A bill that would permit the City of Industry to extend its redevelopment plan's effectiveness for 10 years appears to have died when the bill's author, Sen. Gloria Romero (D-East Los Angeles), pulled SB 1771 before a scheduled mid-April committee hearing.
Rumors had circulated at the Capitol for months that Industry sought to extend its redevelopment powers without having to make updated blight findings, as required by current law. Industry reportedly sought the extension to help fund construction of a professional football stadium on 600 acres owned by developer Ed Roski Jr. Industry officials and Roski have denied there is any connection between redevelopment and the stadium. However, the day after the Senate Local Government Committee was scheduled to consider SB 1771, Roski revealed stadium plans at a press conference.
Originally, SB 1771 was a Sen. Alex Padilla (D-San Fernando Valley) bill concerning credit counseling for homeowners. But the legislation was overhauled on April 10 to permit Industry's redevelopment activities to continue for an additional 10 years. Without the extension, Industry would have to start shutting down redevelopment activities in about four years. Industry's redevelopment agency had revenues of $98 million during the 2005-06 fiscal year, according to the state controller's office.
An unusually long bill analysis for the Senate Local Government Committee raised questions about the legislation, which would permit Industry to sidestep existing legal provisions regarding blight findings and funding for affordable housing. "SB 1771 uncouples the half-century-old policy consensus that requires local officials to document blight before they can get their hands on the property tax revenues that ordinarily go to other local governments, especially school districts," the analysis said.
In a letter to the committee, Christine Minnehan, a lobbyist for the Western Center on Law and Poverty, wrote, "Current law permits all activities sought in SB 1771 if blight — the justification for redevelopment — remains. SB 1771 eviscerates existing law and invites more public outcry against redevelopment."
The football stadium is proposed for 600 acres of vacant land at the junction of the 60 and 57 freeways, a location where Industry approved Roski's proposed 4.8 million-square-foot industrial development in 2004. That project has not gone forward. Now Roski proposes a 75,000-seat stadium, a 5,000-seat concert venue, 1.5 million square feet of office buildings and nearly a 1 million square feet of retail shops and restaurants. The site is not within a redevelopment project area.
When 5.7 million people say they want to shield local funding from grabbing hands – as they did in November -- that should be the end of the story. At least, that's what California's redevelopment agencies would hope after this annus horribilis in the redevelopment world.
Forced into negotiations by the state Legislature, the City of Walnut has dropped its lawsuit contesting the adequacy of an environmental impact report for a proposed professional football stadium and 3 million-square-foot entertainment complex in the neighboring City of Industry.
Proposals to extend the life of redevelopment project areas for as long as 40 years continue to float around the state Capitol as part of a budget-balancing package. Meanwhile, the City of Industry, a likely proponent of the redevelopment extension, is moving ahead with a $500 million infrastructure bond to assist a football stadium.
A proposed 400,000-square-foot convention center and 2,000-room resort hotel that was supposed to anchor the redevelopment of Chula Vista's waterfront is dead, but the demise of the convention center and hotel could open up the site to potential development of a San Diego Chargers football stadium. The Chargers have been seeking a location for a stadium and related commercial development and have considered two other sites in Chula Vista.
In a follow-up to a report issued last year, the state controller's office has determined that K-12 school districts understated the amount of pass-through payments received from redevelopment agencies by $105 million in the 2005-06 fiscal year, and community college districts underreported by $8.2 million. The errors caused the state to backfill $17.8 million to K-12 districts and $3.9 million to the colleges that the state did not owe.
The City of Half Moon Bay has reached a settlement agreement with a developer who won a takings lawsuit against the city. Last December, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker awarded developer Charles Keenan $36.8 million in damages, plus interest and attorney's fees, because an incomplete city drainage project had transformed an approved 24-acre housing project site into an unbuildable wetland (see CP&DR In Brief, January 2008).
Among the roughly 400 redevelopment agencies that will shut down tomorrow, the vast majority have effectively elected to dig their own graves. That was one of the stipulations of AB X1 26, that cities may serve as their own successor agencies, which will oversee the wind-down of operations, liquidation of assets, and payment of outstanding obligations.
As with so many trends, the use of tax-increment financing for redevelopment began in California. Since being created here in 1952, this vital aspect of redevelopment has spread to 48 other states. And yet if Gov. Jerry Brown's current budget proposal passes, it may very well die in the state where it was born.
It is not going quietly.
In the two weeks since Brown announced his intention to eliminate redevelopment in California as part of his proposal to cut the state's $24 billion deficit, what used to be a relatively obscure system intended to eradicate blight has been thrust into tumultuous debate.
In Year Three of the Great Recession, it's comforting to think that California has heard all the bad news it's going to hear. Or at least we're so accustomed to bad news, that we've stopped getting depressed by it. As a result, many of this year's top stories come with silver linings.
The no-growth vs. slow-growth vs. build-everything debate has become a faint murmur, since not much of anything is getting built anyway. What is getting built, though, is generally pleasing to the smart growth crowd.
Fans of infrastructure development have surely cheered the progress on projects like High Speed Rail and Los Angeles Metro's 30/10 Initiative. Then again, skeptics may be assuring themselves that these projects will never get built.
The second and final phase of the Playa Vista development near Playa del Rey appears headed toward approval in early 2010, as the Los Angeles Planning Commission recommended approval of the project earlier this month.
A City of West Hollywood moratorium on new multi-family housing development has been declared invalid by the Second District Court of Appeal. The court ruled that the city had not made required findings for the moratorium.