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Monday, Dec. 17, 2007 | For those of you not fortunate enough to have received Councilman Jim Madaffer’s holiday edition of his newsletter, below is an excerpt about Grantville redevelopment.

Grantville Master Plan — The Grantville Redevelopment Area is a viable means of providing major community infrastructure improvements without raising taxes. It is not about the threat of using eminent domain to take away homes as some alarmists would have you believe. In fact, there is not one home located within the Grantville redevelopment area. It is an incredible opportunity to reinvest property taxes that are already being paid in that area right back into that same area. It will be a boost for businesses and the customers they serve. It is the only viable means of providing traffic improvements on heavily used streets such as Mission Gorge Road and Alvarado Road address flooding problems along Alvarado Creek and the San Diego River as well as provide a new recreation center and a new Allied Gardens Branch Library. It would fund additional parks, a San Diego River Park, and hiking trails. The first thing on the to do list is hold community meetings to draft an update to the Navajo Community Plan for the Grantville area. That process is now underway.

As usual, the truth is shaded in such a way that calls for correction.

Nobody in Grantville believes that their home is directly threatened by eminent domain. Every business and commercial property in Grantville, however, is threatened. The “plan” for Grantville redevelopment, as published in early 2005, amounts to nothing more than delineating the Redevelopment Agency’s authority to remove property owners who do not conform to the Agency’s wishes. They warn us that they will notify us that a developer has their sights on our property and give us 60 days of coming up with a competing plan. Obviously, if your plan is to continue to conduct your business in its current location, you’re toast.

Redevelopment’s method for providing infrastructure improvements without raising taxes is to divert Grantville property tax revenues away from the city and county budgets into the Redevelopment Agency account (a.k.a. “tax increment”). The city and county budgets must pay for necessary services, such as fire and police. By law, tax increment may only be used to finance more redevelopment. In the end, Grantville redevelopment makes it even less likely that there will be more firefighters and police officers. There are no free rides. Revenue must be created elsewhere to cover the property tax diversion.

There are other viable means for providing traffic improvements in Grantville. Last year the city acquired a good share of Proposition 1B funds for relieving traffic congestion. The interchange at I-8 and Mission Gorge should be a priority for these funds. As of now, it is not. Also, recall that the only glimpse we have had for the real plans for Grantville are the “vision plans” from December 2006. These plans call for adding a minimum of 12,000 new residents to the Grantville redevelopment project area. How adding tens of thousands of potential automobile trips each day to Mission Gorge, Friars and Zion improves traffic is anyone’s guess.

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