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As California’s redevelopment Mardi Gras finishes its first week, the city of San Diego is getting closer to joining the party.
City Councilman Kevin Faulconer is asking the council to approve a resolution Monday that would oppose new Gov. Jerry Brown’s plans to eliminate redevelopment agencies statewide. Faulconer represents downtown, the city’s most prominent redevelopment area, where the city has plans to fund numerous projects with redevelopment dollars.
“The governor’s plan would have a devastating effect on San Diegans at a time when numerous working families and small businesses are struggling to make ends meet,” Faulconer said in a statement. “It’s not San Diego’s job to bail out the state, which should tackle its own spending and runaway pension costs.”
Though Brown’s proposal has significant complications, it would allow the state to stop subsidizing schools for property taxes lost through redevelopment, saving the state an estimated $1.7 billion next year. After that, Brown wants redevelopment property taxes to return to the day-to-day budgets of cities and counties.
But since last Friday, cities and counties across the state have rushed to squirrel away more than $1 billion in redevelopment funds. The cities and counties are hoping to make the redevelopment dollars untouchable, though it’s unclear how much of a commitment they’re making to future projects. We’ve been referring to the moves as redevelopment “Mardi Gras”, a redevelopment spending party before the ability to spend goes away.
Faulconer’s spokesman, Tony Manolatos, said the councilman is exploring the legalities behind having San Diego follow other cities’ lead.
“Potentially that could be the direction that we go,” Manolatos said. “For now, we just wanted to get something on the record.”
Brown addressed Mardi Gras publicly for the first time Wednesday at a meeting of California city leaders. From the Los Angeles Times:
Gov. Jerry Brown implored a gathering of city officials Wednesday to work with him on efforts to balance the state budget, even as his proposal to shut down local redevelopment agencies, saving about $1.7 billion, appeared to be in trouble in the Legislature.
Speaking to about 200 city leaders, Brown made the case for setting priorities in an era of budget austerity. The subsidies for builders that are involved in redevelopment efforts are less pressing than school classrooms or firefighters, he said.
“If we don’t do redevelopment, then what do we take?” Brown asked. “Do we take more from the university? Do we start cutting into the public schools which have been cut year after year?”
In the meantime, San Diego County has sued the state over a controversial redevelopment law passed in the waning moments of state budget talks last October. The law allows the continued siphoning of downtown San Diego’s property taxes away from the county. The county has agreed to continue negotiating with the city for an out of court settlement. The state is amenable to the same deal, said Tim Barry, a county attorney. But the county filed the suit on Friday to preserve its legal rights.
The county suit is the third filed against the legislation, which effectively allows downtown redevelopment to continue 20 years longer than it would have otherwise.