April 30, 1994 - From the April, 1994 issue

Inside Planning: Around the City and the Region

Northridge earthquake recovery, L.A. underground oil pipeline, and more — TPR presents recent land use news in the Los Angeles region and beyond.


The California Tax Credit Allocation Committee (TCAC), located in the Treasurer's Office, administers the state's low-income housing tax credit program. Gov. Wilson's budget proposes to transfer TCAC to the California Housing Finance Agency (CHFA), and to transfer development fees paid by program users to the General Fund to help balance the budget.

In calendar years 1992 and 1993, TCAC approved funding for 8,528 and 9,000 housing units, respectively, all of which are available to those at or below 60% of median income. The proposed TCAC move is opposed by housing advocates who fear that the CHFA has not demonstrated a desire to serve low-income households. The Governor must secure legislation to effectuate his proposed transfer of TCAC. State Senator Maddy has introduced the Governor's proposal in SB 1912. Complicating the picture, TCAC's authorization to issue tax credits sunsets at the end of this year. AB 3651 (Hauser) will extend the sunset and make other technical changes in the program. 


The charitable institution World Vision U.S. has announced plans to sell its 11 buildings in the San Gabriel Valley and move 525 employees to Seattle next year. Blaming too much government regulation, higher insurance premiums and salaries, President Robert A. Seiple said the move can save the charity $5 million a year. Meanwhile, rumors continue to fly that Thrifty Drug Stores will move its Mid-Wilshire headquarters to Oregon when the merger of the Thrifty and Payless chains is finalized, further devastating the struggling Mid-Wilshire area. There are more than 600 employees at the Thrifty headquarters.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority has announced plans to eliminate 250 jobs in coming months and scale back some capital projects to balance its $3.4 billion budget. 


After a four-year lag, the region's construction industry is beginning to see a slight upturn in the wake of the Northridge earthquake, although the California economy remains in a recession, according to a survey by the Federal Reserve. Los Angeles economists said money flowing into the region from insurance proceeds and government loans is providing a stimulus to the economy. According to Jack Kyser, chief economist of the Economic Development Corp. of Los Angeles County, every $1 million in new construction creates eight new construction industry jobs and 15 indirect jobs. The Southland economy continues to be hurt by the troubled aerospace industry, while home sales are only slightly higher from a year earlier. 


General Motors Corp. has announced that they are considering an option by the city of Los Angeles to purchase the firm's 100-acre Van Nuys assembly plant. Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcón is looking to rebuild the employment base in the Van Nuys district which in recent years has seen the loss of the GM plant, the Stroh's brewery and a number of significant industrial tenants. The GM plant closed in August 1992 after 45 years of car production there. 

Councilman Alarcón said it is unlikely that the city would actually buy the property. Rather, the city would set up a nonprofit organization to purchase the facility which would then sell it to a third party for the price that it paid, likely to be well below its estimated value of $50 million. GM would get a tax break by selling the property to a public entity and a third party buyer would get it at a discounted price. 


A proposal to turn surplus Navy housing in San Pedro into housing for the homeless has raised the ire of the seaside community. With the closure of the naval station last September, the Navy announced it was vacating a portion of its San Pedro housing units - 144 units on a 27-acre site where enlisted sailors and their families lived. In response to the closure, a group called Turner's Technical Institute announced plans to use the housing to shelter and educate up to 600 homeless people. The technical institute is basing its claim to the housing on the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987. According to the law, the Department or Defense must give homeless-assistance organizations priority to use closed military bases. The institute's application has already been approved by the Department of Health and Human Services, effectively excluding further community opposition. 


Offshore oil producers have signed a memorandum of understanding to build a 130-mile pipeline through the quake-ravaged San Fernando Valley to transport their crude to refineries. The $150 million project would provide the last link in a pipeline system between the offshore Point Arguello oil fields near Santa Barbara and Los Angeles-area refineries. The pipeline is a project of Chevron USA Products Co., Texaco Trading and Transportation, Inc. and Anschutz Co., the main equity owner. 


