Looking to patch the cracks in California's state budget, legislators look to take funds from cities redevelopment agencies as temporary filler. Statewide, more than $1.3 billion will be transferred from redevelopment accounts to state government coffers. For San Diego redevelopment agencies, that translates to a $55 million money grab.
At the September 10 Budget and Finance Committee meeting, Janice Weinrick, deputy director of the San Diego Redevelopment Agency and board member for the California Redevelopment Association, told the five committee members that the board plans to file a lawsuit to prevent the transfer of those funds. However, that lawsuit could take years to develop.
In the meantime, the City's redevelopment agencies will be digging into their pockets and shelling out cash. For Centre City Redevelopment Corporation that means $40 million, for the City's Redevelopment Division it's around $13 million, and for the Southeastern Redevelopment Corporation, they'll have $2 million less spending cash.
And while councilmembers Todd Gloria, Marti Emerald, Kevin Faulconer, and Budget and Finance Committee chair Tony Young appeared sympathetic to Weinrick's report on the raid on redevelopment, budgetary watchdog Carl DeMaio didn't show much compassion.
"This is going to impact our communities. We're talking about delayed projects; we're talking about affordable housing that won't be secure because of this $55 million dollar hit. At the same time, as a city council we have adopted practices where this year we'll be spending from our redevelopment funds."
DeMaio delivered a list of projects that he thinks are a waste of time and money and should be directed to more urgent needs in the community: $700,000 for a study on a downtown library, close to another million on a new city hall, a $15 million loan to the Port of San Diego for phase one of the North Embarcadero redevelopment project.
"At some point, my friends, we have to stop thinking of these redevelopment funds as free money...$700,000 here, a million here, a couple million there, and suddenly you have monies that could cushion the blow from our communities. We're not talking about frills; we're talking about basic infrastructure.
"The state is being absolutely irresponsible in raiding our redevelopment funds, but we must also point the finger locally, to our own abuse of redevelopment dollars as though it's Monopoly money."