San Bernardino leaders to discuss Carousel Mall redevelopment law violations

San Bernardino leaders will convene behind closed doors April 5 to discuss how to address four violations outlined by a top state official concerning the city’s handling of the Carousel Mall redevelopment in 2021.

In a meeting Wednesday, March 22, Councilmembers Theodore Sanchez, Fred Shorett and Kimberly Calvin, who comprise an ad-hoc committee focused on the latest goings-on at the shuttered shopping center, decided to bring the issues raised in a March 16 letter to city brass to the full City Council for discussion.

Elected officials will provide input and direction on how to proceed during the April 5 closed session, city spokesman Jeff Kraus wrote in an email Thursday.

Mayor Helen Tran, who was not in charge at the time of the violations, said in a statement she was “extremely disappointed” in the charges.

“Although I cannot speak to what has happened in the past,” she continued, “please rest assured that the City is taking immediate and appropriate steps to cure any and all violations so that we can continue the much-needed progress of our city.

“Accountability,” she said, “is critical to our city’s success.”

In short, San Bernardino officials violated four state laws in 2021 as they planned to redevelop the Carousel Mall property.

In his letter, David Zisser, assistant deputy director for the state Department of Housing and Community Development, explained how the city erred in negotiating with prospective developers before declaring the downtown site surplus land; in failing to negotiate with affordable housing developers who had expressed interest in acquiring the land; in failing to prioritize affordable housing; and withholding key information in paperwork submitted to the state agency as part of the redevelopment process.

Top San Bernardino officials who were a part of those decisions two years ago are no longer at City Hall.

In her statement, Tran assured residents “our city council and city management are doing everything possible to cure the issues and concerns to ensure that we are compliant and transparent.”

Something Better for San Bernardino, a coalition of community groups, encourages city leadership to use the matter “as a means to take strong action on addressing our community’s housing needs,” Christian Flores, housing organizer with Inland Congregations United for Change, said in a statement, “and to do their due diligence in contributing to resolving California’s housing crisis.”

San Bernardino has until May 15 to cure all violations or the state will assess penalties on any proceeds from the sale of the Carousel Mall property.

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