Deadline looms for City of Long Beach to submit plans for former RDA properties

CJ Dablo/Signal Tribune Not all of the properties owned by Long Beach’s former redevelopment agency will be proposed to be sold or further developed. On the southwest corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway, one property will be retained primarily for neighborhood identification and government use, according to Michael Conway, director of the City of Long Beach’s Business and Property Development Department. Formerly the site of an automotive shop, the property now displays a sign for Long Beach Polytechnic High School.

CJ Dablo/Signal Tribune

Not all of the properties owned by Long Beach’s former redevelopment agency will be proposed to be sold or further developed. On the southwest corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway, one property will be retained primarily for neighborhood identification and government use, according to Michael Conway, director of the City of Long Beach’s Business and Property Development Department. Formerly the site of an automotive shop, the property now displays a sign for Long Beach Polytechnic High School.


CJ Dablo
Staff Writer

The City of Long Beach has just a few short weeks to finalize and submit a report detailing a long-range management plan for property that belonged to the City’s former redevelopment agency (RDA).
Since the redevelopment program was dissolved more than a year and a half ago, the future of its large amount of real estate had been managed by two groups: the Oversight Board, and city council members who make up what’s called the Successor Agency.
California’s Department of Finance has set an Oct. 23 deadline for the City to submit a long-range plan that details how to dispose of about 259 properties that belonged to the Long Beach RDA.
When it was first created, Long Beach’s redevelopment agency and hundreds of other agencies like it throughout California had been charged with taking what was considered blighted land and transforming those properties into land uses that benefitted the community.
There will be two key meetings in the upcoming weeks during which Long Beach residents will have a chance to voice their opinion and publicly reject or support the City of Long Beach’s plans for the properties of the former redevelopment agency. The long-range management plan that will be due to the State’s Department of Finance will be discussed at length at the next Successor Agency meeting scheduled on Oct. 1. If the plan is approved by the Successor Agency, it will be forwarded to the Oversight Board for approval at its meeting on Oct. 7.
Michael Conway, the director of the City of Long Beach’s Business and Property Development Department, is a key person who has been working closely with the Successor Agency, the Oversight Board and the other former redevelopment staff to craft the long-range management plan.
In anticipation of these meetings, local residents and community leaders who belonged to an advisory group to the City’s former redevelopment agency gathered Sept. 25 to hear Conway at Roxanne’s Lounge, Bar & Grill.
“I’ve spent a lot of my prior years acquiring these properties for the redevelopment agency,” Conway told the group of about 20 people who had gathered in the lounge area. “So it’s a little odd that I’m now charged with disposing of them.” He said he is familiar with the sites that the City’s redevelopment agency had acquired.
There are about four possibilities for each of the 259 sites. The properties could be slated for government use, kept for future redevelopment, retained to honor an enforceable obligation that existed before the redevelopment agency was dissolved or sold. Conway said that the Department of Finance has stated in the past that the proceeds from property sales will be given to the State, not kept with the City. He added that the City will propose to keep the money for the City.
“We are hopeful we will prevail, but we don’t know,” Conway told the group, adding that the State is already formulating its position. “We’re laying out ours in our plan. We want to keep that money. We want to reinvest it in Long Beach, so we’ll see how that argument goes forth.”
He also explained other parts of the plan that will be considered first by the Successor Agency that may prove controversial for advocates who are hoping that the City won’t settle for a low price on property for sale.
“Other elements of the plan [propose] to allow us to sell the [properties] at less than fair-market value,” Conway said, “so if we want to see a particular use on that property, we will RFP (request for proposal) it for that use. If it is supportable through the strategic plan of that project area, then we will look at a reuse value as opposed to a fair-market value. If there is a development that can’t be supported by fair-reuse value, we will look at land-residual value, which is another less-than-fair-market-value approach to evaluation. So we’re trying to instill some tools in that plan that will allow us instead [to focus] on value and focus on use, which I think everyone wants really to do.”
The details of the potential sale of the various properties raised the ire of a few in the group.
Annie Greenfeld serves as president of the Long Beach Central Project Area Council (CPAC), the nonprofit group that hosted the Wednesday-evening event. The Council had previously acted as an advisory group to the RDA. Greenfeld said she wanted a portion of the money from the property sales invested in the project areas. She said she would not be happy if the money went into the City’s general fund.
“That was never the intention,” Greenfeld said after the meeting. She highlighted the original purpose behind the City’s desire to acquire particular properties. “It was to get rid of blight in the neighborhoods.”
Jack Smith, another board member with CPAC, also wasn’t pleased about how the property could be sold.
“First of all, we’re worried about how much they’re going to sell these properties for,” Smith said in an interview after the meeting. “We’re worried about what kinds of businesses [that] they’re going to let go in there.”
Smith added that there is also potential state legislation that could allow the City to sell the property for any price, regardless of the market value.
“Now, yeah, that gives the City some flexibility, but that means that we can get ripped off,” Smith said. “And we [the people of Long Beach] own those properties. We paid for them. They happen to be former RDA properties now, but we paid for them.”
Beyond whether the City or the State will ultimately lay claim to any proceeds from the sale of the redevelopment properties, there is also one major question that has yet to be answered. When asked how much the City originally paid for these properties, Conway would not offer an estimate.

