A little publicized reorganization is in the making. This year, the Redevelopment Agency will be hire a new executive director for the city administered redevelopment areas, create a new citizen advisory body, and separate the agency from the city’s hiring and contracting procedures.

As the Redevelopment Agency is being restructured, this is an opportune moment to study the entire agency’s mission, its programs, and the link between the agency’s mission and programs. It is also an opportune moment to consider including the semi-private Pete Wilson corporations in this structure, or applying standard policies throughout the agency.

In Los Angeles, the Controller Laura Chick did extensive performance audits and financial audits of the Community Redevelopment Agency, which has resulted in the agency being significantly more accountable and proactive in meeting community needs. We can take lessons from some of the organizational and policy changes up north.

The consultant for San Diego’s agency restructuring recommended the following Best Management Practices (Focused Study of Redevelopment Practices) on Project Selection and Prioritization:

1. Adopt an agency-specific mission statement to drive agency actions.
2. Develop specific, measurable redevelopment goals that relate to the Agency’s mission.
3. Prioritize agency goals to balance economic/financial returns and social benefits.
4. Evaluate prospective projects relative to achieving identified goals and priorities.
5. Implement a project-level investment policy.

Redevelopment is a tool to solve difficult problems in blighted areas. Administering redevelopment is a difficult job since it involves planning, entitlement as well as appropriation of public dollars for private development. It involves deal-making, rather than solely regulating or granting. The agency needs to restore trust, credibility and functionality so that it can maximize benefits for the community.

— MURTAZA BAXAMUSA

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