MOLLOY:Q & A;/fine/40" (including glance box)/mike1st/mark2nd
By HOWARD FINE
Last week, the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency marked its 50th anniversary. During its half-century history the agency has guided the investment of more than $8 billion from private developers, transformed the downtown L.A. skyline and brought new development into areas as far-flung as Reseda and San Pedro. However, the CRA has also been a frequent target of criticism from groups that say it has neglected the concerns of small businesses and residents in favor of major developers.
With the rebounding economy, the CRA has not faded into the background. Rather, it has stepped up its efforts in Hollywood and in major downtown projects like the proposed Staples Center arena and Catholic cathedral. And the CRA is attempting to launch a major redevelopment zone in East Los Angeles.
Spearheading the CRA's efforts is planning and redevelopment veteran John Molloy, who came to the agency in late 1995 after serving as head of the Sacramento Redevelopment and Housing Agency. A native of Bristol, Conn., Molloy, 51, served 30 years with the U.S. Air Force, the Air Force Reserve and the California Air National Guard, from which he recently retired with the rank of colonel. After serving in Vietnam, Molloy left the Air Force to pursue a career in public administration and regional planning.
Molloy lives in the Bunker Hill section of downtown Los Angeles.
Question: In smaller cities like Burbank and Culver City, redevelopment efforts are typically very focused. With so many areas in L.A. needing attention, how does the CRA decide where to focus?
Answer: There is no single CRA focus for Los Angeles, because this city is so diverse. There are many different focal points. The focus in South Los Angeles is completely different than the focus in downtown or the San Fernando Valley.
In South L.A., for example, our main focus is to bring new commercial development to the area. In downtown, because of limited funding available through tax increment financing, we are trying to bring new projects on line using an absolute minimum in public funds. And in the San Fernando Valley, our focus is to prevent investment from fleeing in places like Canoga Park and North Hollywood. It takes a tremendous force of will to remain focused on these different objectives.
Q: Right now, attention seems turned toward revitalizing Hollywood. What is the CRA's role in that?
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