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Here’s The Scoop …CRA ….It Stands For Community Redevelopment Agency … Or …. Here In Lauderdale-By-The-Sea ….For Calming Reactionionary Alarmists …

September 1, 2010 by Barbara

NO HUFFING AND PUFFING …. THIS TIME AROUND …..

Dear Readers …this writer has been doing some extensive research into the failed LBTS-CRA … This stems from where we find ourselves in 2010 after the election in March and the necessity of revising the Town’s Master Plan from 2005 along with the pressing concerns of our aging infrastructure and the need to move forward to revitalize not just a Master Plan on paper for another 5 years but revitalize the Town itself over the next 5-10 years to make it viable ….Before the Master Plan is revised there will definitely be the need to have those vision meetings put forth in the new budget by the Town Manager (prev. posts) …as well as bringing back some of those involved in the CRA which was decimated for political purposes in 2008 … They along with a knowledgeable Commission and Administration can prevail in explaining to the residents and businesses the ins and outs of the process required to sustain a viable future for LBTS.. Ms. Hoffmann and Mr Bentley were surely involved with major revitalization during their time in Fort Lauderdale which is a big plus in retaining them both…..Calming Reactionary Alarmists will definitely be a large part of any reintroduction of the CRA or any comparable program to re-develop LBTS …They must avoid the “land-mines” this time around ….although the changing demographics, so evident in town certainly allows for success this time around …

I’ve heard from some of the participants who played an integral role in the failed 2008 LBTS-CRA and asked one to provide me with a rudimentary description of what a CRA is to post…(see below) …That Reader also informed me of the 2006 Fl. HB 1567 in order to put the kibosh on the “land-mines” used last time around in order to alarm owners that eminent domain will be used when a blight designation is found in the process ….(see below)…

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I also received the following input  from another “Avid Reader” who graciously allowed me to post it….but preferred not to have a byline…

“LBTS has had some changes since the last full master plan and in the past decade. El Mar drive has undergone some changes. Two of the largest hotels have been torn down and converted into residential properties eliminating over 200 hotel rooms. An additional hotel property is planned to be changed in a similar fashion. It also appears that tourism may have changed, with economic hardships and travel rules changing the way families in the US and abroad go on vacation.

The Town is looking at investing significant dollars in the business community on El Mar and Commercial retail district. We should step back and understand where our Town stands. Looking at economic diversification and economic impacts from different demographic groups makes sense, we should know how our investment will impact our Town and our business community. In addition, our retail community could use the help of some economic development and study the local residential demographics.

The Town and Chamber of Commerce should come together in a partnership to make these studies come to life. In the next decade, our Town will need this strong partnership. The Chamber has the brain power to provide the necessary backup on

– Current economic impacts of our visitors
– Potential avenues of diversifying our economic base
– Study the demographics of our town and surrounding properties

The Chamber provides a great service in the welcome center, however, in addition the Chamber should grow with LBTS. Understanding where we are going in the next 10 years is crucial in all of the planning currently underway.”

BC-With the Chamber feeling “growing pains” from within, in this writer’s opinion (prev. post)….a business development committee appointed directly from the Town will be a necessity…..

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“Community Redevelopment Agencies: What, When, and How

CRAs, as they are known, are quite common, but often there are many questions in the minds of those who don’t work with them everyday. How are they authorized? Who oversees them? What is involved in their operation? How are they funded? This article is intended to simply answer those questions. It also summarizes the legislation passed in session 2002 relating to CRAs. For further information, please contact Carol Westmoreland of the Florida Redevelopment Association at [email protected] or call (850) 222-9684 ext. 115.

What is a Community Redevelopment Area or District?

Under Florida law (Chapter 163, Part III), local governments are able to designate areas as Community Redevelopment Areas when certain conditions exist. Since all the monies used in financing CRA activities are locally generated, CRAs are not overseen by the state, but redevelopment plans must be consistent with local government comprehensive plans. Examples of conditions that can support the creation of a Community Redevelopment Area include, but are not limited to: the presence of substandard or inadequate structures, a shortage of affordable housing, inadequate infrastructure, insufficient roadways, and inadequate parking. To document that the required conditions exist, the local government must survey the proposed redevelopment area and prepare a Finding of Necessity. If the Finding of Necessity determines that the required conditions exist, the local government may create a Community Redevelopment Area to provide the tools needed to foster and support redevelopment of the targeted area.

There are currently 178 Community Redevelopment Areas in the State of Florida. The designation is used by Florida cities of all sizes, from Jacksonville and Tampa to Madison and Apalachicola. Many familiar locations, such as Church Street in Orlando, Ybor City in Tampa and the beachfront in Ft. Lauderdale are successful examples of Community Redevelopment Areas.

