Poway council implements housing authority, agreements in response to threatened elimination of RDA
(UPDATE: Governor Brown’s attempt to eliminate local redevelopment programs fell one vote short in the state Assembly on Wednesday. As of noon Monday, Aug. 21, there have been no additional votes relating to redevelopment.)
In light of Gov. Jerry Brown’s attempt to abolish local redevelopment agencies, the Poway City Council took steps March 11 to make sure the city retains control over its redevelopment revenues and programs.
Meeting in a special 7:30 a.m. session, the council voted 4-0 to approve the implementation of a housing authority and several “cooperation agreements” allowing existing and future funds generated by the city’s redevelopment district and all current and future redevelopment agency projects to be controlled by either the city or the new housing authority. Councilwoman Merrilee Boyack was absent.
Brown has proposed the elimination of all local redevelopment agencies (RDAs) in the state and the transferring of all unallocated funds from those agencies to the state as a way to help balance the state budget. California lawmakers are working on a budget compromise which could be voted upon as soon as this weekend.
Since the bill would be declared an “urgency” measure, it would go into effect right away, special counsel Murray Kane told the council Friday morning. The moment it’s signed the Poway RDA would have no authority to contract, spend money or perform other functions, he said.
“We know such a bill would be unconstitutional,” Kane said, but the actions proposed Friday morning would protect the city from the taking by the state of redevelopment money and will allow the city to retain local control of affordable housing and redevelopment programs, he said.
Cooperation agreements are legal, binding documents that have been used before, Kane said.
The new Poway Housing Authority was authorized March 1 by the council but was officially activated Friday. The council also authorized the transfer of titles on 75 RDA-owned properties to the city, approved having the city accept cash payments from the RDA and approved a schedule of tax increment expenditures for redevelopment projects extending through 2037.
The city, rather than the RDA, now has control over $23 million in affordable housing funds, $7.7 million in notes, leases and promissory notes due to the RDA and $9.2 million in debt service related to operations.
City Council members will sit as Poway Housing Authority commissioners but will receive no increase in meeting compensations. Within the next year two citizen members will be added to the board; one will be over 65 years of age.
City Manager Penny Riley said that by taking the recommended legal steps, Poway will protect itself against what she called “an unconstitutional state grab.” The special meeting was called, she said, because the political situation in Sacramento is “moving faster than we’re comfortable with … we could be out of work by this weekend.”
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