Redevelopment agencies were dealt a statewide hit after a unanimous ruling Dec. 29 by the California Supreme Court decided not only that lawmakers had the ability to terminate the agencies, but that those agencies could not continue forward with redevelopment projects as smaller entities.
Assembly Bills 1X 26, which eliminates redevelopment agencies but makes existing redevelopment housing projects an “enforceable obligation," and 1X 27, which would have required agencies to make payments to the state of California in exchange for continuing to exist in smaller form, both came under scrutiny by the state Supreme Court. AB26 was upheld, but AB27 was considered illegal.
While large-scale redevelopment projects in San Francisco have generated no shortage of criticism and controversy, Mayor Ed Lee described the decision as disappointing and harmful for the city's future.
“Redevelopment has not only played a critical role in creating jobs, transforming disadvantaged communities and delivering affordable housing, but it has spurred economic growth for our entire City at a time when we needed it most,” Lee said in a statement issued earlier today.
Gov. Jerry Brown introduced the idea of eliminating redevelopment agencies about a year ago as part of budget cuts designed to revitalize the state economy, as the Guardian reported last January. Today’s decision, which leaves the state with $1.7 billion more to work with in the first year of implementation of this plan, may help cushion the blow as state legislators seek to balance the budget.
However, the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency isn't giving up.
“We are aggressively looking at solutions, most likely a legislative fix, to provide for redevelopment to continue,” S.F. Redevelopment Agency executive director, Tiffany Bohee, told the Guardian. “The state will do what it needs to do to fill the hole [in the state budget] but there are unintended consequences.”
Private funding from companies like Lennar Homes supplementing state funding has made the continuation of redevelopment projects in San Francisco's Mission Bay, Bayview Hunters Point Shipyard, and Treasure Island possible. Lee maintains that these areas will remain unaffected.
The legislation does, however, affect future projects. "We call on the state to find a legislative solution to this problem" Lee's statement noted. "And while we are committed to working with the state, we have already started to look at local solutions and alternatives."
Bohee echoed the mayor's resolve. “We are committed to the long haul and focused on what the next steps are,” she said.