Friday, June 1, 2012

CRA Blues: Bye Bye Sierra Madre Parking Lots?

"The CRA lawsuit filed by Pasadena, Glendale and other cities to recover their lost redevelopment funds was denied yesterday by a Sacramento Judge. Further the Judge ruled that Santa Barbara's many parking lots built with CRA funds must be sold and the proceeds returned to the state. A lot more to come on what the CRA funds were used for, which is not good news. The CRA owns City Hall. What is coming to an end is the corruption and cynical use of our property tax money for Development, Real Estate and an entrenched City Administration's personal sand box." - pungent commentary left here anonymously yesterday @ 10:50 AM.

Last night's Oversight Board/CRA Successor Agency chin wag was basically designed to lay out rules and procedures, plus picking figureheads that will get to occupy the more desirable seats at the dais. And if you don't think that is a big deal, then ask Joe Mosca why he was so upset at being passed over twice for Mayor. The center of attention is where anyone of consequence would want to be. The Chair was chosen, which is to be Marilyn Diaz, our former Chief of Police. The Vice Chair was picked, and that is to be a Mister Tom "Real" Love.

Bart Doyle wasn't there last evening, which kind of indicates he believed that nothing really all that important was going to happen. He may be saving his star power for far more dramatic future proceedings, and will then be an integral part of the action.

Some things were explained, though I am not certain that much comfort was extended to the concerned as was hoped by those conducting this affair. The choosing of the CRA Oversight Board is dictated by the law AB1X2, which means this is a Sacramento run operation. In case you have never had the pleasure, here is a passage from that law describing its mission. You can access the rich prose of the whole thing by clicking here.

The bill would suspend various agency activities and prohibit agencies from incurring indebtedness commencing on the effective date of this act. Effective October 1, 2011, the bill would dissolve all redevelopment agencies and community development agencies in existence and designate successor agencies, as defined, as successor entities. The bill would impose various requirements on the successor agency action to review of oversight boards, which the bill would establish.

To me the most important part of that passage is the bit about who is going to get to wear the pants here in Sierra Madre when it comes to the state clawback of what once was considered to be "our" CRA money. It will not be the CRA Successor Agency, also known as the Sierra Madre City Council. No, backed by the full power of the state, the "Oversight Board," in this case chaired by Marilyn Diaz and powered by Johnny B 'n Bart, outranks our locally elected officials. Who in this matter will be required to knuckle under. Think of it as an occupation government. Or at least a partial one. The City Council will still have dog ordinances and fee increases to ponder.

To use one of those always popular cosmic metaphors, the vast debt generation going on in Sacramento has become like a black whole in space, and is currently sucking everything of value into it. The need for more and more money has become so desperate for the one party apparatus governing California that they are now looking for anything that isn't permanently cemented to the planet's iron core to consume. That includes CRA funded City properties, and we do have some of those. And the Oversight Board is here to help Sacramento to decide which of those we can hope to keep, and which are to go spinning off into the maw of a state government that can never seem to get enough of the good stuff.

So who are these people that are to be our overlords in these sobering matters? They come from many walks of life. And only two of them were appointed by we the Citizens of Sierra Madre through the auspices of our elected officials on the City Council. That would be Johnny B Buchanan, and Karin Schnaider. Two other former Sierra Madre officials also serve on the Oversight Board, those being Bart Doyle and Former Police Chief and now Board Chair Marilyn Diaz. They were appointed by the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, whose members for life include Michael Antonovich. Which is whom we suspect of being responsible for Bart. Michael also played a rockin' role in the creation of Measure A, and Bart's oddly destructive role there may have pleased Antonovich.

The other folks might be more obscure to many residents here, but are in their own special ways big machers in the misty world of San Gabriel Valley quasi-governmental entities. Oversight Board Vice Chair Tom Love rocks the world from his seat on the San Gabriel Valley Water District. If you have ever watched a City Council meeting where some dude has come up to the podium with one of our favorite examples of very strange government marketing, Water Wise Owl, that's Tom. Tom was a big supporter of Joe Mosca. I think they still exchange messages on their facebook pages.

Richard Van Pelt comes to us via Pasadena Community College where he serves as the VP of Administrative Services. He also teaches courses in business education, which really isn't education at all. Or at least it isn't from the perspective of my liberal arts background. According to Rate My Professors.com, Richard has a high "Hotness Factor" as his profile features the picture of a red chili. To put this into perspective, Professor Eugene Goss, former City Council candidate and now Radio Fishbowl talk show host, has no red chili on his Rate My Professors.com page.

