March 30, 1998 - From the March, 1998 issue

Inside Planning: Chula Vista Big-Box Subsidy Denied, Torlakson vs Big-Box Subsidies, and more!

Court Denies Walmart Subsidy 

A State Court of Appeal upheld an earlier decision barring Chula Vista's Redevelopment Agency from assisting the development of a Walmart and other commercial facilities on 32 acres of vacant land. The Court found that a 1994 DDA between the Redevelopment Agency, Walmart, and other smaller interests violated the State's 1993 redevelopment reform law, which precluded redevelopment agencies from assisting retail projects that would be built on over­five-acre parcels not previously developed for "urban use." (Wally Bozek et al v. Redevelopment Agency of the City of Chula Vista). 

Pasadena-South Lake Project Approved 

After two-and-a-half years of heated wrangling, the Pasadena City Council voted 4-2 to approve Forest City Development's 153,158 S.F., $32 million entertainment retail project on South Lake Avenue. Insiders say debates over parking, traffic and treatment of the historic Bullock's Pasadena building were exacerbated by the lack of an area Specific Plan, the absence of a City Planning Director, and a lame duck City Manager. Construction could begin as early as this summer.

Transit-Based Housing Moving Forward 

The Cities of L.A. and San Fernando gave final approval to Westfield Village, The Lee Group's planned development of 186 single-family detached homes adjacent to the Sylmar/San Fernando Transit Center, Metrolink station and childcare center. Westfield Village—So. California's largest transit-oriented affordable home ownership project—will be the first western-U.S. equity investment for FannieMae's American Community Fund. Century Housing Corporation will provide construction financing. The project is expected to break ground in July, according to The Lee Group's Director of Development, Jay Stark. 

Torlakson Seeks End to Big-Box Subsidies 

Assemblyman Tom Torlakson (D-Contra Costa) has introduced legislation that would forbid California cities from using public subsidies to lure retailers—particularly big boxes—from other municipalities. The ban's radius remains to be determined, but it will likely fall somewhere between 15 and 35 miles. Torlakson says he is responding to increasing inter-municipal bidding wars for retailers that drain city coffers and waste taxpayer money.

L.A. Cathedral Costs Rising

Projected costs for the planned Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on Bunker Hill are now double the original $50 million estimate, though the Archdiocese says it has already raised enough money to cover the difference. Officials also confirmed that the expected March groundbreaking for the cathedral will be pushed back to a yet-unspecified future date. The delay has been attributed alternately to hold-ups in design work and to the time needed to select an archaeologist and a Native American [Tongva tribe member] to monitor construction on land some believe to have been a Native American [Tongva] burial ground. 

Federal Takings Bill Advances 


The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee approved a companion measure to the House approved HR 1534 (Gallegly), recently renamed "the Citizens Access to Justice Act of 1998." The bill would expedite access to federal courts for takings cases involving actions by federal, state, or local agencies. The California League of Cities strongly opposes the measure, saying it would allow "a project applicant to leverage the threat of federal legal action against the desire of a local agency to negotiate changes in a project." No date has been scheduled for floor action. 

Inglewood's Market Street Gels HUD $$$ 

HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo presented the City of Inglewood late last month with $10 million Section 108 economic development loan and a $500,000 HUD economic development initiative grant. $4 million of the loan proceeds will go to build a parking structure to serve a planned multiplex and retail development on Market Street. The remaining funds will go to small business loans and façade improvements on Market Street, as well as to land acquisition by the redevelopment agency. 

LAUSD Board Asks for State Belmont Audit 

The L.A. Board of Education voted late last month to ask the Joint Legislative Audit Committee to order the State auditor to open an investigation into the Belmont Learning Complex project. The move followed the Board's refusal to disclose certain documents to the committee's Chair, Assemblyman Scott Wildman (D-L.A.), who is currently conducting his own investigation of the project. The State Auditor would have access to these and other documents that Wildman does not. Wildman's probe would not be impacted if a State Audit is begun. 

South Pasadena Caltrans Home Sale Upheld 

A Superior Court judge denied a request by the City of South Pasadena for a preliminary injunction against the sale of 11 Caltrans-owned homes to Pasadena Neighborhood Housing Services and Esperanza Charities, a housing agency and charity. The homes were to be demolished to clear land for construction of the 710 Freeway. The City could file for re­consideration, however, and introduce new evidence. 

Inglewood—La Cienega Corridor Rezone 

The Inglewood City Council is expected to approve a companion General Plan amendment this month that would re­zone a portion of the La Cienega corridor from industrial to commercial. The move is hoped to stem further industrialization of the area and to attract retail users interested in capitalizing on the area's freeway visibility. Inglewood's Redevelopment Agency is currently in exclusive negotiations to bring a Circuit City-owned Car Max auto mall to the corridor. 

For the record: In last month's TPR coverage of the Westside-urban Forum's annual Westside planning directors' meeting, Architect Steven Ehrlich, whose offices are moving to Culver City, was misidentified. TPR regrets the error. 


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