Santa Monica city officials have taken issue with Gov. Jerry Brown’s state budget proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies, saying the move would prevent several planned community projects from happening.
Under his state budget plan released earlier this month, Brown proposes to cut spending by $12.5 billion. The proposal includes changing the role that state and local governments play in local development activities by phasing out the current funding mechanism for redevelopment agencies. A spokesperson for Brown said the plan would return billions in property tax revenues to schools, cities and counties and help pay for public safety, education and other services.
But Santa Monica officials say that the elimination of the Santa Monica Redevelopment Agency would have severe negative impacts on the city.
“Redevelopment is California’s primary engine for supporting jobs, reinforcing the economy, funding affordable housing, and building infrastructure,” City Manager Rod Gould said. “With an unemployment rate of more than 12 percent, a massive infrastructure deficit, and state policies promoting infill development, California needs redevelopment more than ever to create a stronger and greener tomorrow.”
Officials expressed concern that a number of planned community projects in Santa Monica and associated job creation would not come to fruition over the next five years if redevelopment were eliminated. Such projects include: the construction of over 300 affordable homes; improvements to Santa Monica High School recreational facilities; the development of Palisades Garden Walk near the Civic Center; and the construction of the Pico Neighborhood Library at Virginia Avenue Park.
“While the need to take dramatic action to address state budget difficulties is understandable, eliminating redevelopment agencies is counterproductive,” Mayor Richard Bloom said. “At a time when California is desperately in need of job creation and affordable, sustainable, and community-oriented development, redevelopment is essential.”
In total, over $283 million in redevelopment funding is expected to be invested in Santa Monica over the next five years, officials note. Using federal stimulus standards, the planned construction and rehabilitation projects are expected to create over 5,000 full-time-equivalent construction-related jobs, they added.
Brown called the spending plan “a tough budget for tough times” that he expects will close the state’s structural deficit.
“These cuts will be painful, requiring sacrifice from every sector of the state, but we have no choice,” Brown said. “For 10 years, we’ve had budget gimmicks and tricks that pushed us deep into debt. We must now return California to fiscal responsibility and get our state on the road to economic recovery and job growth.”