Our last contestant is David Jaynes, who comes to us from the shadowy world of the Pasadena Unified School District. The PUSD, which is about as popular as a skunk in a trash can here in Sierra Madre, being the current source of a lot of woe locally. Reneging on previous promises made regarding Measure TT bond funding for school construction, along with the anti-Sierra Madre restrictions contained in Measure A, have not pleased very many here. David was also absent last night. Maybe the thought of being here made him uncomfortable.

The big concern is how this Oversight Board will dispose of City properties. The apparent State policy regarding this is if a City can prove legitimate and ongoing governmental use of its CRA controlled properties, then the State will allow those properties to remain under local control. Our City Hall, along with the combined Police and Fire Department structure, being examples of CRA funded buildings that might otherwise have been sucked into the Death Star.

However, there are CRA controlled Sierra Madre properties that might not qualify for the designation of "legitimate governmental use." And at the top of that list are our once upon a time CRA-owned City parking lots. Recently Santa Barbara received significant ink (or digital impressions, which are all just lights on a screen, you know), about their consternation over the very possible loss of their parking lots to the state. This from KEYT.com (click here):

Will Santa Barbara Have to Sell its Downtown Parking Lots? The future of downtown businesses is at stake. The city of Santa Barbara may have to sell it's public parking lots in downtown, in an effort to generate funding for the state. The state's department of finance has released a trailer bill stating hat all parking lots and structures owned by the former redevelopment agency is to be considered surplus property, and sold off rather than transferred to the city. It's the latest fallout from the loss of the city's CRA.

Heavy. This loss here in Sierra Madre, should it occur, can be seen as a consequence of the unfortunate governmental practices during what have become known as the "shenanigan years." Which should not be confused in any way with the "wonder years." And one of these practices was putting City-owned properties under the control of the CRA in order to free up some of the millions in property tax cash there for other purposes. Such as funding much of the planning for the Downtown Specific Plan, partially financing a wine tasting room, or paying $30,000 for a "market demand" study. That many of these things happened when Bart Doyle and John Buchanan were serving as our elected officials does add a rich patina of irony to these proceedings.

One more thing that needs to be cleared up before I stop typing. It might be seen as something of a relief that this Oversight Board is at least partially made up of local worthies who will show us mercy when decisions on things like those parking lots are made. However, we should not take too much comfort in that, I'm afraid.

You see, anything that they might do is subject to the review of the State Department of Finance. The same dudes who are currently liberating Santa Barbara's beloved parking lots and structures. Basically all that our Oversight Board and its eclectic mix of local solons are going to do is put together reports that will detail exactly what is available to Sacramento for their dining pleasure. With the State Finance boys deciding what they will and will not take, no matter what our Oversight Board might say about it.

Here are the results of my gaze into the crystal ball. Should Jerry Brown's tax increase measure not pass this November, the state's ferocious cash jones will need to be satisfied elsewhere. And one of the places that they will look at very hard are City controlled former CRA properties. And it might not just be parking lots that they will take.

Happy Friday.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

56 comments:

  1. Lucky for us. Jerry Brown's tax increase will not appear on the ballot until the November election.

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    1. Cool. Then when it doesn't pass we can be his Christmas turkey dinner.

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    2. This is good news. It will give Karin the time to create the quality spreadsheets necessary to let Sacramento know where our good stuff is hidden.

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    3. Karin's numbers are always WRONG.

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    4. That's why she's there.

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    5. Karin's number are supplied by Buchanan, how could they be right?

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    6. Buchanan's numbers aren't fact, they're spin.

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  2. So if they sell the parking lots, that seems to be another reason not to build in Sierra Madre. No more room to park, so only locals can walk to town to shop.

    Pray tell and what will be those parking lots become? Community run healthy gardens/parks so our quality of life can improve and the Wed Market can begone?

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    1. The former parking lots will become non-smoking areas to remind us that we shouldn't encourage tobacco use - except when we want to tax it.

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    2. Any confiscated properties will become little plums for developers to reinstitute the affordable housing hustle.

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    3. Available land is more reason to build, not less.

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    4. I'll but they could get upwards of 75 units on some of those lots.

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    5. That would be so green, 7:48!

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  3. "A rich patina of irony ..." Indeed.

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  4. Don Watts had been warning about this, and Doyle and Buchannan's role in creating the groundwork for this disaster. Sort of like God warning Noah about the chances of a great big flood.
    Be ready to head for high ground.....

