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City must determine its mandatory RDA commitments

Costa Mesa's special counsel says what's clear is that city needs to know its redevelopment agency's obligations by Sunday.

August 24, 2011|By Joseph Serna, joseph.serna@latimes.com

COSTA MESA — The city will have an emergency meeting of the Redevelopment Agency on Friday to cement what mandatory commitments the agency has and can't back out of in case it has to fold.

Costa Mesa officials are acting fast on the heels of Sacramento legislation that could dissolve RDAs across the state, a lawsuit challenging the two laws and a state Supreme Court ruling on the lawsuit temporarily blurring the picture for cities statewide.

The effects of Assembly bills 1X 26 and 1X 27 are complicated, said Costa Mesa's special counsel, Celeste Brady.

But what is clear, according to Brady, is whether the city decides to allow its RDA to fold or to remain intact, city officials need to get their unavoidable commitments officially nailed down by Sunday.

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The list of commitments — called an enforceable obligation payment schedule — was originally conceived for cities that would rather let their agencies shutter and just handle their remaining agreements than continue as an RDA and pay the state for the privilege.

Cities create RDAs to target specific areas in the community for revitalization, with a portion of the area's tax revenue being recycled specifically into that neighborhood.

Part of the legislation that would dissolve the state's redevelopment agency mandates that if a city wants to keep its agency going, it would have to pay about $1.5 million this year and a smaller amount annually for the next few years.

But the state Supreme Court's decision earlier this month to hear a lawsuit from several public agencies challenging the laws muddied the waters. Issuing a stay on portions of the laws, it appears now that all cities have to create a payment schedule as if they were dissolving.

Costa Mesa still has to decide if it wants to keep its RDA, which could require paying the state, or if it wants to let it fold and watch millions in the RDA's accounts be swallowed by Sacramento.

The city won't make any decisions on Friday, Brady said.

Those aspects of the laws are also being challenged, with cities across California awaiting the Supreme Court's decision.

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