(December 21, 2004) -- Instead of a showdown City Council vote on whether to name itself LB's governing Redevelopment Agency, Councilmembers voted 9-0 to approve a motion by Vice Mayor Jackie Kell -- made within seconds of the start of the hearing -- to continue the proceeding (defer action) until an "independent study" of Redevelopment is completed in late May '05.
Following minor amendments, the Council agreed to have the "independent study" of Redevelopment presented at a joint study session with the incumbent Redevelopment Agency Board and City Council on June 7, 2005...and rescheduled the Council hearing -- when a vote could be taken -- for June 14, 2005. Study sessions may also be held in the interim period.
Councilmembers Tonia Reyes Uranga and Dan Baker both indicated that they were prepared to vote immediately to support replacing LB's current non-elected RDA Board with the City Council...but agreed to the postponement.
Councilwoman Reyes Uranga said she would cast her vote to delay reluctantly and believed that most on the Council already had their minds made up.
9th district Councilman Val Lerch declared, "I hate Redevelopment. I hate Redevelopment. For two and a half years, I have fought the RDA battle. My energies, my efforts that I should have been concentrating on the 9th district have been fighting RDA in one form or another. It has divided this Council, and that pains my heart...Tonia, I would go with you and do away with RDA in this city altogether." [cheers].
"Is that a motion?" Councilwoman Reyes Uranga asked, half jokingly. Councilman Lerch did not make the motion, saying that he respected the process and the Council had promised the public an independent study which should be completed before action is taken.
Councilwoman Reyes Uranga asked that hybrid options for governing RDA be included in the independent study. Community Development staff said the Councilmember's request would be conveyed to the RDA board as a recommendation for inclusion in the independent study.
Public testimony was taken -- in both English and Spanish for nearly 90 minutes. Spanish translation, which Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga said she'd requested in advance, somehow didn't arrive...so City Clerk Larry Herrera and Lisette Covarrubias on Councilmember Lowenthal's staff were pressed into service.
Several Spanish-language members of the public supported having a Council-run RDA, expressing concern that the current non-elected Redevelopment Agency board would take their homes and force them to relocate.
Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal indicated that she plans sponsor a January 24 informational meeting on housing-related issues, saying she believes there is currently a lot of confusion and fear in the community.
Veteran LB area activist Joan Greenwood (explicitly expressing her personal opinion not on behalf of any organization) said she supports having the City Council declare itself the RDA board, saying she'd found Councilmembers more accessible than the non-elected RDA board and there was no accountability under the current system.
Activists Diana Lejins, Alan Tolkoff, Laurie Angel, Gabrielle Weeks, Coby Skye, Michael Jackson and Don Darnauer supported deferring action until completion of the independent study. So did LB activist Bry Myown...but added that before the Council votes on the matter, it should demonstrate to the public why the Council would do a better job governing LB Redevelopment than the current RDA Board.