The Morning Report
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Since January, Gov. Jerry Brown has had mayors on edge by saying he wanted to eliminate redevelopment statewide. But, without an actual proposal, it’s been difficult to understand what the effort does and doesn’t do.
Late this afternoon, Brown finally gave us those details, releasing proposed language for his plan.
On Monday, the city of San Diego is scheduled to commit $4 billion in future property taxes for redevelopment projects in an effort to lock up the money before the governor’s axe falls.
Now that Brown has released his bill, my most immediate question is, does the governor’s legislation allow the city to commit that money or does it invalidate any agreement? After all, he’d earlier said he’d honor existing agreements.
In short, I want to know if the city actually is committing $4 billion on Monday or signing a piece of paper that will disintegrate with a swipe of Brown’s pen.
I’ve cast a wide net for help. I’ve received different answers so far.
Marianne O’Malley, a director with the state Legislative Analyst’s Office, told me in an email that she didn’t know if San Diego’s agreement would be valid.
“It will depend on the nature of the San Diego redevelopment agency agreements,” O’Malley wrote. “Generally speaking, the language casts some doubt on the viability of contract made between a redevelopment agency and its host local government.”
Carroll Wills, a spokesman for state firefighters, told me in an email that proposals like San Diego’s “don’t appear to be invalidated, but the language extends the statute of limitations for challenging them from 90 days to 3 years.”
Wills, whose organization supports the governor’s proposal, added that further language in the bill could provide a basis defeating these agreements in court.
A spokeswoman for Mayor Jerry Sanders said the Mayor’s Office hadn’t reviewed the language yet.
Here’s the proposed language. If anyone else has ideas, post them in the comments section. I’ll update if and when I get more.
To recap, here’s what this fight is all about:
Redevelopment siphons property taxes away from schools, counties, cities and other local governments to improve rundown neighborhoods. Brown is arguing that the state cannot subsidize development at a time when schools and other core government services need money. But redevelopment backers argue that the process allows for job creation, affordable housing and stimulating growth that wouldn’t happen otherwise. Billions in property tax dollars are at stake every year.
In his plan to kill redevelopment, the governor has said he will honor existing agreements. That’s caused municipalities across the state, like San Diego, to accelerate projects in the works.
An enthusiastic hat tip to John Myers, Sacramento bureau chief of KQED public radio, for first tweeting the proposed bill language.
Update: I heard from the governor’s office Wednesday evening. Here’s spokesman Evan Westrup’s take: “The current proposal allows for a thorough review of the actions cities and redevelopment agencies have been taking to sequester and fast track funds. If violations of the law are found, subsequent action can be considered and/or pursued.” Westrup declined to elaborate further.