Looting Hawaiian Gardens
Executive Summary of JLAC Report: The "Gateway" Redevelopment Project in the City of Hawaiian Gardens: A Study in Redevelopment Abuse
by The Joint Legislative Audit Committee, State of California
Originally published 10 July 2000
in general release

The "Gateway" Redevelopment Project in the City of Hawaiian Gardens: A Study in Redevelopment Abuse

Almost two decades ago the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Hawaiian Gardens (Agency) began the process of developing a largely underutilized plot of prime commercial land in an effort to invigorate the local economy and eliminate blight in the community.

Today landowner/developer Irving Moskowitz (Moskowitz) has opened a card club on the site to compliment a bingo parlor that has been operating as a virtual monopoly by the Irving Moskowitz Foundation (IMF) for many years.

The JLAC has found that the history of the ìGatewayî redevelopment project is rife with questionable practices on the part of the Redevelopment Agency and the City of Hawaiian Gardens.  And in the course of the last two decades, through negligence and malfeasance, the Agency and the City have violated state law.

Although state law expressly prohibits redevelopment funds from being used to subsidize gaming facilities, the JLAC investigation has found that Moskowitz and his agents have effectuated this subsidy in concert with the City and Redevelopment Agency.

Evidence examined by JLAC staff has revealed a redevelopment agency that has:

  • 1) assisted a private landowner to systematically purchase and assemble land within the project area and allowed it to evolve into a gambling operation

  • 2)  displaced and/or eliminated viable commercial entities that had been located on the site during the process

  • 3)  apparently violated state laws in the establishment of this gaming facility.

Further, evidence has demonstrated that the City of Hawaiian Gardens has received and continues to receive substantial cash payments and loans from Moskowitz-controlled entities, apparently for its support of the venture.

A city that embarked on an economic revitalization effort almost 20 years ago has little to show for its efforts save for an inappropriate gaming establishment, approximately $12 million in expenditures of public funds, and financial dependence on the goodwill of one owner/developer who is operating an illegally-subsidized gaming operation.

Hawaiian Gardens provides an example of what can go wrong, when redevelopment is manipulated or used for the benefit of one individual rather than for the benefit of the community as a whole.  The "Gateway" project history categorically establishes the need for stricter oversight of community redevelopment agencies and their practices.

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