There's a new group of government officials making decisions in Mountain View, and it has a very long name: the Downtown Revitalization Authority Successor Agency Oversight Committee. Go ahead, say it fast 10 times.
The new board has some familiar faces, including Kevin Duggan, Mountain View's former city manager, who retired last year after 20 years on the job.
The group of county, school, city and water district officials has been directed to oversee the state-ordered shutdown of Mountain View's downtown redevelopment agency. The City Council created the agency in 1969 to use downtown property taxes almost exclusively to pay for downtown redevelopment: building facades, street improvements and business recruitment, among other things.
"If anybody knows Mountain View's revitalization district, it's Kevin," said Mayor Mike Kasperzak, who appointed Duggan to the board.
"The respect he's earned from others in the community" is another reason for the choice, he said.
After retiring a year ago, Duggan is back at city hall for the board's monthly meetings on Monday mornings, and, as he likes to joke, restraining himself from advising new City Manager Daniel Rich. He was elected chair at the board's first meeting on April 2, in which the board learned about its role under state law.
"I'm very familiar with the Revitalization Authority, that part is pretty straight-forward," Duggan said. "However, state law has created a process somewhat complicated, some would say convoluted. All of us are learning how exactly it's supposed to operate and how to implement its goals."
The biggest challenge for the board may be deciding what to do with the Revitalization Authority's assets, including at least $5.5 million in unspent funds and six downtown properties totaling an acre, which are worth $5 million and were assembled for redevelopment starting in 1989. Such decisions could pit the city against the other taxing agencies who might want all the assets to go towards boosting tax revenues.
In other communities "these boards have become somewhat contentious and somewhat adversarial," Duggan said. "But I'm very confident that it's going to be a collaborative process. We all want Santa Clara County to be a better place for people to live and work. My sense is people will be focused on that objective."
Duggan also gave his perspective on the downtown properties: "Those properties were strategically acquired over the last 10-20 years to allow some important redevelopment downtown." An important decision will hinge on the board's answer to this question: "Is there some way to allow these properties to be part of an overall development plan versus sold off piecemeal?"
The board members serve as volunteers and will not be compensated. In fact, they are prohibited from being paid by state law, Duggan said.
The board's seven members were appointed by various agencies under the new law, and include mayoral appointee Ellis Berns, the Mountain View economic development director; California Community College District appointee and Mountain View-Los Altos High School District associate Superintendent Joe White; county Board of Education appointee and Mountain View-Whisman School District Superintendent Craig Goldman; Santa Clara Valley Water District appointee and Water District board chair Linda LeZotte; county Board of Supervisors appointee and county Controller-Treasurer Irene Lui; and finally, county Board of Supervisors appointee Alan Minato, the county finance agency division manager.