What is a Community Redevelopment Agency?

The activities and programs offered within a Community Redevelopment Area are administered by the Community Redevelopment Agency. A five- to seven-member CRA “Board” created by the local government (city or county) directs the agency. The Board can be comprised of local government officials and or other individuals appointed by the local government. Although one local government may establish multiple CRA districts, there generally may be only one CRA Board. Each district must maintain separate trust funds, and expend those funds only in that district.

What is a Community Redevelopment Plan?

The Community Redevelopment Agency is responsible for developing and implementing the Community Redevelopment Plan that addresses the unique needs of the targeted area. The plan includes the overall goals for redevelopment in the area, as well as identifying the types of projects planned for the area.

Examples of traditional projects include: streetscapes and roadway improvements, building renovations, new building construction, flood control initiatives, water and sewer improvements, parking lots and garages, neighborhood parks, sidewalks and street tree plantings. The plan can also include redevelopment incentives such as grants and loans for such things as facade improvements, sprinkler system upgrades, signs, and structural improvements. The redevelopment plan is a living document that can be updated to meet the changing needs within the Community Redevelopment Area; however, the boundaries of the area cannot be changed without starting the process from the beginning.

What is Tax Increment Financing?

Tax increment financing is a unique tool available to cities and counties for redevelopment activities. It is used to leverage public funds to promote private sector activity in the targeted area. The dollar value of all real property in the Community Redevelopment Area is determined as of a fixed date, also known as the “frozen value.” Taxing authorities, which contribute to the tax increment, continue to receive property tax revenues based on the frozen value. These frozen value revenues are available for general government purposes. However, any tax revenues from increases in real property value, referred to as “increment,” are deposited into the Community Redevelopment Agency Trust Fund and dedicated to the redevelopment area.

It is important to note that property tax revenue collected by the School Board and any special district are not affected under the tax increment financing process. Further, unlike in some states, Florida taxing entities write a check to the CRA trust fund, after monies are received from the tax collector. In California, the increment is sent to the CRAs directly out of collected county tax revenues, before they are distributed to each taxing entity.

The tax increment revenues can be used immediately, saved for a particular project, or can be bonded to maximize the funds available. Any funds received from a tax increment financing area must be used for specific redevelopment purposes within the targeted area, and not for general government purposes.

How does the CRA Process Work?

A public meeting begins the designation process. Several steps will have to be accomplished before the Community Redevelopment Area becomes are reality. These steps are briefly outlined below.

I. Adopt the Finding of Necessity. This will formally identify the blight conditions within the targeted area and establish the area boundary.

II. Develop and adopt the Community Redevelopment Plan. The plan addresses the unique needs of the targeted area and includes the overall goals for redevelopment in the area, as well as identifying specific projects.

III. Create a Redevelopment Trust Fund. Establishment of the Trust Fund enables the Community Redevelopment Agency to direct the increase in real property tax revenues back into the targeted area.

The Florida Legislature addressed CRAs in 2002 from an intergovernmental point of view, to strengthen the ability of cities and counties to manage CRA creation, notices and term issues. Disputes between cities and counties involving CRAs can be resolved locally by interlocal agreements, and should be, since they usually involve growth management issues other than just funding.

Florida Redevelopment Association Legislative Position

The FRA supports the ability of local governments to create and effectively use community redevelopment agencies to redevelop and revitalize their urban areas. This includes the use of tax increment financing. We further support local control and disposition of any disputes between local governments over the use of such agencies and financing. The Florida Redevelopment Association is available for technical assistance, legislative advocacy and redevelopment educational resources.

For copies of current or past bills, statutes or further legislative information, you may visit www.leg.state.fl.us or call the FRA. at (800) 616-1513 ext. 115.

About the FRA

The Florida Redevelopment Association (FRA) is dedicated to the revitalization and preservation of Florida’s communities. Operated under a contract with the Florida League of Cities in Tallahassee, it’s purpose is to promote the improvement of downtowns and other urban areas through redevelopment and development activities under the Florida Statutes; encourage Florida’s communities to create a healthy mix of affordable workforce and market rate housing; and provide a forum for networking, training and technical assistance; be an advocate for its membership; and monitor legal and legislative issues. The FRA currently has more than 300 public and business agency members.

