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City files lawsuit
By Rhea Serran
UNION CITY, Calif.
-- On Tuesday, January 29, 2013, the City of Union City filed a Writ of Mandate and Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief against the California Department of Finance, California State Controller and Alameda County Auditor Controller. The lawsuit challenges the determination of the Department of Finance to prohibit the expenditure of 2011 Bond Funds for transit-oriented development projects and to withhold payment of funds needed to fulfill the obligations of the former Redevelopment Agency.
The Writ will be available on the City of Union City’s Website (www.UnionCity.org) once filed and served with the court.
Before filing the lawsuit, the City of Union City met with the Department of Finance (DOF) in October and December 2012 to discuss the importance of completing the transit development project, including the Union City BART Phase II project that would open the East Side of the station to the transit-oriented housing project site. Union City representatives also advocated for continued support for the City’s low-income families, seniors and disabled population whose programs were affected by the state’s decision to take away funding. The DOF arbitrarily rejected the City’s factual arguments without serious analysis. Consequently, the City had no other alternative but to file suit challenging the DOF’s unsupported decisions. With the passage of AB1484, DOF is charged to take local revenues that are not supported by prior contracts or enforceable obligations. The financial burden is then shifted to the cities to meet obligations. By the State reaching into cities’ General Funds to absorb revenues, it threatens Union City’s public assets and the ability to provide local services to residents, especially the most at-risk populations - seniors, low-income families, disabled population and youth.
The funding denied by DOF will jeopardize local programs including rental assistance of the Tropics Mobile Home Park, employment services for Alameda County ARC and social services of Centro de Servicios (Centro). The Tropics Rental Assistance Program provides housing services for very-low and extremely low income seniors. The ARC is an organization that employs mentally-disabled adults to remove graffiti and clean public restrooms in Union City. Centro provides youth counseling to discourage gang activity, referrals to social service programs for residents of lower-income neighborhoods to stabilize and improve the economic conditions of households, thereby preventing neighborhood deterioration.
The DOF’s position to deny the expenditure of bond funds will also cause projects such as the City’s transit-oriented development project, the Station Center, to be jeopardized after millions of dollars of public funds have been invested in the project over the decade. In 2001, the City adopted the Union City Station District Plan to provide for transit-oriented development and an implementation program to achieve a pedestrian and transit-oriented, mixed-use downtown district adjacent to the Union City BART Station. Elements of the Station District Plan include high density multi-family residential development and affordable housing units. Since the adoption of the Station District Plan, $83.5M has been invested to acquire land, build infrastructure, underwrite construction of 185 affordable residential units and facilitate the construction of 811 residential units in the Station District area. Two components of the Station District Plan remain to be completed, the BART Phase 2 Station Project and East-West Connector.
The City is taking this necessary legal action to protect the public assets of our residents and our General Fund revenues to continue to provide the current level of City services, to complete transit- oriented development projects and to support social services programs.
For more information, visit www.UnionCity.org