The City of Santa Barbara can transfer its former Redevelopment Agency-owned parking structures and lots to city ownership, after the state Department of Finance reversed its earlier decision.
It’s very good news, Assistant City Administrator Paul Casey said. With the dissolution of the RDA last year, he said, the city worried about losing properties in addition to cash assets.
Department of Finance consultant Steve Szalay said the state reviewed information about the parking properties that were previously denied for transfer.
The Department of Finance still objects to transferring the 5.39-acre railroad depot property — which includes parking and the nearby land where a children’s museum is planned — and a Bath Street parcel, but they can be transferred in the future as part of the successor agency’s Long-Range Property Management Plan.
“Finance originally denied the transfer of the parking lots because they were mixed use and open to individuals other than government employees,” Szalay wrote in a letter to the city. “However, based on the unique parking and business improvement area assessment, which was formed in 1971, Finance concurs that these properties should be maintained as governmental purpose and therefore are eligible for immediate transfer.”
The properties include the commuter lots at Cota and Carrillo streets, the 217 Helena St. parking lot, the Garden Street public parking lot, and parking structure Nos. 2, 6, 10, 11 and 12.
The Bath Street property, which the city wants to use for a pocket park, and the railroad depot will need more work before they can be transferred to the city, which is the RDA’s successor agency.
The Long-Range Property Management Plan provides a way to transfer properties that the city wants to keep for future development. Properties don’t have to be liquidated and sold to private parties if they aren’t transferred to the city for governmental purpose, Szalay said.
The City Council will finalize the parking lot transfers at next week’s meeting, according to City Administrator Jim Armstrong. The city will also start to work on its Long-Term Property Management Plan to address the depot and Bath Street properties.
The state did not object to transferring housing assets, Chase Palm Park and the Ortega Water Treatment Facility, which was done in November. The city also handed over about $2 million in housing cash it had at the time RDAs were dissolved.
— Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.