In the lead-up to our public forum about redevelopment on Monday, I asked a couple of our panelists what they thought people should know about redevelopment but don’t.

What’s the one important thing you want attendees to know?

Erik Bruvold, founding president of the National University System Institute for Policy Research: Redevelopment has created new jobs in the region but they have been lower-wage jobs. It is a key dilemma in most of California’s redevelopment efforts.

Vladimir Kogan, co-author of the upcoming book Paradise Plundered: Fiscal Crisis and Governance Challenges in San Diego and former voiceofsandiego.org reporter: Continuing redevelopment will result in cuts to other programs — including core services such as public protection, aid for the poor and disabled, and our schools.

What don’t people know about redevelopment and affordable housing that they should know?

Erik: Much of what is counted as economic development is simply the shifting of jobs serving the local market (retail, entertainment). These services would still be consumed, just perhaps not downtown.

Vlad: Redevelopment actually represents a subsidy in the billions of dollars from the state to local governments. So when the state proposes eliminating redevelopment, it’s not a “state raid” on local funds or “Sacramento not being able to deal with its own problems and stealing from local governments.” Rather, it’s the state making a rational, thoughtful, and reasoned decision that it can no longer afford to subsidize redevelopment to the extent it has historically.

Other thoughts?

Erik: Redevelopment really is a debate between the kind of California we want — a low-wage California (with perhaps lower unemployment) or a higher-wage California (but where admittedly there will be many Californians that may not find opportunities given lower educational attainment).

Vlad: Overall, we need to analyze the following:

1. What proportion of the “tax increment” (property tax dollars collected by redevelopment agencies in San Diego) between 2000 and 2009 has been due to redevelopment, and how much of it was “diverted” from other local governments?
2. What proportion of new jobs created inside redevelopment areas were actually caused by redevelopment?
3. How many affordable housing units (and what type) have been built by San Diego County redevelopment agencies since 1990?
4. How much unspent money currently sits in the affordable housing funds controlled by San Diego County redevelopment agencies?

We’ll be looking for answers to these questions and more on Monday at the forum.

Grant Barrett, engagement editor for voiceofsandiego.org: grant@voiceofsandiego.org or (619) 550-5666 or @grantbarrett on Twitter.

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