Assembly bill clarifies redevelopment wind-down
March 27, 2012
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – The state Assembly passed a bill Monday aimed at helping cities cope with the elimination of redevelopment agencies.
It would give local governments some of the responsibilities formerly held by community redevelopment agencies and clarify how the agencies should be dissolved.
Gov. Jerry Brown eliminated about 400 redevelopment agencies last year run by cities and counties.
AB1585, which passed 56-7, would allow agencies to make good on some previous obligations and allow local governments to use redevelopment money to build affordable housing.
The bill, introduced by Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, also cleans up technical issues involved in winding down the agencies, which have been used for local construction projects since the 1940s.
Brown, a Democrat, proposed abolishing the agencies last year to help close the state’s deficit. His budget diverted tax revenue that has historically gone to the agencies to schools and other local programs.
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The Legislature passed a compromise measure that would have allowed the agencies to continue as long as they dedicated money to local services.
Cities and a statewide redevelopment association filed a lawsuit with the California Supreme Court to protect themselves from the state raid. The court struck down the Legislature’s compromise measure, but upheld Brown’s elimination of the agencies.
Among other things, Perez’s bill would preserve $1.4 billion in redevelopment money for affordable housing. Cities would have to spend the money within four years or risk losing it.
“This bill is very tightly focused,” Perez told the Assembly. “It deals with an issue that the overwhelming majority of members in this chamber have addressed – the need to serve some of the core functions” of redevelopment agencies.
Several Republican lawmakers spoke against the bill, arguing that it would deprive school districts and other local agencies of much-needed money
“I think this just goes too far,” said Assemblyman Chris Norby, R-Fullerton. He encouraged lawmakers to weigh the importance of subsidizing housing against the importance of subsidizing public education.
Cities have argued that it did not make sense for the state to eliminate redevelopment agencies because they create jobs and eliminate blight. The League of California Cities has called the Perez bill a step in the right direction.
The legislation now moves to the Senate as an urgency measure.