But can the council be trusted with sole oversight of all the city’s public development? I doubt it. Keeping track of proj-ects out of their districts will never be a priority for members. Even with the present CRA arrangement, most council members will endorse any CRA project in another district — no matter how preposterous — to assure a reciprocal vote for a project in their own districts.
If the council does get to replace the CRA, the mayor, beholden to no single district, perhaps ought to get more control of its decisions (the report, by the way, indicates that the CRA has functioned far less offensively under Dick Riordan than it ever did under Tom Bradley). And here’s an even better idea: Why not give the city controller a veto over proposed CRA operations? For the last couple of decades, via countless audits, the controller has had to sweep up after this incontinent elephant of an agency. If anyone knows its ways and wiles, he does. Maybe a special urban development commission should replace the present CRA; it would be made up of the mayor, controller and three to five council members. This would minimize the vote trading and maximize the oversight.
The CRA in East L.A.
Now there’s another CRA project on the front burner. It’s a redevelopment zone including most of the commercial and industrial property in the 14th Council District. Although it went to the council for approval before the LAANE report, it seems to respond in part to that report’s critiques.
For one thing the so-called Adelante Project avoids most residential areas (but not all of them — there’s too much intermixture). This is clearly to appease locals who don’t want their homes condemned. Adelante includes three major commercial east-west thoroughfares: First Street, Whittier Boulevard and Cesar Chavez Boulevard. Otherwise, it embraces the industrial-commercial south side of the district, extends north on its western, Los Angeles River, edge, then chucks down Valley Boulevard east to the Alhambra line. The zone includes some empty and many polluted industrial sites. It also includes many struggling industries — metal-plating firms, sausage plants, noodle factories, tortilla works and plenty of garment shops.
During last month’s council presentations, many Eastside property and business owners stood up for Adelante. Obviously, they believed that the tax increment and bond monies would help them expand and flourish. There was less enthusiasm from residents, for several reasons. First, there’s the long recollection of what the CRA did to residents of downtown. And second — this was also noted by some of those who spoke for the project — very few people seem to have been alerted to the neighborhood-participation meetings the CRA held to get input on the project. "You usually did see the same people at different meetings," one project proponent allowed.
Thirdly, the project is the brainchild of exiting City Councilman Richard Alatorre, and has the strongest support from council candidate Luis Cetina — Alatorre’s favored successor.
Which makes you wonder what role Alatorre and his crew might continue to play in the 14th District, long after he steps down in June.