Opinion

Frye: City Property Transfer May Not Make the Cut

Frye: City Property Transfer May Not Make the Cut

In the aftermath of Gov. Jerry Brown’s January 2011 announced decision to eliminate redevelopment agencies, someone at the city apparently decided to counter that by quickly transferring legal title of a long list of redevelopment agency properties to the city of San Diego.

I guess the thinking was, when the legislation later occurred, there would be a lot less redevelopment agency-owned property left because the city had cleverly moved it.

So, on Monday, March 14, 2011, at an off-site evening meeting, the City Council was scheduled to a vote on a property sweep under a late added item (Item S400) on a supplemental agenda.

["Property Transfer from Redevelopment Agency of San Diego to the City of San Diego. (Barrio Logan, City Heights, College Community, College Grove, Crossroads, Grantville, Linda Vista, Naval Training Center, North Bay, North Park, San Ysidro, Central Imperial, Gateway Center West, Mount Hope, Southcrest and Centre City Community Areas. Districts 2, 3, 4, and 6.)"]

Instead of voting on S400, there was a motion to continue the item for one week to March 22, 2011, and that passed.

However, something must have happened between the end of the council meeting Monday night and the very next morning, because on Tuesday, March 15, the city council, under Non-Agenda Council Action, voted instead to: 1) suspend its own Permanent Rules; 2) reconsider the Monday vote on the property transfer from the redevelopment agency to the city ( item S400); and 3) vote on it immediately. The vote on S400 passed 6 to 2.

The state lawmakers supported the governor’s January 2011 decision to dissolve the redevelopment agency by passing legislation, and that legislation was upheld by the California Supreme Court in December 2011. In other words, it looks like the city’s hurry-up transfers of redevelopment agency properties occurred after the date when such transfers would have at least an arguable chance of being allowed.

And not surprisingly, it seems that at least one state official is taking a dim view of the whole thing.

On March 15, 2012, California State Controller John Chiang sent a letter to County Auditor-Controllers to let them know he was reviewing “the activities of redevelopment agencies in the state to determine whether an asset transfer has occurred after January 1, 2011, between the city or county, or city and county that created a redevelopment agency or any other public agency, and the redevelopment agency.”

Then, on April 20, 2012, Chiang sent an “Order to Reverse RDA Asset Transfer Pursuant to Health and Safety Code Section 34167.5″ to all cities, counties and public agencies.

Simply put, Chiang warned the cities, counties and public agencies about the impropriety of any actions they may have taken after January 1, 2011, to transfer redevelopment agency assets, and advised them to “immediately reverse the transfer” (third party developer contracts exempt).

I don’t know if the city’s actions will pass muster with Controller Chiang, but I do continue to wonder.

Donna Frye is a former San Diego City Councilwoman.


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