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    1. I remember one city council meeting where Elaine Aguilar was very insistent that the CRA did not own City Hall. Somebody please, we need to get that howler up on the Neuroblast site.

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  5. Crawford, we commend you heartily for your ability to write with style and maintain your sense of humor in the midst of this constant flow of "government" generated effluence.

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  6. Glad To Be Anonymos NowJune 1, 2012 at 7:56 AM

    The parking lots will become high density housing with underground parking lots. All construction will be done in accordance with Sacramento's Uniform Building Code "UBC". This will be a perfect platform for the builders to come in with their Green Committee to design for transportation corridors. My opinion only but I'm putting my money on it. SUCKERS

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    1. You're probably right, "Glad to be anonymos"

      Although, on the other hand....the economy may stop this.
      They are about to run out of other people's money-taxpayer money.

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    2. What will Sac do after they're eaten all those parking lots?

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    3. Burp, and then look for more.

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    4. The shop owners should buy the parking lots and extend their property.

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  7. They certainly are going to be "green" for developers. The parking will be pay to park, which will discourage what little out of town business will come here.
    The local businesses will suffer because of it.

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    1. Sacramento doesn't spend a lot of time worrying about the concerns of business these days. They have state employee union pensions to pay.

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  8. 8:05 AM, collect the money.

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  9. Mr. Dirty Politics himself, Peter Dreier, has a "blog" up on the Patch urging everyone to vote yes on Measure A.

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  10. Sounds like the Church on Highland is to be sold. Looks like the City is going to place low income housing on Highland so that the City Manager can say the City had no choice, the State made us sell the property to the developer. The only way we could sell the property was for low income housing. Let the corruption continue. Our City Manager and her direction are the root of the majority of our problems in Sierra Madre. As the money disappears her ineptitude will only increase. We need change and Elaine needs to go.

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    1. One thing is for certain. Had the Sierra Madre voters elected MaryAnn MacGillivray along with Chris Koerber and John Capoccia....there would be an entire different direction here.
      We sadly have three Dart Boyle/John Green Buchanan puppets...they will destroy this town before they are through, unless the taxpayers rise up and fight.
      Please, please vote NO on Measure A. Vote No on the props.
      Please support Chris Koerber and John Cappocia...they are the minority, but look what the Zimmerman/Watts minority did....along with a strong citizen activist group, SMRRD.....they won Measure V....against all odds, they won it!

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  11. It'll be Muirsol's Foothill Village of Sierra Madre in no time. Local developer with bucks to burn.

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  12. Did the city dispose of all the old playground equipment when it put in the current set up with their last round of CRA spending?
    So when they have to sell it off there will be a big empty space where old serviceable equipment used to be. Was there competitive bidding for this project? Or just a big rush (new toilets behind city hall, too) to spend before the deadline? Where will Muirsol put all this stuff?

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    1. Big rush, it was a night of big rush, a spend-a-thon, and I hope the council majority that did that is heartily ashamed of their irresponsible choices.

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    2. Ah yes, who can ever forget Josh and his "encumbrances." Like the bill would never come.

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  13. Successor committee sounds like a thankless task. Your pal Buchanan asks you to be on an important committee and politicos think it will advance their cache and stupidly say yes.

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    1. Once Sacramento starts selling off Sierra Madre city properties anyone who served on that committee will be viewed as being responsible for it happening.

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  14. What happens with any property owned by the State is that it no longer falls under local regs, just like Federal property. Zoning, local restrictions, building codes, height limits, etc. all just fall away...

    The State will simply make available the properties once they take them over, and you know the developers will all be standing in line. Under public-private partnerships, the developers provide the project funding for a percentage of the return on whatever monstrous projects they come up with, so there's no risk in that investment. These projects also don't pay local taxes. Since there's no anticipated sale of the property down the road, it doesn't matter if there's no tenants or much revenue after it's built. Formula for blight.

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  15. Another side of the coin -- if Fresh and Easy goes through, (which will conform to Measure V)they can buy the parking lot. If not, there is a possibility of developing that corner as developers wished all along, with a multistory building with enough parking to go around.

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    1. Maybe Sacramento will put a density requirement on the sale of any property like that. 20 units per every 26 yards, something like that.

