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Frittering Away Taxpayers' Millions

May 16, 1993

* Regarding the article "Some Frown as City Puts on New Face" (May 10) on Huntington Beach downtown redevelopment: You left out the price tag! Everyone likes shiny new stuff, but what did it cost? Let me tell you--$140 million. Where did some of the money go?

We relocated 100-plus mobile-home owners to Central Park. Price tag: $5 million for the coaches alone (no bids). We purchased the adjacent mushroom farm for $4.5 million to relocate displaced mobile-home owners and then found out it was contaminated with methane. Estimated cost to move the remaining Driftwood mobile-home owners: $17 million.

The second street parking structure cost the taxpayers $18 million. The county has it appraised at $12 million, but the revenue stream indicates you couldn't sell it for more than $4 million.

Now under construction is Pierside Phase II. The taxpayer is subsidizing the less-than-market-rate financing, subsidizing the rent, and subsidizing all parking.

The city refinanced City Hall for $34 million to act as the seed money for this high stakes poker game. The taxpayer pays that back every day, but the redevelopment agency pays back only 12% of what it should be paying to eliminate its debt.

Losses aren't limited to the taxpayer in Huntington Beach. Throughout the city, redevelopment has left a legacy of Resolution Trust holdings and bankruptcy filings. We contributed our fair share to the banking crisis of the last decade.

This is the litany left by the "pro-business" City Council of the 1980s. Did we get value for our tax dollar? I think not. It's time for someone to stand up and say, "The king is naked."

DEBBIE COOK

Huntington Beach

Debbie Cook is a Huntington Beach planning commissioner.

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