On February 26th, we announced that the California Department of Finance filed an appeal with the State Supreme Court regarding the recently upheld appeals court decision siding with The City of Emeryville. Today it was announced that appeal was denied, resting the final decision with our city. The legal legacy holding up projects like the South Bayfront Bridge & The Transit Center projects that began in 2011 was finally over … but let’s just say we’re not holding a breath for a ribbon cutting ceremony anytime soon.
This is a victory for the city, but if you think this is the last hurdle to jump, you’d be wrong. There is still no guarantee that the Governor is ready to concede this money to us. The next check in will be June 15th, the deadline for the legislature to pass the Budget bill. The Governor and the Department of Finance are trying to negotiate another set of changes that would include, among other things, an ex post facto law that would basically rewind the clock and change the law about redevelopment dissolution and the rights of successor agencies like Emeryville’s, retroactively. Whether or not we ultimately get our bridge and transit center may ultimately rest upon whether the legislature goes along with the Governor’s plan or holds their ground and tells the Governor that they’ve had enough of the post-redevelopment saga. Stay tuned!
California Supreme Court Denies Review of Emeryville Re-entered Agreement Decision
DOF’s Pending Legislative Proposal Attempts to Reverse Decision As Well As Other Cases Where Local Agencies Have Prevailed, DOF Expected to Propose Revisions in Conjunction with May Budget Revise.
The California Supreme Court on April 22 denied review of the Third District Court of Appeal’s decision in City of Emeryville v. Cohen.
This closely-watched case involved various agreements between the city and its former redevelopment agency. After the Legislature dissolved redevelopment, the city re-entered into these agreements with its Successor Agency as permitted by the redevelopment dissolution statute, ABx1 26. The city then attempted to list these agreements on it recognized Obligation Payment Schedule (ROPS). The Department of Finance (DOF), however, rejected the agreements.
DOF advanced a number of arguments to justify its rejection of the agreements, all of which the Court rejected. The Court held that the plain language of ABx1 26 allowed the city and its successor agency, with the approval of the Oversight Board, to re-enter into agreements that were initially enter into by the city and its former redevelopment agency. DOF further argued that AB 1484, enacted after ABx1 26, applied retroactively to invalidate re-entered agreements. The Court rejected this argument finding that there was no legislative intent that AB 1484 apply retroactively to invalidate these agreements. In addition, it also rejected DOF’s suggestion that the city acted with improper motives by rushing through these agreements with knowledge that AB 1484 was pending in the legislature. In rejecting this argument, the Court took the commonsense approach that it is not “necessarily sinister for [the city] to hasten to comply with a law before adverse changes occur.”
With the Supreme Court’s denial of DOF’s petition for review, the Emeryville case is now final.
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Feature Image: The long vacant (and unfortunate aesthetics) EmeryStation Greenway building are one of the final legacies of Redevelopment.