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Redevelopment Remains a Hot Issue for Cerritos Council

Over the course of the past month, the Cerritos City Council continues to fight to protect the cities assets, while the public refuses to silence their concerns.

Editor's Note: The below mentioned council meetings occurred prior to the . 

The recently dissolved redevelopment agency remained a hot and vocalized issue at the Cerritos City Council's last two meetings held on Feb. 27 and March 8.

Recognized Obligations Payment Schedule

On Feb. 27, the council adopted the Recognized Obligations Payment Schedule (ROPS) as a result of Assembly Bill 26, which, due to Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal, dissolves California redevelopment agencies effective Feb. 1. 

This bill also means Cerritos has to comply with ROPS, which is a document ensuring the city is ABLE to pay enforceable obligations from the dissolved redevelopment agency. Other enforced obligations include bonds, loans of money from the agency, pass-through payments, judgements, and settlements. Budget Administrator, Geri DeMasi said the first draft of the ROPS was due by March 1.

DeMasi said the initial draft (ROPS) is subjected to review and certification by an outside auditor, the adopted ROPS must be posted on the successor agency's website (City of Cerritos) and the document must be transmitted to the state department of finance, the state controller's office and the Los Angeles County's Auditors Controllers office.

"Please note that AB 26 requires a successor agency to prepare a new ROPS document and submit it to the oversight board for every 6-month period going forward," DeMasi said.

March 8 Public Comments

On Feb. 9, resident Jay Gray voiced his opinion on the the redevelopment agency dissolution. Gray said the money put into the agency could have been used on various projects in Cerritos, but now the agency is gone. He bashed the councilmembers saying there are “millionaires up here collecting lifetime benefits once they leave.” Eventually, Gray's microphone was turned off. Gray returned to the March 8 council meeting and said cutting off his microphone was a "political act of bullying."

"I find it a little childish of her (Mayor Carol K. Chen) to act in such a manner," Gray said. "We have a resident here willing to speak, and because someone disagrees with her comments, she acts like a baby."

The council's approach in dealing with the redevelopment agency issues was met with criticism, mainly by . Fuentes criticized Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Barrows for pushing for a previously-created sculpture in lieu of sculpture being specifically created for the Cerritos Sculpture Garden.

"We had submissions from all over the world - beautiful," Fuentes said. "To grill the artist in the fashion that you did, and to somehow castigate and chastise the Fine Arts Commission for their decision, which was well thought out and perfectly reasoned, was, to me, not really appropriate. It was unseemly, especially in light of the fact that after subverting that call for artists project sculpture garden, Bruce Barrows then took the $75,000 prize because he thought that the piece of sculpture that he wanted wasn't big enough, so you all voted to increase that to $100,000."

Last year, Barrows had concerns with the safety of a lighted sculpture by Cliff Garten, the artist recommended by the Fine Arts Commission, due to passing traffic being distracted by a lighted object.

Consideration to waive reading of and introduce AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF CERRITOS AMENDING CHAPTER 22.30, OPEN SPACE (OS), OF THE CERRITOS MUNICIPAL CODE BY ADDING MUSEUMS AS A PERMITTED USE. 

City Manager Art Gallucci explained how, due to the recent dissolution of the Cerritos Redevelopment Agency, this property (which is now owned by the city) could be taken by the State of California. In order to protect the property, zoning can be changed to Open Space which would allow it to be used for schools and/or museums. The item was approved by the council. Fuentes returned to speak on the Public Hearing item regarding an ordinance which would allow the land located at 12616 E. 183rd St for museum use.

"In the Vegas game of government, you were on a big run," Fuentes said. "We kept raking in the money with this redevelopment business. But, you know what, it came up craps. It's over."

Chen wanted to clarify to the audience that there is still an ongoing lawsuit that the city of Cerritos is spearheading against the state of California on the constitutionality of Assembly Bill 26.

"This is all part of the plan in terms of protecting city's asset as well as having a final outcome in terms of the ruling by the court," Chen said.

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