated with dissolving their redevelopment agency. The program that once brought the Americana at Brand and Disney’s massive Creative Campus to the city now causes more headaches and hand-wringing than celebration.

Last week, oversight and city officials said they were fed up with inconsistencies in state Finance Department decisions over redevelopment obligations. State lawmakers, they added, had to take responsibility for the mess they caused by siding with Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to end redevelopment in the first place.

Last year, Brown signed into law a bill that shifted the property taxes Glendale and other cities received for redevelopment projects to state coffers to close a multibillion-dollar budget gap.

Both Gatto and Liu’s camps said they were unaware of Glendale’s most recent complaints, noting that they have aided other cities with redevelopment problems. Last month, for example, Gatto’s chief of staff, John Ferrera, said the lawmaker helped broker a deal with state finance officials that would allow IKEA in Burbank to leave its current building and expand into a much larger space.

“The first we’re hearing about their sense that they need more help was in last week’s public meeting, but we’re always ready to help,” Ferrera said, adding that Gatto’s office has made inquiries on the city’s behalf and met with city officials in the past.

Ferrera’s counterpart at Liu’s office, Suzanne Reed, echoed his sentiments, adding that city officials have not asked Liu to attend a meeting about redevelopment issues. In fact, she said, their office recommends joint meetings with lawmakers and finance officials.

“That approach seems to be the most effective in getting a response,” Reed said.


Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.

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