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    Showdown Deferred: Council On Motion By Richardson Votes 5-3 To Defer Action On Redevelopment Merger or Expansion Until After 6 Mo. Independent Study; Foes of Merger And Expansion Continue To Oppose Plan

    (October 23, 2003) -- In a surprise move that temporarily avoids a showdown vote on a controversial proposal to merge and expand LB's Redevelopment Project Areas, 6th district Councilwoman Laura Richardson proposed that the City Council defer action on study of redevelopment project area merger or expansion until after completion of an independent study within six months.

    Under Councilwoman Richardson's proposal -- detailed in a memo released publicly at 10 p.m. during the Oct. 21 Council meeting -- a steering committee composed of several Project Area Committee members, RDA board members and city staff would be created to overse preparation of an independent study of Redevelopment to be completed within six months. posts Councilwoman Richardson's memo verbatim in pdf form on a link below.

    Councilwoman Richardson's proposal was enacted after contentious public comment on a sharply divided 5-3 Council vote (Uranga, Webb & Lerch dissenting, Baker absent). Her accompanying memo asked the RDA to proceed with preparing an independent study that includes but is not limited to evaluating past LB RDA practices and programs, documenting best practices of redevelopment agencies elsewhere...and answering four questions regarding the merger proposal and project area expansion:

    (1) Is merger desirable? (2) What would be the impact of a merger on LB? (3) If the project areas were merged, what would be a fair and equitable method of distributing RDA resources? and (4) Are there other neighborhoods that would benefit from redevelopment?

    Councilwoman Richardson's memo adds, "The creation of an Independent Study should be done in a way that builds trust."

    Mr. Lewis Lester, elected Vice Chair of the Central Project Area Committee in July and separately heading Citizens Against Merger and Expansion to oppose the merger and expansion proposals, criticized Councilman Richardson's proposal, saying Project Area Committees and members of the community had been seeking a study of redevelopment, not merger or expansion.

    Other speakers -- as well as 7th district Councilwoman Reyes-Uranga -- criticized public release of the detailed proposal and memo after 10 p.m.

    Councilwoman Richardson's proposal to defer the issue for six months would (if the schedule is maintained) complete the study just before the April 2004 City Council elections.

    As separately reported by, on October 22, Mr. Lester announced formation of an exploratory committee to weigh a run for the 6th district Council seat now held by Richardson. Two other 6th district residents, Regina Chaney and Dee Andrews have previously indicated their interest in seeking the office.

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