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    Central Redevelopment Project Area Committee Says No To Redevelopment Area Merger, Yes To Independent Study...And No To Mayor's Request for Add'l RDA Board Nominees

    (August 8, 2003) -- The LB Central Redevelopment Project Area Committee (C-PAC) has voted at its August 7 meeting not to support a merger of redevelopment project areas at the present time and to support conducting an independent and impartial study of the merger and "best practices" for redevelopment.

    And in a defiant action charting a possible collision course with the Mayor and some Councilmembers, C-PAC voted not to reconsider its two nominees (Don Darnauer and Alan Burks, the latter elected C-PAC chair last month) previously sent to the Mayor for a pivotal appointment to the Redevelopment Agency Board. A substitute motion by C-PAC vice chair Lewis Lester to send the Mayor four nominees was defeated.

    The RDA board appointee has become a major issue with a high stakes, city management-sought merger of all Redevelopment project areas now pending. The merger is opposed by C-PAC's recently elected Vice Chair Lewis Lester, who has launched a campaign against the merger in his individual (not C-PAC) capacity.

    Meanwhile, a 6th district candidate has announced she will seek to unseat incumbent Councilwoman Laura Richardson. Ms. Regina Chaney has filed paperwork indicating she'll be a candidate for Council in 2004. Ms. Chaney opposes the merger. Councilwoman Richardson supports it.

    In an 8-1 vote on July 22 (Richardson dissenting), the Council declined to change city law to give Mayor O'Neill retroactive power to fill the RDA board slot from among four nominees. Rebuffed in that attempt, Mayor O'Neill said in an August 1 letter that she hoped C-PAC would resubmit their recommendations (of Messrs. Burks and Darnauer) and possibly provide more than two (2) names for consideration as the C-PAC representative on the RDA." C-PAC declined to submit more than its previously submitted two names.

    What happens next is conjecture. The Mayor could send the Council the name of Mr. Burks or Mr. Darnauer for confirmation to the RDA Board seat (which she previously declined to do). Or she could choose a nominee from among names submitted by the north or west PACs (which she also previously declined to do). Or she could do something we haven't thought of.

    One thing is certain: the City Council, not the Mayor, has the last word...since it must approve a Mayoral RDA board appointment by a Council majority vote.

    In June, the Mayor triggered a divisive Council battle by seeking retroactive power to fill the RDA board seat from among four nominees sent to her by each PAC. The Mayor insisted she was motivated by diversity, but other Councilmembers have indicated they view the issue in terms of the merger, money and citywide vs. area decisionmaking.

    Meanwhile, the Long Beach City Attorney's office has stated in a memo to the Mayor and City Council that it continues to be of the opinion that newly elected C-PAC chair Alan Burks "is qualified to serve as a residential owner-occupant member of the Central Redevelopment Project Area Committee."

    In an August 6 memo, Assistant City Attorney Heather Mahood notes that Mr. Burks holds possession of his residence within the Central Project Area by virtue of an Installment Purchase Contract, which the City Attorney's office ruled in April 1993 was sufficient "ownership" to qualify as a residential owner-occupant.

    As previosly reported by, the City Attorney's opinion on the subject was sought by C-PAC Vice Chair Lewis Lester. Asked for reaction to the City Attorney's memo, Mr. Lester told that he is satisfied that the City Attorney's office had addressed the matter in response to his request. Mr. Lester said he looks forward to working with Mr. Burks.

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