In early January, California’s new Governor, Jerry Brown, revealed his list of proposed budget cuts and among them was the elimination of all the redevelopment agencies in the state.
When Brown delivered his State Of The State address on Jan. 31 he elaborated further on his redevelopment proposal; “Redevelopment funds come directly from local property taxes that would otherwise pay for core city and county services such as police, fire protection, and care for the most vulnerable people in our society. It’s a matter of hard choices and I come down on the side of those who believe that core functions of government must be funded first. But be clear my plan protects the current redevelopment projects and supports all bond indebtedness of those redevelopment agencies.”
Locally, eight projects, with a total expected cost of $283 million, which are part of Santa Monica’s redevelopment agency’s fiscal year 2009-2010 through fiscal year 2013-2014 five-year implementation plan, have been moving forward.
In many cases the City has already received public input on these projects, the design process has been completed, or construction bids have gone out. But what constitutes “current projects” as Gov. Brown described them, is somewhat vague and a point of some debate among officials.
Phil Brock, chair person of Santa Monica’s recreation and parks commission, said from what he’s heard “if a project is already funded it will go forward,” so if the Governor abolishes the redevelopment agencies it will only effect future projects.
The eight local projects are:
• More than 300 affordable residences slated to be built or rehabilitated
• Improvements to Santa Monica High School’s recreational facilities, including facilities and pedestrian areas that could be jointly used by the public
• Development of Palisades Garden Walk, a six-acre public park planned to be built across from the Santa Monica Pier.
• Construction of the Pico Neighborhood Library, being developed in Virginia Avenue Park
• Creation of the Civic Center Early Childhood Development Center, a partnership with Santa Monica College designed to serve infants and toddlers
• Improvements related to the Exposition Light Rail line that is coming to Santa Monica, including station area improvements, pathway improvements, and pedestrian and bicycle connections,
• Renovation and seismic retrofitting of the landmark Santa Monica Civic Auditorium for performing arts and concerts
• Creation of a six-acre public park and cultural hub adjacent to the Civic Auditorium Park
Andy Agle, the City’s director of housing and economic development, said Santa Monica’s redevelopment agency and the City entered into a “cooperation agreement in August 2010 so that the City can do the projects.” On Jan. 17, the City Council voted on some reimbursement clean up actions that pertained to the agreement. These actions were similar in nature to actions taken by other cities throughout the state in order to try to keep local redevelopment funds from being taken by the state.
Santa Monica has four redevelopment areas – earthquake recovery, Downtown, Ocean Park 1A, and Ocean Park 1B – that generate property tax revenues to help fund projects in their areas.
Agle stressed these redevelopment cuts are “just a proposal.” Richard Bloom, Santa Monica’s mayor, has sent letters to Gov. Brown and our local legislators expressing the City’s opposition to the cuts. “Hopefully, the Governor will recognize how severe the cuts will be.”