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Funding Revitalization in the Post-Redevelopment Era

A Los Angeles City Councilmember discusses his instructive quest to cobble together funding for the revitalization of his district after the termination of community redevelopment agencies.
December 28, 2015, 12pm PST | Elana Eden
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[Updated 1/4/2016. This post was updated with a corrected link.] The "financially depressed" San Fernando Valley community of Reseda stood to receive $60-70 million worth of potential projects before the California Redevelopment Agency was dissolved in 2011.

"I didn’t want us to completely lose all that," says L.A. City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, who represents Reseda.

Going ahead with revitalization plans would mean finding new sources of funding, and moving quickly to capture remaining funds and opportunities left behind by the CRA.

"Council offices, even in the pre-CRA world, were and continue to be very influential in the planning processes in their district," he says. But post-CRAs, they may be required, in some cases, to identify unlikely sources of funding.

First, he set about gaining city control over CRA properties so that they could continue to be developed. That involved some wrangling with the governor, who finally settled on a process that requires approval from multiple oversight boards.

There's also the question of nearly $90 million in bonds issued, but not spent, before the CRA was disbanded. Those monies are effectively suspended, unattached to a spending authority.

"Those bonds were let prior to the day that the bill cut off the CRAs," Blumenfield explains. “They were in the pipeline, so what happens to that money?”

That question is still not fully resolved. In the meantime, cities are becoming more creative in their searches for funding and partners.

In some cases, officials can identify funding, then use those opportunities as inspiration when identifying projects. Looking to Prop K, Blumenfield’s team found that money had been earmarked for a skating rink that was never completed. Now, he’s incorporated a “world-class facility” into his plans to bring growth to the area.

In the post-CRA era, Blumenfield explains, cities have to be resourceful:

"There’s overall financing like EIFDs; there’s project-specific financing that you just have to be opportunistic about; and there’s park financing, which you have to take advantage of and cobble things together."

This is Part II of a two-part interview with Councilmember Blumenfield in The Planning Report.

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Published on Wednesday, December 23, 2015 in The Planning Report
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