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  16. Hey, I put the "pungent remarks" up yesterday mainly to call attention to the CRA demise and the coming parking lot fiasco. I use the anonymous tag largly because I am not interested in recoginition only input on our evolving "black hole" Jim Engle

    If Billy Shields is as savy as he seems he will ammend the ALF plan to include a 5 level Paraking Garage under the ALF, as well as above and underground between his building and Arnolds.

    I have gone to the podium twice to call attention to the inadequate parking provisions when the City reviews developer plans. LA folks will continue to eschew any attempts to divert them from their autos and their need to park them.

    Lastly yesterday a question was posed on TV "How is building height determined in Washington DC?" Answer. "The width of the street plus 20 feet"
    No wonder Washington is a beautiful City and Pasadena is not.

    I return to anonymous

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    1. That was a great post, Jim. Pungent means very good in Tattlerese. Before I got taken over by this blog I used to be passing fair at crosswords. Now I have literally thousands of $5 words to play with.

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  17. Don't worry..

    1. It will not matter who buys "all" of those CRA properties...
    2. The city council will not grant any building improvements!
    3. No one is entitled to anything in this community.
    4. Zoning Or dances & Zoning Codes have no meanings...if the city attorney has his way...he will create a new definition ... such as the words "Dwelling Unit"

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    1. That's right, Josh & Walsh would never vote for more buildings!
      If you believe that, I have a bridge for sale.

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    2. Or a parking lot.

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    3. The residents of Sierra Madre have been blindsided and the city government doesn't care who gets hurt in the process...

      LETS RAISE THE WATER RATES ANOTHER 1,000%, the city employees need more benifits!

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  18. People it is Mur-Sol (not Muirsol)

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    1. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

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  19. Sierra Madre is lucky to have such anti development folks, looking back and after reading that story especially El Monte getting ready to default on a over 500 thousand dollar payment to bond holders, it could be much worse. I looked at that bond in 2007, it was issued for 18, but I guess they owed 27 or 28 to make the 45. They had refinanced a 2006 series of bonds and used it for the El Monte Water Authority. Basically a shell since 5 other companies served El Monte, and El Monte does not bill. But imagine a half built transit center sitting there. It is already torn up with massively seized blocks of properties, like where the other Santa Fe Plaza who defaulted, the the Wal Mart that never came. The car lots abandoned..

    I saw Mr. Alred throwing a hissy about his bond money, to be repaid by the generations not yet born to repay, which he claimed the city got legally over 60 years of laws. I am minded of Mr. Buchanan saying bond refinancing was harmless, everybody did it. But I am dismayed by your oversight committee members, like foxes guarding the hen house.

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    1. Hey Okie!
      Good to see you posting!
      How are you all doing?

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  20. Actually I think the CRA getting our parking lots and making the City repay for misappropriation of funds is kind of funny. It happened under Buchanan's Mayor ship and while he is on the the Over site Committee. Not a great legacy.

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    1. I feel some Public Access Information Act requests coming on. It is the only way we're going to get any transparency out of these characters.

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  21. Measure A debate on the Patch taking place between Peter Dreier and Hair Dreier. It's very seminal.

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    1. I don 't know, Hair Dreier seems to be getting the best of it right now. Peter has gone silent.

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  22. Since we're talking politics, maybe his name should be Spin Dreier.

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    1. We are expecting some Dreier weather conditions this weekend.

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  23. say goodbye to Sierra Madre city

    say hello to Sierra Madre, subdivision annexed into Pasadena

    tks Bart Doyle - never was good for the city and has been under investigation for years

    doesn't Tom Love work for a utility company or something like that?

    if he was selected by this group and part of the Buchanan wannabe somebody important - heaven help us

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  24. Buchanan's legacy is one of dishonest, betrayal of the people, self indulgence and overblown ego

    He got actually nothing done but tags along and claims that he saved the city from ruin

    instead he has put us a really tight spot and he's still clammering for attention and the spotlight

    jeez, wish the guy had a shaved head and maybe he wouldn't like himeself being photographed so much because he's into himself and his hair

    sorry to the bald guys

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  25. thanks to the bumbling Mayor and Dancing Shoes Walsh and the city being manipulated from the inside by Doyle, Buchanan and a host of developer friendly zealots

    our city will imploded and in a few years our dormant citizens will wake up and realize that they should have paid attention to the local politics and the "media" and the lies and borderline fraud of mismanagement and realize that had we paid a little more attention, the city wouldnt be in tatters

    i would be pleased in john buchanan would just move away like joe mosca

    one of the worst and deceptive councilmembers we've had in years

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