City takes over redevelopment agency obligations

SOLANA BEACH — Council members unanimously agreed at the Jan. 11 meeting to take over the city’s redevelopment agency, which will be dissolved as of Feb. 1 after a state Supreme Court ruling upheld a 2011 law eliminating the agencies.

As the successor agency the city will control all assets, pay off existing debts, dispose of the agency’s properties and assets to help pay those debts and return revenues to the local government entities that receive property taxes.

Beginning May 1, the successor agency will be overseen by a seven-member board appointed by the mayor, the Board of Supervisors, a former redevelopment agency employee, the chancellor of state community colleges, the county superintendent of education and the largest special district.

The director of the Department of Finance will oversee the board.

“The city, being the sponsoring entity of the former RDA, is more likely to be sensitive to the long-term development needs of the city and the community,” City Attorney Johanna Canlas said. “It has a vested interest in protecting and ensuring that the city’s reputation in the financial market is protected.”

“I’m truly concerned about somehow down the road that the city (gets) stuck with having to pay … a portion of these obligations from general fund or other fund dollars,” Councilman Tom Campbell said.

Canlas said she didn’t believe there were any general fund liabilities in the law and the city can always opt out.

“There’s only one time that you can opt in … but you will always have an opportunity to delegate that to some other entity to be the successor agency if you decide that this is not for you,” she said.

“I think truly that the negatives that could occur by not being the successor agency, especially if things change down the road, far outweigh … the risk of being the successor agency,” City Manager David Ott said, adding that if the city opts out the responsibility would fall to the county.

“To preserve your rights of the council, and future rights, it’s definitely the opinion of our legal advisors, the League of California Cities (and) the California Redevelopment Association to be the successor agency,” he said.

“And then at a later date if things were to change for the positive … you have the ability … to opt out.”
Councilman Dave Roberts said the San Diego division of the League of California Cities recommended all members take this step immediately.

“It seems like the only thing and the best thing for us to do,” Councilwoman Lesa Heebner said.

Solana Beach adopted its redevelopment plan in 2004. It includes the Highway 101 commercial corridor north of Dahlia Avenue and the Eden Gardens neighborhood.

Redevelopment agencies allowed cities to use part of their property tax revenue — money that would otherwise go to state coffers — to improve areas that have been deemed blighted.

Ott said the only major proposed development in jeopardy is the La Colonia Park and Community Center improvement project.

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