Council to consider resolution supporting redevelopment

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – City Councilman Kevin Faulconer put forth a proposed resolution Thursday to oppose plans by Gov. Jerry Brown to eliminate redevelopment districts to ease budget strains on local governments.

The City Council is expected to discuss the issue on Monday. “The governor's plan would have a devastating effect on San Diegans at a time when numerous working families and small businesses are struggling to make ends meet,” Faulconer said.

Redevelopment districts siphon off a portion of tax revenues generated by their projects and spend it on future construction.

Brown wants to eliminate the districts so the money going to them would be redirected to the cities' general funds, easing the budget crunches of recent years.

The governor's office cited a report by the Legislative Analyst's Office that found redevelopment costs have grown dramatically, with no reliable evidence the program improves the state's overall economic performance.

Faulconer said San Diego has made far more money from redevelopment than it has lost.

“Redevelopment has been a remarkable success in San Diego,” said Faulconer, whose district stretches from downtown to southern La Jolla.

“Downtown generates $60 million a year in hotel and sales tax because of successful redevelopment efforts,” he said. “That money goes into the city's general fund and pays for services, including parks, police, fire and libraries, in every neighborhood across San Diego.”

The city's redevelopment agency, along with the Centre City Development Corp. and Southeastern Development Corp., oversee 17 redevelopment districts, including downtown, Barrio Logan, City Heights, College Grove, the former Naval Training Center, North Park and San Ysidro.

In the 35 years since the CCDC was established to oversee the revitalization of downtown, a public investment of $1.54 billion has prompted private spending of $12.8 billion, according to the resolution.

“If these dollars are diverted to Sacramento in a misguided attempt to try and fix the state's chronic budget deficit, then the effect on San Diego would be devastating, and our region stands to lose billions of dollars in investment, thousands of jobs and countless neighborhood projects and improvements,” the resolution states.

The City Council is being asked to express its opposition to Brown's plans, and to direct the city clerk to send a copy of the resolution to the governor's office.

City Councilman Todd Gloria expressed support for the resolution. The debate over redevelopment too often focuses on downtown or the Chargers stadium project, but it has been particularly successful in lower- income neighborhoods, he said.

Gloria said several blocks around University Avenue and 30th Street in North Park have been transformed in recent years by a redevelopment project at the Birch North Park Theatre and adjacent parking garage.

That was “a catalyst” for a number of new restaurants and breweries to open nearby, all through private investment, creating jobs and boosting tax revenue, according to Gloria.

Cities across the state have rushed through approvals of redevelopment projects in the past week, some even holding special meetings on Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Faulconer said he is working on plans to ensure funding for a number of local projects that would be threatened by the governor's proposal, including the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan at the waterfront, Horton Plaza Park, Bayside Fire Station and a permanent homeless shelter.

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