By Lynne Bronstein
Culver City has a long list of projects slated for development, a list that began while the Redevelopment Agency still existed. Since the dissolution of California’s redevelopment agencies two years ago, these projects have been stalled.
But due to recent actions by the California Department of Finance (DOF) and subsequent action by the City Council, some of the vacant lots waiting for building to commence will not have to wait much longer.
In February of this year, then-Mayor Andrew Weissman and Community Development director Sol Blumenfeld met with state officials in Sacramento and returned to report that the Department of Finance had reversed its position on funding for the Globe Avenue development.
Last month another meeting was held with Weissman, Blumenfeld, State Senator Holly Mitchell, and Department of Finance staff. Their discussion, and the ability of Culver City to document its use of cash and cash equivalents, led to another revision of the DOF’s assessment of the city’s finances.
At this point, it appears that the city will have over two million with which to finance several delayed projects, including, but not limited to, Parcel B (the multi-purpose project in downtown Culver City), the Washington-National Transit-Oriented Development project, and the market hall planned for the intersection of Washington and Centinela.
The process of recovering funding for development projects began shortly after the Redevelopment Agency was replaced by the “Successor Agency” in early 2012.
Culver City, like all the successor agencies, was required to conduct a due diligence review (DDR) to determine the unobligated balances available for transfer to taxing entities. The amount of cash available for allocation was to be calculated by determining the total value of assets, and then subtracting the restricted funds, assets that were not cash or equivalents, amounts that were legally or contractually dedicated or restricted for the funding of an enforceable obligation, and amounts that were needed to satisfy obligations that would be put on the Recognized Obligation Payment Schedule ("ROPS") for the current fiscal year.
Culver City employed the licensed audit firm of Macias, Gini, and O’Connell LLC to conduct a review in preparation for the DDR.
After the initial DDR’s approval by the Oversight Board in October 2012, and after a second DDR dealing with “other funds and accounts” was approved, the latter was submitted to the Department of Finance in April 2013.
The DOF’s financial adjustment of the funds did not meet with Successor Agency approval. Meetings were held in Sacramento in April and more recently, as noted above, in November. As a result of the discussions and documentation of the use of cash and cash equivalents, the DOF sent a revised final determination letter to the Successor Agency on December 3.
According to this letter, the balance to be distributed to the taxing entitites has been reduced to $2,724,618. Culver City officials would like to see further reductions but such decisions are up to the DOF.
On December 9 the City Council approved a budget amendment which transferred $1,462,118 from the city’s general fund to the Successor Agency; a transfer of $1,262,500 from the Housing Authority to the Successor Agency; and an amount of $2,724,618 from the Successor Agency to the Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller. This last action will satisfy the requirements of the Other Funds and Accounts Due Diligence Review and will make it possible for the review to receive a finding of completion from the DOF.
“Despite this welcome breakthrough, there is still much work to be done and process to be completed,” said City Manager John Nachbar. “There will undoubtedly be further complications requiring effort and resolution. However, given the City Council’s guidance, determination and support, we will see these matters through to completion.”