Summary

CRAs are a specifically focused financing tool for redevelopment. CRA Boards do not establish policy for the city or county – they develop and administer a plan to implement that policy. The CRA acts officially as a body distinct and separate from the governing body, even when it is the same group of people. The CRA has certain powers that the city or county by itself may not do, such as establish tax increment financing, and leverage local public funds with private dollars to make redevelopment happen. The CRA term is limited to 30 years, 40 years if extended. After that time, all revenues (presumably much increased from the start of the CRA) are retained by each taxing entity that contributed to the CRA trust fund.”
http://www.redevelopment.net/crafaq.aspx

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EMINENT DOMAIN TAKEN OUT OF THE BLIGHT STUDY IN 2006 …NO FEAR-MONGERING JUST THE FACTS ….
Excerpt…

“Most significantly, the new law
makes it crystal clear that local governments
are now restricted to taking
private property for uses that
have traditionally had a public purpose,
such as roads, utilities and government
infrastructure. Local governments
can no longer take private
property located in or out of a Community
Redevelopment Area and
“flip” it to a private developer for
shopping malls, movie theaters, condominiums,
or other private development
purposes, as it once could based
on the theories of elimination of a
nuisance, slum or blight. Specifically,
Chapter 73, Florida Statutes, has
been amended to expressly state that
the taking of private property for the
elimination of a nuisance or a slum
and blight condition do not satisfy the
“public purpose” requirement contained
in Article X of the Florida Constitution.
As a result of the new legislation,
the Community Redevelopment Act’s
“blighted area” test can no longer be
used as an “end run” around the
Florida Constitution’s “public purpose”
requirement. Notably, property
that is acquired in a CRA is also subject
to the same “cooling off” period
contained in Chapter 73, Florida
Statutes, which prohibits the transfer
of property acquired by eminent
domain to a natural person or private
entity for a period of ten years. In
addition, the law repeals the
Legislature’s prior delegation of eminent
domain authority to CRAs, and
now prohibits a CRA from exercising
eminent domain authority, thereby
limiting the exercise of the eminent
domain authority in a Community
Redevelopment Area to cities and
counties.
In light of the perceived gaps in
Florida’s eminent domain scheme
and the potential adverse affect that
Kelo could have on Florida takings
jurisprudence, the Florida Legislature
also passed House Joint Resolution
1569 proposing a constitutional
amendment, which, if approved in a
November 2006 referendum, would
permanently prohibit the transfer of
ownership or control of private property
taken by eminent domain to any
natural person or private entity, unless
authorized by general law passed
by a three-fifths vote of each house
of the Legislature. The amendment
would become effective on January 2,
2007.
III. Conclusion
Some government observers feel
that the new legislation and proposed
constitutional changes are a “kneejerk”
over-reaction to Kelo that will
undoubtedly have a chilling effect on
Florida’s ongoing redevelopment efforts.
Many property owners, however,
believe this legislation is a major
step toward preventing government
abuse and ensuring that the
Founding Fathers’ intent to protect
private property owners will continue
to be safeguarded. Governor
Bush himself aligned with those
seeking protection of property
rights and stated in a May 15, 2006
Tampa Tribune editorial, “Florida’s
private property rights are now the
toughest in the nation. I applaud
the Florida Legislature for using
its power to protect Floridians’ fundamental
right to own property
against the menacing power of eminent
domain.” In any event, the
Legislature’s swift and decisive enactment
of these new eminent domain
laws has sent a clear signal to local
governments that protecting the
rights of private propertyowners is
an important interest in the state
of Florida. ”

FLORIDA HOUSE BILL 1567 ….
HB 1567 – Eminent Domain
GENERAL BILL by Rubio (CO-SPONSORS) Adams; Allen; Ambler; Antone; Baxley; Bullard; Cannon; Carroll; Evers; Galvano; Grimsley; Harrell; Hasner; Hays; Homan; Kottkamp; Kravitz; Kreegel; McInvale; Murzin; Negron; Poppell; Quinones; Roberson, Y.; Sansom; Stansel; Stargel; Traviesa; Troutman; Williams, T.
Eminent Domain: Restricts certain transfers of property taken by eminent domain to certain natural persons or private entities; preserves the government entity communications services eminent domain limitation; clarifies that use for eminent domain means public use or public purpose; provides that the prevention or elimination of a slum area or blighted area does not satisfy the requirement under the State Constitution that a taking be for a public purpose, etc.
Effective Date: May 11, 2006, and applies to all property for which a petition of condemnation is filed pursuant to chapter 73 or chapter 74, Florida Statutes, on or after that date.

Last Event: 05/11/06 Approved by Governor; Chapter No. 2006-11; See also HJR 1569 (Passed) on Friday, May 12, 2006 10:16 AM”

http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=33829

Thanks to those of you who have made yourselves available to answer this writer’s questions…offered advice and have enthusiastically stated they would be willing to come back to the table to assist in the vision of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea ….

More to come….

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