This morning the Governor presented a $127.4 billion state budget that, among other hefty budget cuts, would completely eliminate redevelopment agencies across the state. Figures quoted in the San Jose Mercury News last week estimate the cut will save roughly $5.5 billion in yearly property tax revenues statewide, which Governor Brown says will be returned to "schools, cities and counties and help pay for public safety, education and other services." While we doubt anyone will begrudge protecting funds designated for K-12 education, which has already taken huge hits in recent years, eliminating redevelopment will undoubtedly lead to some messy issues.
In the Bay Area alone, tax dollars funneled to redevelopment projects through agencies like SF Redevelopment and the San Jose Redevelopment Agency have been credited with rebuilding blighted neighborhoods in the midst of the ongoing economic crisis. While the definition of "blight" or whether a community needed restoration will always be disputed, projects like the Yerba Buena Center, the upcoming Transbay Terminal and renovations to the Metreon (including the Target we're all excited about) have all benefited from redevelopment funds. In the South Bay, these funds are crucial for major projects like the planned San Jose ballpark and the new football stadium in Santa Clara. In Oakland (where you'll remember Brown was mayor not too long ago), the Mercury News points out that projects like the transit hub near the Oakland Coliseum will cause a mess of legal headaches if redevelopment dollars dry up and the city is forced to back out of contracts with developers due to a lack of funding.
Aside from loss of funds that might attract new businesses (like say, bringing the Oakland A's to San Jose) or provide jobs through new development projects, there's also the issue of Proposition 22. Passed by the same voters who elected Brown back in November, Prop 22 prevents the state from taking local funds - meaning any move to from Sacramento to shut down local redevelopment agencies will likely be met with lawsuits. Of course, the proposed budget will still need to be approved by the State Legislature so nothing's final at this point. We'll have to wait and see if the Assembly and the State Senate see fit to protect redevelopment projects that are currently underway.
· Brown spares K-12 education, wants tax extension [SFGate]
· Jerry Brown's talk of ending redevelopment sparks fears, cheers around California [MercuryNews]