City wants to expand boundaries

By C.J. Barbre

The challenger for a Lindsay City Council seat, Robert Segeda, asked in an interview published in last week's Gazette, "What's happening to the four corners [of Lindsay compared to all the restructuring activity downtown]."

Before the paper even hit the street, at the Tuesday, Aug. 24 Lindsay Redevelopment Agency meeting, Redevelopment Agency Fiscal Officer Kenny Walker had the answer - expansion.

The redevelopment agency is proposing to amend the Redevelopment Plan, to add additional territory, another 263 acres or nearly a third again as large, to the project which currently consists of approximately 600 acres. A Redevelopment Area was created in Lindsay in 1987. It was amended in 1995. This will be the third amendment to the Redevelopment Project. The "added territory" or annexation includes nine planning subareas, three of which are within unincorporated Tulare County.

Walker introduced Jon Huffman, executive vice president of Urban Futures Inc. located in Orange, Calif. Urban Futures Incorporated was formed in 1972. According to one paragraph on their website at www.urbanfuturesinc.com, "UFI has provided financial consulting services to cities, redevelopment agencies, counties, special districts, and private sector clients. Over the last decade, UFI has served as financial advisor for more than three billion dollars worth of tax exempt securities. UFI has provided bond administration services on over 300 single and multifamily bond issues and tax credit projects. UFI also provides compliance monitoring on Mortgage Credit Certificate programs, Mortgage Assistance (2nd trust deeds), and Fee Assistance programs."

They had a list of approximately 200 clients from Adelanto to Yucaipa, including Lindsay and the Lindsay Redevelopment Agency with connecting links to their websites.

A pamphlet prepared by the Lindsay Redevelopment Agency in 1995 explained how the agency receives tax dollars. "When the Redevelopment Plan Project Plan is adopted, the current assessed values within the Project Area are designated as the 'base value.' This includes the assessed value of all land and improvements within the boundaries of the Project Area. The taxes resulting from any increase in assessed value over the base value within the Project Area, per the standard tax rate, become a source of revenue for the Agency. By Law the Agency must use the money to alleviate blighted conditions; the money is not used for general purpose government."

UFI submitted a list of 25 tasks it would undertake to have these areas annexed such as, Task 7: Prepare eminent domain and Project Area Committee (PAC) policy determinations; Task 14: Conduct consultations with affected taxing entities as required; or Task 21: Prepare official public hearing record.

URI will prepare for and attend 12 meetings in Lindsay including two property owner outreach meetings or public workshops and two County Board of Supervisors meetings. Their fee over 12 months is fixed at $98,750, not including tasks identified as time and materials, special studies completed by other firms that may be commissioned by the Agency, or mail house contract services. Nor does it include bilingual presentations which are available for an additional fee.

Walker said the fee was being split over two fiscal years and was already budgeted in at $50,000 for this year and next.

Huffman said there are 750 redevelopment agencies in California, that there were far fewer cities without redevelopment agencies than with at this time.

According to the League of California Cities as of July 2003, there were 478 incorporated cities, 107 chartered cities and 371 general law cities in California.

"You can consider if you want to use eminent domain, or strike it out completely, or not have authority to take residential property. On the other hand, when you have a project and nine people willing to sell, and one holdout - at fair market value - the county has that authority, Caltrans has that authority and the school district has that authority . . ." Huffman warned that if eminent domain was an issue at this time, it would be in the future.

Walker said the Redevelopment Agency has always had the authority to use eminent domain or inverse condemnation. "That's not something the city does," he said.

Vice Chairman Pam Kimball asked what would happen if the county was not in favor of losing land to the city.

Walker said there would be some type of reduction in scope and then they would renegotiate the agreement.

Huffman said the city needed to get an ordinance in place as soon as possible and present it to the county supervisors.

"Right now the areas are blighted." Walker said he believed the county would go along with annexation because the city would then be responsible for repairing wate and sewer which the county could not afford to do at this time.

Board member Esteban Velasquez said, "We talked about sprawl and having a greenbelt."

"Are all of these areas except City Park residential or potentially residential?" Kimball asked.

"Yes," said Chairman Ed Murray.

Board member John Stava said, "We need to start right away and need to have caution. It's a very powerful process. It could be misused."

Once enacted, redevelopment areas stay in play for 30 years.

LRA Resolution 04-06, approving a request to begin the process of amending the Lindsay Redevelopment Agency boundaries and accepting a proposal submitted by Urban Futures, Inc. for the provision of services passed unanimously.

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