City Parking Lots Saved from State Seizure
The State Department of Finance has dropped its opposition to efforts by the City of Santa Barbara to retain control and ownership of all downtown public parking lots and garages built with Redevelopment Agency dollars. The ownership dispute surfaced this summer when all Redevelopment Agencies throughout California were ordered dissolved as a consequence of a protracted battle between the cash-strapped state legislature and local governments over control and access to the agencies’ revenues. When the City of Santa Barbara sought to assume ownership over the lots and garages its Redevelopment Agency built, the state objected, arguing such structures did not constitute a legitimate government function. City Hall — which had invested millions in such lots over the years as part of its downtown revitalization efforts — brought out the big guns to do battle if need be. Both Assemblymember Das Williams and State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson joined the fray on City Hall’s behalf and state finance officials backed off.