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May 04, 2005
San Jose claims county suit has no merit
Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal
A lawsuit filed by Santa Clara County against the city of San Jose and its redevelopment agency has no merit and is based on false information, says City Attorney Rick Doyle.
"(County Counsel Ann Ravel) told me they were going to file it earlier this week. She thinks we breached (an) agreement. There is nothing to it. Nothing to it," Mr. Doyle said April 29. "I'm at a loss to understand why they are doing this."
Santa Clara County filed the cross complaint against the city and its RDA in San Mateo Superior Court on April 28, alleging that the city has failed to live up to its side of the bargain under a May 2001 agreement.
In particular, the county contends that the city has failed to meet three stipulations -- that the city annex unincorporated urban pockets within the city's limits; that the city and redevelopment agency work cooperatively with the county before seeking changes to state redevelopment law; and that the city acknowledge that county-owned land and facilities and existing county land-use plans are not subject to the annexation or land-use procedures set out in the 2001 accord.
Among other things, the county complains that the city is eager to annex territory in Coyote Valley, where it plans massive new development. But it is not interested in annexing the county pockets, as it has promised, where residents are "poor and minority," says County Counsel Ann Ravel.
Ms. Ravel says the county hasn't decided whether to oppose the city's annexation of thousands of acres in Coyote Valley.
But, she said, "It is possible that the county would do it."
Mr. Doyle counters that the city has annexed approximately 450 acres of county pockets divided among nearly 50 parcels or combinations of parcels over the last several years. While he concedes that some annexations have been slowed by legal issues, he says the pace of progress depends not only on city resources devoted to the task but also county resources dedicated to getting the job done.
"If they are suing us because we haven't moved fast enough, it's a two-way street," he says.
The city and the county have a history of friction, particularly with regard to the redevelopment agency. The county has complained that the city's RDA collects property taxes at the county's expense. Ms. Ravel says that the new businesses and residents brought to the region by RDA efforts often don't mean more revenue to the county even though the county is expected to provide services to them.
More recently, the city has lobbied in Sacramento to get state redevelopment law changed in ways that would broaden its jurisdiction and lengthen its tenure, something the county isn't likely to welcome.
But, Mr. Doyle says that RDA tax revenues are a direct result of RDA's efforts and that there wouldn't be more tax revenue generated if the RDA hadn't done its job. Besides, part of the 2001 agreement was the city's agreement to forward more than $50 million to the county.
"This is taxpayers suing themselves," he said, "and that's not a good use of resources."
Recently the two governments have argued over county plans to build a theater at the county fairgrounds. The city has supported a rival project in downtown. Neither has gotten off the ground, but there is general agreement that the community can't support two such similar developments.
The county's suit was filed in San Mateo County Superior Court because of pending litigation between the county and city already filed there, Ms. Ravel said.Posted by Coalition Webbies at May 4, 2005 04:20 PM