State Has No Obligation to Fund ECCL; Attorney for Emeryville’s Oversight Board Says Agreement is Void
Two Days Too Late
An agreement by the state to pay $21 million in redevelopment money toward the Emeryville Center of Community Life (ECCL) does not constitute an enforceable contract and the city should withdraw its request for funding, said the attorney for Emeryville’s Oversight Board. The county-level Board was established to monitor the city’s transition now that the Governor has eliminated state redevelopment funds.
Oversight Board attorney Paula Crow has submitted an analysis of ECCL and other pending city projects under a new state law (AB 26) which defines what is and is not an enforceable obligation. Crow’s analysis, submitted to Oversight Board members Friday, said the agreement between the state and the city regarding ECCL was made two days too late. The contract was executed on July 1, 2011, two days after the effective date of the law eliminating redevelopment. Crow said ECCL should be removed from the city’s list of projects submitted to the state for continued funding under AB 26. Crow’s recommendation will be discussed by the Oversight Board at its regular meeting 5:30 pm tomorrow (Tuesday, May 29 ) at Emeryville City Hall.
“The Oversight Board has no discretion on this,” said Greg Harper, an Emeryville attorney, former mayor, and AC Transit representative on the Board. “It looks like the city moved fast to try to get it though, but not fast enough. It was two days too late.”
Harper added, “I am really happy we finally have a road map for evaluating these agreements. Paula has developed a template with which to analyze each and every project under AB 26 and determine which ones are enforceable obligations and which ones aren’t. Apparently, ECCL is an example of one that isn’t.”
It is important to note that this will not affect the portion of ECCL funded by the Emeryville Unified School District (EUSC) through a bond sale. That portion, including an elementary school and high school, sports fields, and other amenities at a cost of $48 million, will go forward. Plans for the other part of the project, to be paid with the $21 million in redevelopment money, included a community center with playgrounds, a courtyard, “paths and plazas,” and space for social service providers.
The elaborate and controversial plans for ECCL involve tearing down the high school this summer and moving those students to a location in Oakland that the EUSD is leasing for $1.1 million. A new school will be built on the site and the high school students will move back to the new school along with the students from Anna Yates Elementary School, which will close permanently. A recent renovation of Anna Yates cost almost $9 million. The school district has not divulged the future plans for the Anna Yates building. Some residents vehemently oppose the closing of Anna Yates and have sent a letter to the EUSD Board of Trustees. The letter will be formally presented to the Board at its June 11 meeting, according to an article in The Emeryville Tattler.
Go to the Emeryville Center of Community Life website for more information about the project.
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