Pleasanton years ago decided against establishing a redevelopment agency and Dublin never had one. In Pleasanton's case, voters rejected proposals to establish an RDA that would fund improvements, such as new sewers and housing, in the downtown district, with the area to be covered extending to what is now the Raley's shopping center and west to include homes and apartments on West Angela and other downtown side streets. After those measures were defeated, the City Council determined that to pay for capital improvements, it would methodically set up a Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) segment in the annual budget, identifying and prioritizing these projects each January. Funding would be limited to only as much money as tax revenues would allow. Only three debt-financed projects were approved: the Pleasanton Library 25 years ago, the Pleasanton Senior Center and the $40 million Callippe Preserve golf course. Last month, the city used money from its reserve funds to fully pay down all debt obligations for the golf course, leaving the city free of debt for construction projects.
Livermore and a number of other California cities that established redevelopment agencies and borrowed in advance for major projects now have to determine how to repay those obligations. In Livermore's case, since the multi-story, 2,000-seat performing arts center was never built, outstanding costs are for preliminary planning. The City Council there earlier approved tapping into the General Fund to pay upfront costs while the court was deciding its appeal.
At the time Pleasanton voters rejected establishing a redevelopment agency, some thought that would put the city at a competitive disadvantage. It may have. Surveys show shoppers and others travel to Livermore's redeveloped and robust First Street and the vibrant Bankhead Theater. There were also calls to build a 1,700-seat performing arts center as part of a Cultural Arts complex in the Bernal Community Park, but studies showed a major theater just wouldn't be self-sustaining. Livermore's proposed theater, even farther away from the large population centers of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose was considered even less sustainable in a study by local analysts.
The Firehouse Arts Center and theater were built as part of the city's policy to have the funds available before signing off on capital improvement projects. It's a policy that has served our city well.
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