State Denies Great Park Bid to Keep $1.4 Billion in Tax Dollars

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The state has denied Irvine’s bid for a $1.4-billion tax stream to fund the Orange County Great Park, further clouding the future of what was billed as a rival to Balboa Park in San Diego and Central Park in New York.

The city has sued the state over the decision to take away what was to be the park’s primary funding source, the Los Angeles Times reported. Meanwhile, park leaders are “scrambling for alternatives.”

From the Times article:

The city was relying on taxes collected from housing and commercial development to be built surrounding the Great Park to fund the project, with $1.4 billion expected over 45 years. But the state Legislature’s decision to eliminate redevelopment agencies means the money is no longer Irvine’s to spend on the Great Park.

Irvine received the decision from the state Department of Finance on Friday and filed a lawsuit the same day asking for a temporary restraining order to prevent the state from taking any funds until the issue is settled. A hearing is scheduled Thursday.

[Irvine City Councilman Jeffrey] Lalloway said $2 million to $3 million currently is at stake, with more than a billion dollars in future tax funds hanging in the balance.

Since Gov. Jerry Brown announced that he wanted to steer redevelopment funds to the state, Irvine has been looking for other ways to help fund the Great Park. Lalloway said the city has been in negotiations with developer FivePoint Communities Inc. about nearly doubling the number of homes it is planning to build around the park while cutting back on commercial development.

Current plans give Fivepoint the right to ring the park with as many as 4,894 homes.

Hopes at City Hall had soared after the state Department of Finance informed the Voice of OC that the funding was scheduled to be approved without question. However, state officials erred in that announcement, saying that the information was intended for another city.

— ADAM ELMAHREK

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