DOWNTOWN — City Hall can cross six items off the long list of problems caused by the redevelopment agency dissolution.
Six disputed Downtown parking structures are off the hook, California Department of Finance officials told City Hall in a letter earlier this week.
Tongva Park and the extension of Olympic Drive remain in dispute, according to the state, but city officials are confident that they will be approved.
Every redevelopment agency in the state folded in 2011 to plug a budget deficit after a California Supreme Court-backed decision by Gov. Jerry Brown.
In October, City Hall agreed to pay the state a $57 million settlement over RDA funds, ending the first half of the dispute. Properties are the second part of the dispute, with the state refusing the transfer of 11 parcels and projects that used RDA funding for financing.
Now that they’ve agreed to relinquish Parking Structures 1 through 6, only Tongva Park and four plots related to the extension of Olympic Drive are left untransfered.
The state told city officials that if Santa Monica’s local redevelopment successor agency oversight board adopts these two projects as government-purpose assets, they too will be relinquished, said Andy Agle, director of Planning and Economic Development. Department of Finance spokesperson H.D. Palmer confirmed this to be true.
Olympic Drive is under construction, Agle said, but once it’s open the oversight board will deem it to be a government-purpose asset. With Tongva Park, the oversight board took action too early, state officials told City Hall. They need to re-adopt the park as a government-purpose asset now that it is open, Agle said.
In September, City Hall sent a four-page letter to the state explaining why the properties were vital public assets. They pointed to public parking structures in Santa Barbara that had recently been deemed valuable government-purpose assets by the state. In November, city officials, including Agle and City Manager Rod Gould, flew to Sacramento to argue that City Hall should keep all of the properties.
If the state had refused to transfer the parking structures, they would have been liquidated or operated as profit-making ventures, Agle said.
City Hall plans, including the long-term Downtown parking plan, were in limbo due to the uncertainty surrounding the structures, Agle said.
“I think the first thing we need to do is take a breath and recognize that this cloud that has been hanging over us has been lifted,” he said. “Then we are going to need to regroup and think about what this means for some of our longer-term plans.”
With state disputes winding down, city officials will turn to the State Controller’s and Attorney General’s offices, the other two government agencies trying to recoup RDA funds.
“They don’t always talk to one another but they all have the same marching orders, which is maximize the takeback to the state,” Gould told the Daily Press in October.
He called the state’s decision “a welcome development at the close of the year.”
“While there are still hurdles to crest in the new year and perhaps beyond, likely involving the State Controller’s Office, this resolution of ownership of such key assets is a major step toward conclusion of the dissolution of redevelopment in Santa Monica,” Gould said.