Client Successes Sep 19, 2016

BB&K Represents City in Successful Recovery of Redevelopment Loans

Partner Iris Yang Litigated Against Department of Finance

Best Best & Krieger LLP Partner Iris Yang represented the City of La Habra in its successful effort to recover millions of dollars in redevelopment financing.

The legislation that dissolved redevelopment agencies in 2012 provided that, in general, agreements between a redevelopment agency and the city (or county) that created it were invalid with a couple of exceptions. One exception was agreements executed in connection with a financing.

To receive property taxes to be able to make payments on their various obligations, successor agencies (the entities created after redevelopment agencies were dissolved) must periodically file a Recognized Obligation Payment Schedule. The ROPS must be approved by the successor agency’s oversight board and, ultimately, by the California Department of Finance. The DOF can overrule an oversight board’s determination.

In 1998, La Habra issued Certificates of Participation to refinance bonds issued several years earlier by the former Redevelopment Agency. The City and Redevelopment Agency made a loan agreement whereby the Agency agreed to make payments to the City that were equal to the payments that the City had to make under the COPs documents.

The Successor Agency listed the loan agreement payments on its various ROPS. DOF approved payments under the loan agreement for several cycles, but then began disapproving them. DOF did not like the fact that the Agency had to pay accrued interest on payments that it was unable to make for a period of time, so it determined that the entire loan agreement was invalid.

The trial court agreed that the penalty provision was a standard provision in any loan agreement, and that DOF had abused its discretion in denying that the loan agreement was a valid enforceable obligation. For example, if one doesn’t make a mortgage payment, interest will accrue on the unpaid amount until both the accrued interest and unpaid amount are fully repaid.

For La Habra, this represents being able to recover about $9 million, which includes about $5.5 million in accrued interest and principal payments that were advanced by the City General Fund to make payments on behalf of the former Redevelopment Agency.

The case is City of La Habra and City of La Habra Successor Agency v. Michael Cohen in his Capacity as Director of the Department of Finance, et al., Sacramento Superior Court Case No. 34-2015-80002208.

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