The city of Irvine has backed away from a $1.4 billion pledge of future redevelopment dollars to fund construction of the Great Park, as City Manager Sean Joyce said the pledge wasn’t necessary to protect the revenue from Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to ax redevelopment agencies.

Joyce pulled the item off Tuesday night’s City Council meeting agenda, saying that a development agreement had already committed the funds to construction of the park.

“The ARDA [amended and restated development agreement with Heritage Fields El Toro, LLC] achieves much of the same — in my mind — in order to advance previous policy direction and protect related resources for the purposes they were intended,” Joyce said.

Generally, Brown’s proposal does not include taking redevelopment money already allocated to existing agreements. In response to the proposal, cities across the state have been taking action to lock up redevelopment money by committing future property tax increment. Voice of OC reported Tuesday that a few Orange County cities have recently joined that rush.

Irvine officials, unlike in other cities, have refused to acknowledge that they had planned to take steps this week that would protect redevelopment assets, and it remains unclear whether the city’s decision to back away from the pledge is a departure from the statewide strategy. However, Santa Ana City Council this week quietly signed off on a $210 million pledge with similar language.

In other council action related to redevelopment, City Council approved a transfer of 35 acres — property that was the center of a complicated $134 million financing and loan agreement — from the redevelopment agency back to the city. Council also approved the redevelopment agency’s $5.5 million payment to the city on the loan.


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