Council Says “No” to Transfer of Park District Funds

Move would have been an ‘advance’ to push two capital improvement projects forward, before residential impact fees become available to fund them

Published : Wednesday, August 29, 2018 | 5:20 AM

The Pasadena City Council seen in session on Monday, August 27, 2018

A City staff resolution to “advance” Residential Impact Fees from one City Park District to another to fund Capital Improvement Projects in various parts of Pasadena was rejected by the City Council Monday.

“It’s a really slippery slope when we start to move funds that, in the first place, have to have a nexus to the original project,” Councilmember Steve Madison said during the deliberations.

The Council had originally asked the Finance Committee if Central Park District funds could be advanced to the West Park district until an estimated $7.1 million in Residential Impact Funds is received from the ongoing Lincoln Properties Parsons development project at 100 West Walnut Street.

According to the staff report presented by Public Works Director Ara Maloyan, the Pasadena Municipal Code allows the City Council to authorize such an action through the adoption of a resolution.

The remaining Residential Impact Fees balance in the Central Park District was $6.3 million as of June 30, 2018. The RIF balance in the West Park District was $133,000 with an anticipated increase of $7.1 million during the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2019 from the Lincoln Properties project, city documents show.

Any dollars borrowed to fund capital improvement projects in the West park district will be repaid to the Central Park district “upon receipt of adequate funds in the West,” said the staff proposal.

Madison noted that the Council used to follow the rule that Residential Impact Fees—fees paid by developers to benefit the surrounding communities—have to be used on community projects that are near the development.

“If I build a multi-family development,” continued Madison, “those families are going to need a place to walk the dog, read the paper and throw the Frisbee…There is no question that we have significant needs throughout the City, and Robinson Park would be especially deserving, but we have this mechanism whereby we charge developers significant fees for amenities in that community.”

Madison continued, “Now, we’re saying we’re not even going to do that. We’re going to take that money and move it back and forth throughout the City wherever we want to spend it. We can say we’re just borrowing it, and we will repay it next year, but we don’t even know what’s going to happen next week.”

Madison also questioned the need to quickly build the restroom in Desiderio Park, given the vocal opposition to it shown by community residents at the meeting Monday evening.

On July 9, 2018, the Finance Committee was presented with these findings and directed staff to return to City Council with recommendations appropriating funds from the Central park district to Capital Improvement Program (CIP) projects in the West park district, and to discuss the impacts to the Central park district if the West park district borrows the RIF funds.

At this time, none of these projects are ready to move forward, the report stated. Therefore, staff does not anticipate any negative impacts on the Central park district by lending funds to the West district.

Staff had recommended that a total of $4,600,000 be transferred from the Central district and appropriated to the Desiderio Park and Jackie Robinson Park projects, based on Finance Committee and City Council discussions during the Fiscal Year 2019 Capital Improvement Program Budget Adoption process.

The Robinson Park Pool and Pool Building renovation would include replacing the existing pool with a deeper pool to accommodate lap swimming and/or 1-meter springboard diving; replacing the pool deck, shade structure, bleachers, and perimeter fencing; and renovation of the existing pool building, and cost $3.8 million. Design of the project would begin immediately with construction is estimated to be completed by the end of the fiscal year in 2021.

The new restroom building at Desiderio Park is estimated to cost $720,000, and construction of the project is anticipated to be completed in the Fall of 2019.

“If we have an extra $700,000 lying around, we should use it to protect against suicides on the (Colorado Street) bridge, not to build a restroom that suicide victims will land on,” said Madison.

Councilmember Victor Gordo questioned the need to fund the Robinson Park project at this point since according to Public Works Director Maloyan, the construction and design would take about a year, at which time the Lincoln Properties impact fees would likely have been received.

Vice-Mayor John Kennedy also offered that, in the future, upon the receipt of residential impact fees in any district, that a mechanism be in place to move projects forward that have been previously approved by the Council, as opposed to having Councilmembers having to decide between different projects in different districts.