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CLA Weighs in on LATC

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, April 20, 2005, at 10:36AM

I know some of you are probably getting tired of my coverage of this issue, but I think it's important enough to the community that it should get whatever space it needs. I'll try to make this summary short and throw the rest of my analysis into the body, though.

As I reported on April 5th, the City Council's Budget and Finance Committee asked the Chief Legislative Analyst's Office (CLA) to make a report on the Council's options in regards to the Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC). That report is now out, dated April 15th, but stamped by the Clerk Monday, April 18th. The first two pages are pretty dry, but page three gets into whether the city could end the RFP process and begin exclusive negotiations with the Latino Theatre Company (LTC) and the Latino Museum (LM) for the operation of the space. In short: the CLA thinks they certainly could.

A PDF version of the report can be found through the Council's website, under the documents for file 03-2748.

First, a little background on where the Latino Museum comes into this. The Museum's location was acquired by the City via eminent domain in order for the Caltrans building to be constructed at 1st and Main. This left the museum without a home, but according to the CLA, $5.5 million richer.

The LM presently has $4 million in financial resources available for this project and future maintenance. These funds were primarly derived from the sale ofthe prior property which housed the Latino Museum. The City assumed ownership of the building through eminent domain and paid the Museum $5.5 million which was to be used to find a new location, $4 million of which the LM has pledged to this project.

The report does confirm that the LTC listed the City's expected donation of the building as their matching funds to get the state Prop 40 grant of $4 million.

In order to receive the $4M from the State, the LTC/LM must provide a match in fuds. The proposal submitted by the LTC to the State indicates that the LTC "expects to receive a matching grant from the City of Los Angeles for acquisition ofthe LATC". The Endowment has been working with the LTC who previously indicated that the City would donate the building to the L TC/LM and that the value ofthe land would be used to meet the matching requirements.

According to the CLA the state has now agreed that "the appraised value of a long term lease, for no less than 20 years, would fulfill the matching requirement." All of this would still need to be approved by the California Cultural and Historical Endowment, who manages the Prop 40 funds.

The CLA also ends their report by saying that Council may want to consider this a situation where the competitive bidding process would not be fruitful.

Charter Section 371 relative to competitive bidding states that the City is not obligated to comply with the competitive bidding process if the City "finds that the use of competitive bidding would be undesirable, impractical or impossible or where the common law otherwise excuses compliance with competitive bidding requirements". The City may find that issuing a new RFP would be impractical in that the City previously did not receive any responses to the RFP in which an entity indicated that it would commt $8 million to the renovation of the LATC, as proposed by the LTC/LM.

That's the part that would be really controversial. As I've said before, Tom Gilmore isn't too happy about how this process has been going lately, and has plainly indicated his intention to take the matter to court if the City does file and reject the existing RFP.

I would imagine there's still an office or two that will weigh in before the issue goes back to the Council on May 4th. Expect to see further coverage at that point.

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