News
One comment on “Deadline looms for City of Long Beach to submit plans for former RDA properties
  1. SB 470 The Economic and Community Development massacre of public input and community development is now sitting on the Governor’s desk and we hope he will understand how the City of Long Beach has undermined the long time market value approach of property sales in order to now have the ability to short sell properties for quick dollars in formerly blighted areas. AB 470 means a potential property discount incentive for developers so that property does not have to be sold at market value but at a price that is expedient and that will maximize their profits upon purchase. not a bad development deal. It is similar to the “Boss Tweed” days of the 1880′s when everything is up for sale at the discretion of the government and a limited few. This legislation not only strips real estate professionals from what has been common in Real Estate dealings for many, many years (market value) but allows only a scant verbiage for three minutes called public comment when any of this comes before the “Successor Agency A.K.A. The Long Beach City Council. It ids up in the air whether the council will set policy and send the dollars appropriately back to the areas that they cam from.
    SB 470 was not conceived in a vacuum but birthed as another closed door “Back Room” deal that will short change the State and the areas that were formerly declared blighted by the RDA Board. Those dollars that were meant to be spent and improve blighted areas and better the quality of life in North, Central, and West primarily can now be shifted to the General Fund. It will allow the city to move dollars to create “blight wastelands” in areas that need the most help. I am urging everyone to write to the Governor so he will veto this and protect the blighted areas of Long Beach as well as the state.
    Imagine having properties from North Long Beach and Central Long Beach that were cleared of buildings, homes or other assets to have the land sold for less than market value and have all the dollars go to the “General Fund”. Imagine your property value being uncharacteristically lowered and equity lost due to the discount rate and fire sale of land to developers in former RDA areas.
    Just a few days ago LBReport and now the Press Telegram hinted of this possibility although those of us who spent more than 17 years in the Redevelopment trenches are expected to think this is a good process and is beneficial to our area. Now maybe those white vinyl three rail fences may come down? Right… Doubtful!
    So, let’s talk about the process the City of Long Beach used to help orchestrate this plan. First as part of the legislative process three council members hatched the quick sale idea and the DLBA was assisted into be coming a non-profit Community Development Agency as a funnel for economic growth in the downtown. Did any of this translate to Central, North or West Project areas? Absolutely not.. Next they complete the Downtown Plan, as well as renew their Pbid. The third prong is the same legislative agenda is designed and they ask State Senator Rod Wright and Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal to carry this bill forward with no public input and comment after a year plus it is now sitting on the Governor’s desk for signature. Again, no public input regarding the affects or say from any of the former Project Area Committee members. No inter-relationship between the city and those who were elected and represented the community on these committees and finally no collaboration of any kind for enacting the North or Central Strategic Plans where dollars and designs were to be utilized. If you are reading this send your letter to the Governor asking him to veto this mess for something that protects the taxpayer and the blighted areas of Long Beach

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>