Statement: “Our little project area downtown — 1,500 acres — has generated as many affordable housing units in this city as the entire [Los Angeles] project areas combined,” Jeff Graham, vice president of redevelopment for the Centre City Development Corp., said at a Jan. 12 panel.
Analysis: Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies has pressured cities to make a case for their continued existence. Redevelopment is intended to help cities improve blighted areas, and Brown says it’s strayed from the mission.
In the midst of this debate, the revival of downtown San Diego, administered by CCDC over more than 35 years, is often cited as one of the state’s great redevelopment successes. At a Jan. 12 Urban Land Institute panel discussing local redevelopment and Brown’s proposal, Graham touted how much affordable housing CCDC helped build.
By law, redevelopment agencies are required to set aside at least 20 percent of its main funding — a slice of downtown property taxes — for affording housing projects. Lawmakers pushed for the mandatory funding decades ago to make sure redevelopment benefitted a cross-section of income levels and allowed for a greater diversity of people to live near commercial hubs.
“I think downtown San Diego has been one of the most successful models of affordable housing in the state,” Graham said. “Our little project area downtown — 1,500 acres — has generated as many affordable housing units in this city as the entire [Los Angeles] project areas combined.”
“As many,” he said again for emphasis.
CCDC oversees redevelopment efforts across 1,450 acres of downtown San Diego while the Los Angeles project areas cover more than 23,000 acres stretched across that sprawling city. Graham said CCDC helped build 3,600 affordable housing units downtown and another 960 units outside of downtown. The grand total: 4,560 units.
But contrary to Graham’s assertion, that total doesn’t come remotely close to matching efforts in Los Angeles. Its redevelopment agency boasts building 21,000 affordable housing units over time — more than four times as many as CCDC says it helped build in San Diego.
At the panel discussion, Graham said he got the information from a website that acts as a hub for Los Angeles redevelopment areas. The website says 4,547 affordable units are slated for construction there but doesn’t say how many units have been built over time.
We found the comparable information for Los Angeles by calling its redevelopment agency. It emailed us a pamphlet that contained the 21,000 total for affordable housing units.
We’ve called statement False since the Los Angeles total far exceeds the estimate Graham described through his comparison with CCDC.
After we gave Graham a copy of the Los Angles pamphlet, he acknowledged the error through a spokeswoman, Jennifer Davies. “He definitely made a mistake,” she said.
If you disagree with our determination or analysis, please express your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post. Explain your reasoning.