By Brittany Hanson, Jim Tortolano and Jacob Wilson/Garden Grove Journal
In Garden Grove, the most serious impacts will take years to be felt, according to the city manager. In Stanton and Westminster, however, the effects are immediate and perhaps damaging.
The state supreme court has upheld a state law ending traditional redevelopment agencies, which are intended to combat blight and encourage development, but struck down another which established a “voluntary” alternative for cities.
While it’s possible that state legislators will reinstate something similar, for the time being the agencies are gone, or soon will be. “We do have to follow the steps and shut down the agency,” said Matt Fertal, Garden Grove city manager. But that doesn’t mean that redevelopment projects will come to a grinding halt.
The law and rulings allow for city’s to finish up with “existing obligations.”
“We have existing obligations that will last for years,” said Fertal. He feels the change in the law won’t stop the city’s plans to bring a water park hotel to Harbor Boulevard, as well as expansion of the Embassy Suites hotel and another major hotel development south of the Target store which could include three hotels, including up of “approximately” 19 stories.
In Stanton, the outlook is grimmer. An end to redevelopment “could eliminate $10 million in employee salaries, which eliminates graffiti removal, city maintenance, parks and the Tina-Pacific rebuilding project to start,” according to City Manager Carol Jacobs.
Specifically affected are plans for the 12-acre city park slated to be opened this year, and the rebuilding of the high-crime Tina-Pacific area.
“That neighborhood, the most crime-ridden in the city, was going to be rebuilt as a positive and model residential area for the people. Now, it’s going to be worse because the project can’t even be finished,” said David Shawver, mayor pro tem. “There are empty lots collecting trash, waiting to be build on.”
In Westminster, where redevelopment funds were used to repair roads and build a new police station, the end of the program was called “a significant blow.” Especially hard-hit is the city’s housing division, according to Tami Piscotty, the city’s housing coordinator.
It means $20 million in lost funds, and that 36 local contractors had to be notified that 50 to 75 approved housing projects couldn’t go forward. Plans for a 43-unit low income housing plan are also being scuttled, as well as its mobile home grant program, which gave grants of up to $10,000 to owners to maintain their properties. It had a 300-person waiting list.
“It’s certainly a sad day for people who live in mobile homes,” Piscotty said.
Also shut down is the city’s WIN (Westminster Improving Neighborhoods) program to help low-income families maintain their homes with grants of up to $25,000.