Cheers and Smiles Are Casualties of the Oversight MeetingBy Ari L. Noonan @ 3:00 PM May 07, 2012
Even though last Thursday’s first meeting of the mystical Oversight Board – son of the assassinated Redevelopment Agencies – slogged along at a crippled turtle’s pace for nearly two hours before a mercifully empty chamber, evaluations were even slower to be drawn.
Jeff Muir, the Chief Financial Officer of Culver City and a central figure in the meeting, spoke with restrained deliberation this afternoon.
Ever wry, “interesting” was Mr. Muir’s opening conclusion, a voluble portrayal of his view.
Elaboration scarcely was needed.
The future of Culver City redevelopment is so muddled that months after a developer for golden Parcel B was selected, amidst confetti-laden fanfare, Mr. Muir said the Downtown plot’s timing schedule is “unclear.”
For a hefty chunk of last week’s meeting, County Regional Planning Director Richard Bruckner and land-use attorney Cindy Starrett surprisingly and bloodlessly jousted with Mr. Muir.
Unexpectedly, the two out-of-town members of the so far six-person board pressed, re-pressed and returned repeatedly to Mr. Muir with probing questions, born of skepticism, about matters often regarded routinely at City Hall, related to budget approval and sanctioning of relatively obscure agreements.
Mud on the Windshield
Since the sudden death of the state’s Redevelopment Agencies last Feb. 1, it has been obvious that all government-oriented development hereafter – that which has begun and that which just is hoped-for – will be drastically more complicated, meandering and painfully slower than ever before.
Like the rest of California’s government leaders, “I really didn’t know what to expect going into the meeting,” Mr. Muir said. “But I did not expect to get into the depth we did. I can understand, though, because of what we were asking them to approve. So I can’t blame them.”
He said it was a positive that “the County has been in touch with its appointees with regard to recommending what questions to ask.
“I guess none of what happened should have been unexpected. It was good we were able to get it approved and then to be able to get back to them on some items.”
With the sigh of a man coming face-to-face with a startling new reality, “there will be some work ahead,” Mr. Muir said.
“We have questions to be determined as we move forward – some of the funding we expect to receive, and whether or not we do.”
Down to Crawl Speed
How much will the dramatically reshuffled city-county-state power structures slow or impede what has been the normal pace of community development for decades?
“Substantially,” said Mr. Muir. “The role we have played in development is gone.
“You see what we get in areas where the Redevelopment Agency doesn’t get involved. There are any number of vacant lots throughout the city, parcels in need of being knocked down and rebuilt again.”
When word first raced through the state a year ago last January that new Gov. Brown meant to destroy the 400 Redevelopment Agencies and funnel the money to his coffers, Culver City and other communities scrambled to shore up projects that were under way or late in the planning stages.
Their preventative steps may have been for naught, as they knew from the beginning.
Pondering the question of whether the opening Oversight meeting was more encouraging or discouraging, Mr. Muir disappointedly said:
“It has been discouraging all the way through, and last week’s meeting just made it real.”