BY KIMBERLY PIERCEALL
STAFF WRITER
kpierceall@pe.com

Published: 30 December 2011 07:21 PM

Leaders with three Inland groups overhauling former military bases say legislation that would dissolve the state’s redevelopment agencies doesn’t apply to them.

The legislation was upheld by the state’s Supreme Court on Thursday.

The Inland Valley Development Agency, which is overseeing the reuse of San Bernardino’s Norton Air Force Base into San Bernardino International Airport, is not a redevelopment agency, officials said.

It just has the powers of one given to it through special state legislation, said interim executive director A.J. Wilson.

Victorville Councilman Mike Rothschild, who is among city leaders managing the conversion of George Air Force Base into the Southern California Logistics Airport, agreed.

And the executive director of the March Joint Powers Authority, Lori Stone, said work to revive former March Air Force Base land in Riverside County shouldn’t be considered the same as other redevelopment projects because the former federal land had been exempt from property taxes until the agency took it over.

Based on legal opinions Wilson said he has seen, the law that would dissolve redevelopment agencies only applies to those created by cities and counties. The IVDA wasn’t, he said.

In 1990, state legislation allowed the creation of the IVDA to manage a redevelopment area extending three miles from Norton’s boundaries, calling it a “redevelopment agency” throughout the statute in the state’s Redevelopment Law Section (number 33320.5 before it was renumbered to 33492.40).

The same legislation includes the development of an agency to oversee the reuse of George Air Force Base and an 8-mile area surrounding it, now the Victor Valley Economic Development Authority.

“It is the intent of the Legislature and the commitment of the local authorities to ensure that the existing airfields at both Norton Air Force Base and George Air Force Base are protected, developed, and enhanced as civil aviation public use airports,” the section states. “Therefore, the joint powers authorities authorized by this section should make every reasonable effort to guarantee that these vital airport facilities are retained for general aviation use now and into the future.”

Still, the IVDA voted to sell a flurry of bonds — more than $150 million worth — earlier this year to assure projects such as improvements to the agency’s new headquarters and surrounding road improvements would be paid for if the legislation was upheld.

“Right now, if anything, our greater problem for our projects would be when we were partnering with one of our member’s redevelopment agencies,” Wilson said. He added that he wasn’t aware of any current projects that would be adversely affected because of that, “not where we’re so far in that it’s going to blow up something.”

San Bernardino County Supervisor Neil Derry, who is among several local elected leaders to sit on the agency’s governing board, said that even if the agency fights the ruling legally or with legislation to argue for exemption for military reuse, he didn’t expect the agency to win.

“I don’t think that’s going to hold. I think this is going to impact us as well as Victorville,” he said.

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