City of Anaheim v. CohenAnnotate this Case
In this redevelopment case, the city of Anaheim, acting in its capacity as successor to the former Anaheim Redevelopment Agency, sought approval from the California Department of Finance (the department) to obtain money from the Redevelopment Property Tax Trust Fund (the fund or, the RPTTF) to pay back the city of Anaheim for payments the City of Anaheim made to a construction company to complete certain real property improvements that the former Anaheim Redevelopment Agency was obligated to provide on a particular redevelopment project (the packing district project). The city and the city-as-successor characterized the transaction between themselves as a loan, but the department ultimately denied the claim for money from the fund because the city did not disburse the loan proceeds to the city-as-successor, but instead paid the construction company directly, and because the city-as-successor did not obtain prior approval for the “loan” agreement with the city from the oversight board. Around the same time, the city-as-successor sought approval from the department to obtain money from the fund to make payments to the Anaheim Housing Authority (the authority) under a cooperation agreement between the agency and the authority, the purpose of which was to provide funding for the Avon/Dakota revitalization project, which was being carried out by a private developer -- The Related Companies of California, LLC (Related) -- pursuant to a contract with the authority. The department denied that claim because the 2011 law that dissolved the former redevelopment agencies rendered agreements between a former redevelopment agency and the city that created that agency (or, a closely affiliated entity like the authority) unenforceable. The city, the city-as-successor, and the authority sought mandamus, declaratory, and injunctive relief on both issues in the superior court, but the trial court denied the writ petition and dismissed the complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief. The Court of Appeal reversed, finding: (1) with respect to the packing district project, the fact that the city contracted directly with the construction company to construct the improvements the agency was legally obligated to provide at that project, and the fact that the city paid the company directly for its work, did not mean the agreement between the city and the city-as-successor with respect to the transaction was not a loan, as the department and the trial court concluded, also, the fact that the city-as-successor did not obtain prior approval from the oversight board to enter into a loan agreement with the city did not give the department a valid reason to deny the city as successor’s request for money from the fund to pay off the loan; and (2) as for the money from the fund claimed for the Avon/Dakota revitalization project, enforcing the provision of the dissolution law that renders unenforceable an agreement between a former redevelopment agency and the city that created it (or an affiliated entity like the authority) would, in this case, unconstitutionally impair Related’s contractual rights under its agreement with the authority.