SACRAMENTO — A bill passed by the Legislature and sent to the governor last week would allow the Lawndale City Council to use a financing tool reserved for redevelopment agencies without setting up a redevelopment zone.
The measure would permit the council, acting as the city Housing Authority, to use property taxes from a senior-citizen housing development to subsidize rents for the 90 low- and moderate-income apartments.
Lawndale officials have said that they asked the bill's author, Assemblyman Frank Vicencia (D-Bellflower), to avoid using the word redevelopment in the legislation to forestall controversy.
"We never did call it redevelopment because in some of those cities down there redevelopment is a dirty word," said Chet Olsen, Vicencia's legislative aide. "This bill assigns to the Housing Authority redevelopment powers."
The Assembly passed the bill 52-25, and concurred with a Senate amendment limiting the measure's scope to the apartment project.
It was sent to Gov. George Deukmejian on Wednesday. The governor has not indicated whether he will sign or veto it, Olsen said.
Lawndale Mayor Sarann Kruse said last week she also does not know whether the governor will sign the bill. "I'm just hoping it happens now," she said.
Forced by Opposition
Kruse said the city was forced to take the unusual approach to the project because of previous opposition to redevelopment.
But, she said, "redevelopment is there to help a city overcome some problem areas. . . . It gives you that mechanism to revitalize that area."
The state Department of Finance and the County Supervisors Assn. have opposed the bill, saying that tax dollars that would have gone to county government when the land was developed would instead be spent as rent subsidies.
Under the Lawndale plan, the city would buy vacant state-owned land next to the San Diego Freeway for $670,000, sell it to a private apartment developer for the same price and relax height and density regulations for the project.
The apartment construction would substantially increase the assessed value of the property and the taxes from it.
That tax increase--expected to be $25,000 to $30,000 a year--would be used to pay part of the rent on the senior-citizen apartments.