http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2011/07/22/east-bay-cities-supporting-redevelopment-lawsuit


Pleasanton Weekly

News - July 22, 2011

East Bay cities supporting redevelopment lawsuit

Oakland leads appeal to overturn state measure aimed at scuttling agencies

by Jeb Bing

Most East Bay cities have joined the city of Oakland in a lawsuit to overturn state budget bills that would eliminate redevelopment agencies.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan addressed a rally Wednesday in support of the lawsuit, which is being filed before the state Supreme Court by the League of California Cities and the California Redevelopment Association.

Speaking along with other mayors at the Coliseum Transit Village in Oakland, directly behind the Coliseum BART station, Quan said the Transit Village project could not go forward without assistance from the city's Redevelopment agency. Over 100 construction jobs would be lost due to the cancellation of the project, she said.

Quan said that last November, state voters passed Proposition 22 by an overwhelming majority. The measure stopped state raids of local redevelopment funds.

"Despite this clear voter mandate, legislators passed and the governor signed AB 26 and 27 in blatant violation of Prop. 22 and the will of the voters," she said. "AB 26 would abolish redevelopment agencies and AB 27 would allow agencies to exist in some limited capacity only if they agreed to pay a 'ransom' payment of $1.7 billion statewide in the first year and $400 million statewide each year thereafter."

Although Pleasanton long ago decided against forming a redevelopment agency, the city as a member of the League of California Cities is supporting the league's position. It is not part of the lawsuit, however, and is not contributing to any legal fees the league incurs.

"We are a member of the League of California Cities and support all of its legislative efforts to maintain local control," explained City Manager Nelson Fialho.

"While we are not affected by the RDA elimination, we oppose all attempts by the state to reduce local control in the areas of land use, city finances and other operational matters that are important to sustaining a quality community like Pleasanton."

In a scathing report on redevelopment agencies in California last March, State Controller John Chiang cited millions of dollars in waste, misappropriation of funds and poor management of programs intended to help blighted areas.

The results of the five-week, limited-scope review of 18 redevelopment agencies across the state, found no reliable means to measure the impact of redevelopment activity on job growth. He said the agencies either do not track their impact or their methodologies lack uniformity and are often arbitrary.

The review exposed the difficulty of holding RDAs accountable for their funding decisions when existing legal standards are so loose that any area can be deemed "blighted."

The report also identified several missed payments to school districts and widespread accounting and reporting deficiencies, questionable payroll practices, substandard audits, faulty loans and inappropriate use of affordable housing funds.

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