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County Lets S. Pasadena Off Hook : Won't Ask Refund of Civic Center Redevelopment Money

April 14, 1985|ALAN MALTUN | Times Staff Writer

SOUTH PASADENA — The city broke an agreement with the county when it spent $1.1 million in redevelopment-generated revenues on a new civic center site in 1981, but no penalty will be imposed because the violation was unintentional, a county report has concluded.

The county could have demanded a refund of all or part of the money, but will not seek financial sanctions because the violation stemmed from a misunderstanding rather than an intent to circumvent the pact, said Dan Farkas, an administrative analyst. Farkas helped prepare the report for the county chief administrative officer after a monthlong investigation.

City Manager John Bernardi said he is happy with the chief administrative officer's findings. "This clarifies it once and for all," he said.

Committee Sought Inquiry

The investigation was requested last October by the Committee for Responsive Government, a citizen group opposed to the proposed civic center. The committee also instigated a county counsel's inquiry into the land deal, alleging that the city had overpaid for the property, but the county counsel found no improprieties in the transaction.

The controversy hinged on the city's use of taxes generated by the Monterey Hills Redevelopment Project to buy two parcels on Meridian Avenue for a new civic center site. The city's agreement with the county allowed it to use the extra property tax generated by development of the Monterey Hills project to build new public facilities. The city believed that the proposed complex, although not specified in the arrangement, was covered under that general provision.

The chief administrative officer's report concluded that the city and its redevelopment agency should have asked the Board of Supervisors to amend the agreement because the project was proposed for a different location from the existing City Hall. The report said that the land acquisition violated "the letter of the agreement."

In November, voters rejected the Meridian civic center project, opting to have the city refurbish the old City Hall on Mission Street and build a new fire and police station adjacent to it at Mission and Mound Avenue.

The chief administrative officer's report, however, found that that project also will require a change in the agreement because the location of the proposed police and fire station is slightly different from that of the existing facility.

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