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Statement: “Our discussions have been complicated by the elimination of redevelopment funds,” Mayor Jerry Sanders said in an Aug. 10 statement to Fox 5 about a proposed downtown football stadium for the Chargers.
Determination: Mostly True
Analysis: The Chargers and some city leaders have proposed to tap redevelopment money for a downtown NFL stadium. Millions of dollars of property taxes funnel into the pot of public money each year rather than going to schools and other local government agencies. It’s mainly used to subsidize development, fund affordable housing and improve rundown neighborhoods.
But this year, after months of discussion and negotiation, state lawmakers approved two options for future redevelopment: City leaders could either kill it or agree to give schools some of those property taxes.
That’s complicated what’s already been a nearly decade-long search for a stadium financing plan here.
The finality of Sanders’ description of redevelopment in San Diego and the absence of any surrounding context merits clarification, though.
To begin, redevelopment funds aren’t gone. In designated redevelopment areas like downtown San Diego, a slice of property taxes still funnels to redevelopment agencies rather than schools and other local government agencies. That hasn’t changed.
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What could change is the amount of money sent to those agencies, like the Centre City Development Corp., leaving less money for proposals like a new football stadium.
How state lawmakers crafted the shift is why voiceofsandiego.org, Sanders and others sometimes use a word like “eliminated” to describe what happened. VOSD often used the phrase or similar ones like “killed redevelopment” because the laws would end redevelopment in one scenario.
The state approved two laws. The first eliminated all redevelopment agencies and the second law allowed agencies to resurrect themselves if they agree to shift millions to schools. With more local money paying for schools, the state’s costs drop.
The City Council voted in July to resurrect redevelopment. The shift is expected to cost about $70 million this year and $16 million each year thereafter. Redevelopment officials say those losses would delay or stop many projects in the immediate future while agencies use their remaining cash and reduced income to pay off debts and meet other obligations like affording housing rules.
The losses also complicate the Chargers’ stadium bid since the team wants the public to pitch in for some of the project’s $800 million cost. Stadium boosters had seen redevelopment as a big potential funding source. The team has now begun to look elsewhere for possible public contributions to the stadium financing.
For now, San Diego city officials and the Chargers are closely watching a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the two state laws. On Thursday, the state Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, putting the funding shift on hiatus for months and prohibiting redevelopment agencies from undertaking new obligations in the meantime.
We’ve stamped Sanders’ statement Mostly True since the stadium search has been complicated by the state technically eliminating redevelopment funds. But the state also created an avenue for cities to bring some of the money back. The second step is an important piece of context absent from Fox 5’s story about the Chargers’ stadium search, although even under that scenario it remains more complicated than it was before.
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Keegan Kyle is a news reporter for voiceofsandiego.org. He writes about public safety and handles the Fact Check Blog. What should he write about next?
Please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.550.5668. You can also find him on Twitter (@keegankyle) and Facebook.
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