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L.A. City Council may transfer up to $1.03 billion in redevelopment funds out of state lawmakers' hands [Updated]

March 8, 2011 |  9:00 am

Worried that state officials will soon sign off on Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to shutter redevelopment agencies, the Los Angeles City Council is scheduled Tuesday to move as much as $1.3 billion in redevelopment funds out of the hands of state lawmakers.

[Updated, 5:10 p.m.: A previous version of this post said the council might transfer up to $1.3 billion.]

On the same day Los Angeles voters go to the polls for seven open council seats, the council is scheduled to consider a series of financial commitments, property transfers, housing loans and consulting contracts favored by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's appointees at the Community Redevelopment Agency.

Times' Data Desk: How is your redevelopment agency spending money?

The meeting starts at 10:15 a.m. and will feature a joint session with Villaraigosa's redevelopment appointees. The hastily scheduled meeting irked Councilwoman Jan Perry, who said it was "illogical" to take up the proposals on a day that many of her colleagues are busy thinking about their own campaigns.

"One half of the City Council is up for reelection. This is a massive issue that we're about to vote on, and it merits our full attention," she said.

Supporters of the redevelopment agency say it should be allowed to continue its mission of providing much-needed housing and amenities to low-income neighborhoods, including South Los Angeles and Boyle Heights.

Critics contend too many redevelopment projects are financial giveaways to politically well-connected businesses, depriving schools and hospitals across the state of scarce tax revenue.

The redevelopment board voted weeks ago to recommend the council tie up $930 million for scores of projects planned by the agency over the next five years.

Such a move would preserve $35,000 available for security cameras in Reseda, $1.6 million for the renovation of a shopping center in North Hollywood and $50 million for a proposed skyscraper on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, according to a report submitted Monday to the council.

Redevelopment officials worked furiously over the weekend to stage a second shift of funds. At 8 a.m. Monday, the redevelopment board agreed to allocate $103 million, including loans for affordable housing projects and an extension of existing contracts with up to 19 law firms.

David Bloom, who was hired as the agency’s new public relations consultant at Monday’s emergency board meeting, defended the board's actions, saying it felt it needed to move quickly.

“We’re trying to make sure the city can continue to do the things it wants to do in an appropriate fashion for the communities that it made commitments to,” he said.


Redevelopment agencies shortchanged California schools $40 million

California cities launch ad campaign to protect redevelopment agencies

Affordable-housing advocates push plan to preserve tax money for redevelopment

-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall