So much for redevelopment’s legislative tower of power. Seven local legislators have responded to our survey about Gov. Jerry Brown’s desire to kill redevelopment, and only one is a definite vote to preserve it.
Here’s the total tally: Two state senators are firm votes against redevelopment. One seems ready to tip against it. Among local assembly members, one will support redevelopment but is open to doing away with it over time; another is leaning against it. Two other legislators punted and declined to say how they’ll vote.
• Sen. Juan Vargas, Democrat and former San Diego City Council member who represents parts of the South Bay: He’s a maybe. “Redevelopment agencies have helped improve the quality of life in many parts of my district … My budget priority is to protect vital services to the poor and elderly, and protect K-12 education. If I must vote to reform redevelopment agencies to protect our state’s most vulnerable residents, I will.”
• Sen. Joel Anderson, Republican who represents much of East County didn’t indicate how he’ll vote but said “some community redevelopments have been highly successful while others have led to gross abuses … I believe the key to moving forward is to ask: ‘Are we getting a proper return on the money we trust with government and is this the best value on services provided to Californians?’”
• Sen. Mark Wyland, a Republican who represents much of North County, will support the governor: “Given the fiscal situation and the depth of cuts necessary to balance this budget, we need the revenue from redevelopment.”
• Sen. Christine Kehoe, a Democrat who represents a giant chunk of San Diego, will support the governor’s plan: “His proposal is one way to address our deficit. If we have to choose between funding our schools or funding a downtown stadium, I support our schools. Maybe it’s time for redevelopment needs to be funded locally.”
• Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, a Republican who represents parts of Orange County and North San Diego County and formerly served as mayor of Dana Point, will oppose the governor: While she’s not a proponent of redevelopment and said it’s been abused, she says “cities have budgeted counting on redevelopment funds.”
She’s calling for a 20 percent spending cut across the board instead. “I could also concede to not allowing future redevelopment agencies to form, or terminating the agencies at some future date, allowing those affected to have time to position and plan for the future,” she said.
• Assemblyman Ben Hueso, a Democrat and former San Diego City Council member who represents much of the South Bay, declined to say how he’ll vote. But a spokesperson said in a statement that he “believes everything has to be on the table for consideration given the unprecedented budget shortfalls. We have a few community coffees and events coming up where he hopes to hear from residents re the budget before making a decision.”
• Assemblyman Marty Block, a Democrat who represents parts of San Diego is leaning against redevelopment: “Redevelopment has its benefits to places like San Diego, but we need to prioritize where we spend our scarce resources. Although I have deep concerns about the impact on affordable housing and long-term job growth, I am leaning toward supporting the governor’s plan because it means that the few resources we have will go to fund other critical services like schools and child care.”
These local answers don’t predict how the full state Legislature will vote, but the survey clearly shows that redevelopment is vulnerable on both sides of the aisle. Downtown San Diego’s revitalization has been used as a poster child of success for redevelopment. In recent years, though, San Diego has also seen a series of redevelopment scandals and abuses. Currently, city leaders are eyeing redevelopment funds for the expansion of the Convention Center and a new football stadium downtown.
The offices of several other local assembly members said they’re working on answers to the voiceofsandiego.org survey. Stay tuned for an update.