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CRA Gets Extended Power to Develop

May 21, 2003|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday gave the Community Redevelopment Agency an extension of powers to remake Hollywood, despite opposition from several residents who charged that the city has squandered public money and is forcing mom-and-pop businesses to sell out to wealthy developers.

The CRA's power of eminent domain expired in 1998, but the council reinstated it for another 12 years on Tuesday. The extension allows the agency to force nonresidential property owners to sell to make way for new construction.

The council acted based on an agency report that the 1,100-acre Hollywood Redevelopment Project Area remains significantly blighted after 17 years of agency work at a cost of $220 million.

"This is important because in poor areas you couldn't get people to invest without this" assistance, said Councilman Eric Garcetti, who represents much of Hollywood. "This will continue the progress in the area."

State law allows redevelopment agencies to take property tax revenue generated by rising property values in a targeted area for use in providing financial incentives to developers who build there, including the purchase of land for residential and commercial construction.

But half a dozen Hollywood residents and business owners told the council Tuesday that the redevelopment agency has made things worse in Hollywood, while giving wealthy developers property tax dollars that would be better used to improve basic city services.

"Until you say no to the CRA, we will not be able to fund more police, more fire[fighters]," said Chris Shabel, a Hollywood businesswoman. "You have to take the open-ended credit card away from CRA."

Resident John Walsh told the council that crime and blight are worse since the CRA got involved.

"Hollywood has been de-developed by the CRA," Walsh said.

The mere threat of eminent domain creates uncertainty for existing businesses and could delay expansion or renovation projects, according to Robert Blue, whose family has run Bernard Luggage Co. on Vine Street for decades.

He objected to using redevelopment powers against small businesses. "This will be used by our government as a reverse Robin Hood, forcing small businesses to sell their property and move out and transfer it to wealthy private developers," Blue said.

The Hollywood Redevelopment Project Area, which the City Council created in May 1986, includes an area generally bounded by La Brea Avenue on the west; Serrano Avenue on the east; Franklin Avenue, the Hollywood Freeway and Hollywood Boulevard on the north; and Fountain Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard on the south.

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