Printed in The Desert Sun
March 16, 2011
In La Quinta, When It Comes To Investments,
The Math Does Not Add Up
A recent article in The Desert Sun entitled “Redevelopment Agency Funds OK’d For Projects” omitted some material facts about what La Quinta has “done with its monies.”
Some of your readers may be unaware that the City of La Quinta has “invested” over $300,000,000 on redevelopment, according to Mayor Don Adolph’s 2010 “State Of The City” report. This is a staggering sum for any municipality, particularly one that has experienced difficulties over the years safeguarding public funds.
The jury is out as to whether public funds in La Quinta are now being invested in a fiscally responsibly manner by our local redevelopment agency, notwithstanding claims from city leaders that we need to “stay the course” in an ever-changing world.
According to Mayor’s Adolph’s 2010 State of The City, our redevelopment funds are invested in public facilities, infrastructure, parks, city amenities, economic development, and affordable housing projects.
You may be asking yourself right now – shouldn’t redevelopment funds be spent on blighted areas? For those who are uninitiated, redevelopment diverts property tax revenues from public services.
La Quinta has lost millions of dollars on its so-called investments. For example, in the past two years, the city lost over $1.5 million on the SilverRock Golf Course, according to its 2009 and 2010 annual “Comprehensive Annual Financial Statements.” To date, the city has spent over $50 million on SilverRock. The city has allocated another $30 million in redevelopment funds for this boondoggle, among other designated capital improvement projects.
To add insult to injury, according to an article in The Desert Sun dated September 18, 2009, the La Quinta City Council signed a 3-year contract to turn part of SilverRock into a 30-acre farm. It gets better than that. The city is paying the farmer Precision Land Leveling $345,000 a year for “…dust control, weed, and debris removal.” For some of us, redevelopment in La Quinta has taken on a whole new meaning.
Perhaps this will sum it up: In an article dated July 23, 2002 in the Public Record, La Quinta City Council member Stanley Sniff is quoted as saying when referring to SilverRock “We are trying, as best we can, to secure our economic future,” says Sniff. “This is the last and best opportunity to do that.”
The City has also invested redevelopment money on purchasing homes in the La Quinta Cove. What’s wrong with this picture? Is it prudent to spend public funds on investments that are known to be declining in value?
Why did La Quinta recently “commit” $800 million of its redevelopment funds “…to finish partially completed projects and fund future ones,” according to the above referenced article in The Desert Sun dated February 3, 2011? That’s a lot of redevelopment debt to pass along to our children and grandchildren.
Given La Quinta’s bitter-sweet experience with redevelopment, including its $14.2 million Wymer investment scandal, as reported in a Los Angeles Times article by James S. Granelli dated July 1, 1993, we believe it’s time for Mayor Adolph to appoint a special Blue Ribbon committee to revisit what got us into trouble in the past, and what we must do to reform our investment and redevelopment practices, before it’s too late.
It is our sincere hope as Concerned Citizens of La Quinta that the State Controller’s office takes a close look at our redevelopment agency, because something doesn’t seem to be quite right or to put it differently, “La Quinta (Houston) we have a problem.”
For information on the CCOLQ and its activities, please contact Judy Hoffman via e-mail at email@example.com. Public meetings are scheduled monthly.
Signed, Judy Hoffman, David M. Kanter, Phil Werber
Board Members, Concerned Citizens of La Quinta