LOS ANGELES — The Strategic Growth Council and partner agencies went from 0 to $120 million in the span of a few short months this year. Spurred by the passage of a budget bill last year, guidelines for the new Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities grant program came out in January, initial applications were accepted March, and just last month 28 grant awardees were announced.
A Riverside County city will take the first steps to disincorporate itself in January, with the blame being pointed at Sacramento and state government decisions about how new cities are financed. Several other cities in the Inland Empire have discussed disincorporation, but no others appear to be close to taking such an action.
The city, named Jurupa Valley, could be any city in California. But most observers say the disincorporation is due to the fact that it was the last city to incorporate before state laws changed in 2011.
At times, city officials in California couldn't be blamed for wanting to revert to bygone times, such as, perhaps, 14th century Italy. City-states would be one solution to what seems to be persistent rancor between Sacramento and cities. At the heart of that fray lies the League of California Cities, whose mission is to lobby for the diverse interest of the state's 600-plus cities.
With funding scarce and plans large and small in abundance, the latest round of Sustainable Communities Grants and Urban Greening Grants awarded by the Strategic Growth Council come as welcome relief to cities, counties, and other agencies. Last month, the SGC announced that it would award $24.6 million in Sustainable Communities Planning Grants and $20.7 million in Urban Greening Grants. Both programs are funded by the clean water bond Prop. 84.
After yesterday's California Supreme Court oral argument in California Redevelopment Association vs. Matosantos – the lawsuit challenging the state's new pay-ransom-or-die redevelopment system – it's still hard to tell where the court will go. But the biggest question that emerged was: What happens it the court upholds AB 1x 26, which abolishes redevelopment, but strikes down AB 1x 27, which permits redevelopment agencies to continue to exist if they pay a "remittance" to the state?
At the rate things are going, cities in California might not just be broke -- they might become an endangered species. This month, a grand jury recommended that governance of the tiny city of Maricopa be turned over to the Kern County Board of Supervisors.
The Malibu policeman's immortal warning "keep out of my beach community!" in the 1998 leisure-sport epic The Big Lebowski could just as easily have been uttered last autumn by certain residents of Orange County's unincorporated community of Sunset Beach. In this case, though, they would not be shouting at The Dude but rather at the entire City of Huntington Beach.
Instead, a group of Sunset Beach residents are suing the City of Huntington Beach for, they say, unfairly imposing a 5% Users Utility Tax on them.