Brian Peterson, president of the Grantville Action Group, passed along a YouTube clip from a press conference last week where Peterson, state Sen. Chris Kehoe and Marti Emerald, city council member, spoke.

They were talking about this controversial redevelopment money transfer between Grantville and downtown that was struck last summer:

The settlement involves a complicated series of financial transfers in order to satisfy the county’s worry that it would lose out on tax money that would go into the city’s new zone. It sends $31.36 million in Grantville redevelopment dollars to the city for improvements along the C Street trolley line in downtown. In turn, $31.36 million from the downtown redevelopment area goes to improvements to county-owned land as part of plans to renovate the North Embarcadero.

Another $7.8 million would be set aside to fund part of the joint projects and the payments would begin to be made in 2012. The settlement means the county retains about 80 percent of the taxes it was poised to lose if redevelopment went forward unhindered in Grantville.

In September, Kehoe asked Attorney General Jerry Brown to investigate the transfer. Erstwhile City Attorney Mike Aguirre added his support to Kehoe’s request. But Brown said the settlement wasn’t illegal.

Now Kehoe has drafted legislation to close the loophole, saying in the press conference that it would:

… tighten up the state’s redevelopment law and make sure that no other community goes through what Grantville has been put through in their redevelopment experience. …

When [redevelopment is] used right, it can benefit a community. But when it’s used wrong, I get frustrated, and I think things need to change. … The loopholes that allowed this money transfer from Grantville to downtown, they must be closed. This is not fair to the taxpayers of Grantville.

Kehoe’s legislation would require city councils to make more explicit findings of a connection between two communities where redevelopment revenue would be transferred. It would allow the public to challenge such transfer decisions in court, and would require officials to document how the installation of a benefit outside of the community (like trolleys downtown) would directly fight and eliminate blight in the community where the money came from.

This coming weekend, city planners will hold a workshop for the public to contribute ideas and learn about potential plans for the community of Grantville. Here’s a flyer from the city if you’re interested.

KELLY BENNETT

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