2005-07-15 / Front Page
City seeking downtown community members for seats on Project Area Committee
By Sylvie Belmondbelmond@theacorn.com
Last week the Moorpark City Council reviewed the details on the formation of a Project Area Committee (PAC), which will make recommendations to the Moorpark Redevelopment Agency on matters related to the restoration of the agency’s authority to use eminent domain in downtown Moorpark.
“We want as many people as possible to run so the whole redevelopment area has a chance to be represented and everyone eligible has an opportunity to become a member of the PAC,” said Councilmember Roseann Mikos.
The agency intends to regain the use of eminent domain, the ability of the state to acquire private property at fair market value for public use, so it can acquire nonresidential properties and revitalize downtown Moorpark with a blend of businesses, offices, entertainment venues and restaurants. But officials don’t plan to use eminent domain if the original owner inhabits a commercial or industrial property, agency members said.
Notices will be sent to all residents in the PAC area to inform them about this opportunity to serve. City staff suggested the committee should be composed of five members to represent residential owner-occupants, residential tenants, business owners, business property owners and existing community organizations.
Voters will choose a PAC member to represent their own category. They will also be able to select a community group, which will then appoint one of its members to serve on the committee. Redevelopment law prohibits cross voting.
Only one person from each household, business or community organization in the project area will be eligible to vote, said Hugh Riley, assistant city manager.
Councilmember Janice Parvin said she was concerned about the potential for monopoly. She indicated the matter wasn’t addressed and wanted to establish boundaries to prevent more than one person from the same family to run for a seat on the committee.
Mayor Pro Tem Clint Harper said the committee might be too small and he was concerned about the potentials for a lack of quorum.
Cindy Hollister, the only public speaker at the meeting, agreed the committee should be expanded. She also suggested that everyone in the city should have a vote because the committee’s decisions ultimately affect the whole city.
“But the statute doesn’t allow for a city wide election,” said Riley. “The PAC is setup specifically to address eminent domain issues in the designed area.”
The redevelopment agency is preparing a proposed amendment to the redevelopment plan for the project area but it needed to reestablish its rights to use eminent domain because the authority, which lasted 12 years, expired in 2001.
In reinstating the agency’s eminent domain authority, the city is required by law to establish a new Project Area Committee and now the city is working on the details of the committee’s formation, election and functions.
An informational workshop to answer questions from persons who may be interested in serving on the committee is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 15.
The term of the committee members will begin at the election throughout the time of preparation of the amendment and for three years once the amendment has been adopted. The PAC meetings will be open to the public and operate under the Brown Act.
Applicants must submit a completed PAC application to the city’s redevelopment department.
PAC elections are currently scheduled for Sept. 15, but some believe the date should be pushed back to Oct. 15.
All voters will have to register on the night of the election, currently scheduled for Sept. 15, to receive a voting ballot. Absentee voter ballots will be available until 5 p.m. on the seventh business day before the election. The council will hold another public hearing on this topic on Wed., July 20.
The city council had formed a similar Project Area Committee in 1988 as part of its initial redevelopment plan adoption process. This committee ceased to function as an advisory body in 1991.