Under a memorandum of understanding between major oil producers, the pipeline would carry up to 100,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Bakersfield in Kern County to local refineries, including a Chevron refinery in El Segundo and a Texaco plant in Wilmington. The proposed route replaces an earlier coastal route that was opposed by the Los Angeles City Council and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


In response to questions which have arisen concerning AB 1290, last year's redevelopment reform law, Senator Marion Bergerson, chairperson of the Senate Local Government Committee, has amended SB 732 to become the vehicle for the 1994 cleanup of AB 1290. The California Redevelopment Association has also sponsored amendments to the reform package. The proposed amendments to SB 1290 contained in SB 732 seek to modify several issues including clarification of lime limits with respect to adding future territory to future project areas, redefining rules for blight and urbanization, plan implementation and tax sharing mechanisms. 

In other redevelopment news, the Paul Gann's Citizens Committee has recently submitted an initiative aimed at limiting public agencies' ability to issue long-term debt "The Taxpayers Consent Act" would require that a local government or special district, defined to include redevelopment agencies, must first receive the approval of two thirds of its electorate before it can issue debt in excess of its annual revenues. If the initiative passes and withstands constitutional challenge, the ability to leverage tax increment and other forms of long-term debt could be greatly restricted. 


A state appeal court has upheld L.A. city's right to restrict the rebuilding of liquor stores destroyed by the 1992 riots, finding that while cities cannot regulate alcoholic beverage sales, they can apply land use laws to minimize harmful impacts. The ruling denied an appeal filed by the Korean American Legal Advocacy Foundation. It was applauded by Council members Mark Ridley-Thomas and Rita Walters.


In other news, several Valley-area legislators have launched an effort called the "Valley Coalition for the Pacoima Mile'' to include that troubled neighborhood in the city of L.A.'s federal Empowerment Zone application. While only 20 square miles can be designated in the zone, 90 square miles of the city qualify for the designation, according to census tract and poverty criteria. Pacoima is the only area in the San Fernando Valley that meets these criteria. The boundaries are to be determined by the Community Economic Development and Housing and Community Redevelopment committees. Legislators involved in the effort include council members Richard Alarcon, Zev Yaroslavsky and Joel Wachs as well as Congressman Howard Berman. 


With the final total of damaged apartments expected to reach as high as 1,400, Santa Monica apartment owners are expecting the city's rent control constituency to see a possible reduction. The coalition for Santa Monicians for Renters Rights usually enjoys a victory margin of just over 6,000 votes, but the loss of rent-controlled apartments in the city could significantly reduce that margin, providing a previously unavailable opportunity to break up the Renters Rights coalition on the City Council. Also, opponents of rent control are arguing that while Santa Monica did indeed shake more intensely that other surrounding areas, rent control regulations kept older frame and stucco buildings from being replaced with more modern, sturdier housing.


Tax payer groups and a local citizens group are challenging a recent land deal between the Santa Monica Conservancy and the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors. Calling the purposed sale of the 257-acre Canyon Oaks site to the Conservancy a "shady backroom deal" , the groups claim that the purchase relies heavily on the passage of Proposition 180, a $2 billion state park bond measure on the June 7 ballot. “Two school bond measures and a $2 billion quake repair bond are already on the ballot and are likely to draw more votes," said Joel Fox or the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. Supporters of the deal said they expect questions being raised by opponents and some members of the county Board of Supervisors will be answered shortly when the board must make a crucial vote freeing $14 million the conservancy needs in Proposition A county park bond money to help finance the deal in the short-term.


A six-year effort to develop a revitalization plan for the Reseda business district has finally been approved by the Los Angeles City Council. The plan which covers an area roughly along Sherman Way between Wilbur and Lindley calls for strict control on development during the next 20years. Highlights of the plan include developing pedestrian-commercial areas along Sherman Way and Reseda Boulevard by developing a mixture of commercial and retail businesses, residential areas would be protected with height limits on adjacent commercial areas as well as limits on the number of signs, auto repair shops and mini-malls. “This is the final step in a long planning process, but more important, it's the first step of bringing about true economic revitalization of Reseda,” said Councilwoman Laura Chick, who represents the area.


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