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Council could avoid sending Sacramento money

If debt list of the disbanded RDA is approved, it could secure millions in property tax revenue for Costa Mesa.

February 20, 2012|By Joseph Serna

If the City Council approves a disbanded city agency's list of debt Tuesday, the act could secure millions for Costa Mesa before state lawmakers funnel that money to Sacramento.

The council is slated to approve the Redevelopment Agency's $27 million worth of debt, with the city's original loan to the agency taking up the biggest chunk at $19.5 million.

The RDA also has more than $4.8 million in nonhousing project bonds, $1.3 million in housing project loans and assistance, and $525,000 in Davis Field work in the pipeline.

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The thinking goes that as long as the state's seven-member oversight board for RDA loans approves Costa Mesa's list of financial obligations, the city can keep some of its future property tax revenues until its debts are paid off.

When the state Supreme Court in December upheld legislation that dissolved RDAs across California, that money was put in jeopardy.

The goal of RDAs was to recycle local property-tax revenue into neighborhoods considered blighted. Facing a massive state budget shortfall, Sacramento lawmakers approved dissolving the RDAs altogether, thus paving the way for an injection of tax money from cities across California.

The state's RDAs circulate about $5 billion in revenue back into local hands, with about $1 billion of that going toward affordable housing.

Without the debt schedule, millions could be lost for the city and housing money would have to fight for priority alongside other long-term city projects.

Tuesday's passage would just be the latest hoop the city has had to jump through since December. Last month, Costa Mesa had to create a successor agency to handle the RDA's responsibilities while the RDA winds down.

Still, Costa Mesa doesn't find itself in as bad a position as other Orange County cities. Westminster zoned its entire city as redevelopment and has submitted a $303-million debt schedule.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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