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City Gets Hands on CRA Funds Before Brown Takes Them

A CRA/LA sign in 2007 touted the arrival of the NoHo Commons in the NoHo Arts District (Photo by Lindsay William-Ross/LAist)
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Yesterday the Los Angeles City Council voted to "transfer $930 million in building projects overseen by the Community Redevelopment Agency to the city’s coffers," reports KPCC. The "nick of time" vote came after three postponements, as the issue garnered debate and the clock nearly ran out on the coveted monies.The urgency to get a hold of the funds and distribute them to several local projects comes from the state-level threat that the CRA's central organizing unit will be dissolved, and the funds will be distributed elsewhere to stop up the gaping holes elsewhere in California's ailing budget. Governer Jerry Brown included the dissolution of the CRA in his proposed state budget, which includes numerous realignments and cuts aimed at addressing out $26 billion deficit.

The Council's action yesterday was not without its internal and external critics.

The Daily News reports that Brown spokesman Gil Duran said in a phone interview: "It's a shame that at a time when school districts are laying off teachers or increasing class size, that cities like Los Angeles are trying to keep money behind a wall and not allow it to be used for vital programs."

Within the Council, Councilmen Paul Krekorian and Greig Smith were the two in the 12-2 vote who did not agree with the action, "which came in 33 separate votes," and followed five hours of debate. The result is the "drafting of an ordinance that would transfer 33 project areas from CRA/LA - an independent agency under state law - to the city's Community Development Department."

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CRA advocates credit the program and past funding for successful improvements in several parts of Los Angeles, including the ongoing revitalization of Hollywood and the Downtown business district. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said via a spokesperson that Brown's elimination of the CRA funds "puts the city at severe financial risk."