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State Assembly Passes Bloom’s Redevelopment Bill

Ben Allen for State Senate

Richard Bloom For State Assembly 2014
Richard Bloom for State Assemblymember 2014

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Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

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By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

May 30, 2014 --Funding pulled from redevelopment projects to help balance the State budget moved a step closer to being restored, after a bill introduced by former Santa Monica Mayor  Richard Bloom was approved by the State Assembly this week.

Bloom’s bill calls for approximately $750 million in redevelopment bond money to be freed up for cities in California, including Santa Monica. The money has been frozen since 2011, when the State dissolved redevelopment agencies (RDAs).

A return of this redevelopment money to Santa Monica could mean the resurrection of projects such as the $50 million renovation of the historic Civic Auditorium.

“When the Legislature and governor stripped redevelopment agencies away from cities in 2011, we lost a major tool in fighting blight and reinvigorating our local economies,” Bloom said after the Assembly’s 68 to 1 vote in favor of the bill Tuesday.

“Worst of all, many cities like West Hollywood and Santa Monica were in the middle of moving major projects forward when the state withheld their funds,” Bloom said. “This bill will allow us to get back on track with important economic development projects overwhelmingly supported by the local electorate.”

Created in 1945 as a method to improve blighted areas, RDAs attached to various cities and some counties were funded through property tax money that would have otherwise gone elsewhere, so the State compensated those who lost revenue.

Santa Monica’s Redevelopment Agency was established in the wake of the 1994 Northridge earthquake that battered the bayside city, and for nearly two decades pumped tens of millions of dollars a year into local capital projects.

As a method to reduce a Sacramento budget shortfall, Gov. Brown signed a bill dissolving the RDAs in June 2011.

Local governments challenged the State’s action, but the California Supreme Court ruled in Sacramento’s favor a few days before the end of 2011.

While some RDA-funded projects already in the pipeline were able to go forward after the dissolution under the authorization of what are called redevelopment successor agencies, others were not.

 If Bloom’s bill becomes law, the freed-up money would be distributed to the successor agencies.

A statement issued by Bloom’s office says his bill “reflects a years’ worth of conversations with the Governor’s office, the Department of Finance and construction trade groups since the bill was initially introduced,” indicating it could be something Gov. Brown would sign if it reaches his desk.

“This bill offers a common sense solution that will foster job creation, economic development, affordable housing construction and the completion of needed infrastructure projects,” Bloom said. “The bonds are there waiting. We just need to allow local governments to use them.”

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