(March 8, 2004) -- At its March 8 meeting, LB's Redevelopment Agency governing board has approved selection criteria for a consultant on a study of Redevelopment in LB.
With minor changes, Boardmembers voted 7-0 to approve the staff-drafted selection criteria, which will accompany the Scope of Work in a Request for Proposals approved by the Board on Feb. 19.
Redevelopment activists Lewis Lester, Dan Berns and Jane Kelleher strongly urged including an audit in the study, echoing testimony by Mr. Lester and Ms. Kelleher on Feb. 19. Boardmembers did not acknowledge or respond to the public testimony prior to casting their unanimous vote which clears the way to issue the RFP and proceed with the study process.
Prior to public comment, Boardmember Bill Baker suggested that studying the 1980's Downtown Plaza project would not be advisable on grounds since it might consume considerable time and might rely on incomplete records. Boardmember Burks, backed by chair Jane Netherton, said it was important to study the decision-tree for the defunct Downtown Plaza project (torn down to make way for CityPlace) to prevent future underperforming projects. The result was that a case study of the Downtown Plaza will remain part of the scope of work.
Boardmembers compromised on another suggestion by Boardmember Baker, agreeing to remove from the draft selection criteria verbiage that would have included "a local presence for interfacing with the [Redevelopment] Agency" but retaining the criterion for "Knowledge and understanding of the local environment."
Public comment followed.
Mr. Lester, who heads "Citizens Against Redevelopment Merger and Expansion" (a group he launched last year) read from a letter to the Board which referred to the study as "a so-called 'independent study'"...and urged that the study's oversight and management be the responsibility of the City Auditor.
Mr. Lester asked why a March 8 memo to the RDA Board from Community Development Director Melanie Fallon indicated that LB's City Manager has final approval...when the Redevelopment Agency isn't a city agency (it's an independent government body although in LB it's staffed by many City Hall employees and management.)
"Although the [Redevelopment] Agency Board is already off to a poor start, you have an opportunity to make some important course corrections today," Mr. Lester told the Board.
Mr. Lester also advocated inclusion of a conflict of interest provision, stating that those responding to the RFP "not have any personal or business interests that would present an actual potential or apparent conflict of interest with performance of this contract, and the contractor will not reasonably create an appearance of impropriety."
The provision also proposed that any respondent employed or retained by the RDA or LB City Hall during the past five years preceding its proposal would be required to disclose the nature of its previous contracts or employments with the RDA and the City, including annual rate of compensation.
No Board member said anything in response to Mr. Lester's proposal, and none made a motion to include his proposed conflict of interest provisions.
Westside business owner Dan Berns told the Board, "I don't even ask you this morning to define "audit,"...but I think...that word is extremely important to be in there..."
Ms. Kelleher, owner of Sav-On-Signs on East Anaheim St. and a member of the West Project Area Committee (speaking individually) said, "An independent study to be complete needs to include numbers, finances, accountability and accounting. We need an audit. If it's not included in the study, I won't support it because it'll be incomplete."
Other speakers, including Don Darnauer and Linda Ivers addressed other aspects of the selection criteria.
Following public comment, no Boardmember moved to include an audit. The Board vote was 7-0 to approve the staff-drafted selection criteria (with the small changes indicated above.)
Following the vote, Mr. Berns told LBReport.com: