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Redevelopment Agency CEO Calls for More Strategic Transit Investment

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, March 18, 2009, at 11:03AM
Cecilia Estolano Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Community Redevelopment Agency CEO Cecilia Estolano speaks to Wednesday morning's ULI Marketplace audience.

Criticizing the federal stimulus package's focus on shovel-ready projects as "band-aids," Community Redevelopment Agency CEO Cecilia Estolano today called for more investment in projects with long-term benefits. "Little attention has been given to strategic development," she told the crowd, made up of approximately 600 individuals from the real estate and development communities.

She called on the audience to advocate for a shift in funding from highways to transit. "Can we just make it 50-50 or even 60-40? ... We need to be unabashed in our efforts" to secure money for transit, she told them.

Estolano gave the keynote Wednesday morning at the Urban Land Institute Los Angeles' Marketplace event at the Los Angeles Convention Center. This year's edition of the annual event was titled "At the Crossroads: Transportation and Development."

While Estolano was very supportive of public stimulus, she expressed regret that more of the federal package wasn't headed for projects like those her agency deals with. "There in fact very little money for economic development," she said.

Last year's economic meltdown has made it almost impossible for private projects to find the necessary funding. Estolano said that while her agency waits for that capital to return, it is focused on preparations that will make the job of development easier. She highlighted strategic infrastructure projects and community plan updates that will cut costs for developers later.

Councilwoman Jan Perry gave the event's opening remarks, for the third year presenting a poem by the winner of a high school poetry competition. This year's winner was Victoria Williams, an 11th grader. Her poem talked about lives that come together through transportation. Williams poem was selected by Perry and Downtown Poet-Broker Ed Rosenthal.

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