San Diego to Brown: How You Like Them $4 Billion?

San Diego to Brown: How You Like Them $4 Billion?

Photo by Sam Hodgson

Mayor Jerry Sanders and Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone

 

San Diego is planning almost $4 billion in future redevelopment projects, the most audacious effort of any California city to combat Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to eliminate redevelopment.

The draft proposal, which was circulated around City Hall today, includes nearly $2.5 billion targeted for downtown. The list includes projects that wouldn’t start until as late as 2048.

San Diego’s proposal boosts the month-long fight between cities and Brown to unforeseen heights. Cities around the state have scrambled to protect redevelopment dollars from a potential state axe by selling bonds and, like San Diego is proposing, entering into complicated agreements to secure future property tax dollars without actually spending money now.

In his plan to kill redevelopment, the governor has said he will honor existing agreements. That’s caused municipalities across the state to accelerate projects in the works — though San Diego officials aren’t even sure if their plan will work.

Previously, Los Angeles and Long Beach have moved to put about $1 billion aside for future projects in their cities. Four billion dollars is something else.

“If it’s $4 billion in San Diego, I can’t think of anybody that would be bigger,” said John Shirey, head of the California Redevelopment Association, which represents redevelopment agencies statewide.

The largest single item on San Diego’s list is $1.1 billion for unspecified affordable housing built with downtown property taxes. Other high-profile projects long-targeted for redevelopment dollars won’t receive as much support as could be needed for them to be built.

The $800 million downtown Chargers stadium didn’t make the list, but an additional $150 million to clean the proposed site did. Also, the list includes only $14 million for a Convention Center expansion now estimated at $750 million.

 

 

Janice Weinrick, a city redevelopment official, said the list remained in progress.

“I’m still working on it,” she said.

But no more money could be added for projects like the Convention Center or the Chargers stadium because of public noticing requirements, she added. (A Chargers official has said he was OK with the stadium’s exclusion.)

Neighborhoods other than downtown will receive big slices of the redevelopment pie, too. North Bay in the city’s Midway district is targeted for $311 million in improvements, including $63 million to develop the Sports Arena site and $107 million for commercial development along Pacific Highway.

City Heights also is targeted for $220 million and the city’s southeastern neighborhoods $181 million.

City Council is scheduled to discuss the move on Feb. 28, and other redevelopment projects a day later.

Redevelopment siphons property taxes away from schools, counties, cities and other local governments to improve rundown neighborhoods. Brown is arguing that the state cannot subsidize development at a time when schools and other core government services need money. But redevelopment backers argue that the process allows for job creation, affordable housing and stimulating growth that wouldn’t happen otherwise.

The Governor’s Office criticized San Diego’s rush to secure the money.

“It is unfortunate that cities across the state are rushing to commit hundreds of millions of dollars to redevelopment at a time when they are also considering cuts to core services in order to close large budget deficits,” said Brown spokesman Gil Durán in a statement.

“State and local governments are in a severe budget crisis, and every available taxpayer dollar should be used for the highest priority core services.”

Shirey, the redevelopment association head, said he’s been telling local agencies to try to lock up as much funding as possible, but within reason. The plans should be for real, well thought out projects, he said.

Still, he understands why cities are acting as they are.

“These redevelopment agencies are responding to what the governor is proposing, which is death,” Shirey said. “Death is something you don’t recover from.”

Please contact Liam Dillon directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/dillonliam.

 

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Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon is senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He leads VOSD’s investigations and writes about how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next? Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

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18 comments
Richard Ross
Richard Ross subscribermember

My how "thoughtful1" when one considers where redevelopment tax increment funds really go. Paying off the mayor's campaign contributing developers. Growth of bureaucratic Redevelopment Agency goverment jobs, their salaries, pensions, rental office space and the new jobs for Creative Blight finding consultants. Yes, it's a California mechanism alright, a mechanism to divert money from the General Fund which pays for our Police, Firemen, Library and Rec Center hours. Need I mention maintaining our potholed streets? The true blight is the redevelopment agency and CCDC.

Activist
Activist

My how "thoughtful1" when one considers where redevelopment tax increment funds really go. Paying off the mayor's campaign contributing developers. Growth of bureaucratic Redevelopment Agency goverment jobs, their salaries, pensions, rental office space and the new jobs for Creative Blight finding consultants. Yes, it's a California mechanism alright, a mechanism to divert money from the General Fund which pays for our Police, Firemen, Library and Rec Center hours. Need I mention maintaining our potholed streets? The true blight is the redevelopment agency and CCDC.

Fred Logan
Fred Logan subscriber

We need investigative journalists that are willing to hammer away with the questions and citizens who will vote out and never vote again for those involved in these scams.

FredL29
FredL29

We need investigative journalists that are willing to hammer away with the questions and citizens who will vote out and never vote again for those involved in these scams.

Steve Kirby
Steve Kirby subscriber

Great--our "leadership" downtown desperately trying to squirrel away money for their cronies. I wonder what they're getting us into, now. Are buildings really more important than people?

Steve K
Steve K

Great--our "leadership" downtown desperately trying to squirrel away money for their cronies. I wonder what they're getting us into, now. Are buildings really more important than people?

Dale Peterson
Dale Peterson subscribermember

Jerry Sanders and Jay Goldstone are completely engaged on this one. Must be very important business for his primary constituents (about 2% of the electorate). Could we receive this sort of attention for audits, street improvements (pot holes), and labor cost reductions? Easy to see that the Sanders administration can accomplish some things if it benefits the "right group of people."

Dale Peterson
Dale Peterson

Jerry Sanders and Jay Goldstone are completely engaged on this one. Must be very important business for his primary constituents (about 2% of the electorate). Could we receive this sort of attention for audits, street improvements (pot holes), and labor cost reductions? Easy to see that the Sanders administration can accomplish some things if it benefits the "right group of people."

Janet Shelton
Janet Shelton subscriber

The more things change, the more they stay the same--French proverb.

myearth
myearth

The more things change, the more they stay the same--French proverb.

Michael Russell
Michael Russell subscriber

Wow! Thanks for the PDF! Look at those budgets, the minimum anti is $5-million! I got to start a construction company.

philosopher3000
philosopher3000

Wow! Thanks for the PDF! Look at those budgets, the minimum anti is $5-million! I got to start a construction company.