Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Attorney General Kamala Harris Files Response to Redevelopment Lawsuit

The office of California State Attorney General Kamala Harris says the recent lawsuit alleging the Legislature's dissolution of redevelopment agencies is unconstitutional has no merit, according to a response to the suit filed Wednesday in the State Supreme Court.

The complaint asks the state Supreme Court to issue a stay on the implementation of the new redevelopment plans.  Harris says granting a stay at this point will cause damage to the state's precarious budget direction. "Granting a stay would wreak havoc on the operation of the state for the fiscal year."

The League of California Cities tweeted Wednesday they will have response to Harris's filing on Friday.

The passage of AB1X26 and AB1X27 last month along with a barrage of companion legislature helped close a state budget gap once as large as $25 billion at the start of the calendar year. A nearly unprecedented outcry, though, from cities and countries across the state has increased from quiet grumbling to harsh public comments in recent months.

A much-anticipated lawsuit was subsequently filed by the League of California Cities and joined by the municipalities of San Jose and Union City. The suit contends the twin bills violate the state constitution and runs counter to the Proposition 22--passed just last year prohibiting the use of local revenue to balance the state budget.

Harris's office disagrees. "RDAs are creatures of statute--not state constitution--and the Legislature may dissolve them," the filing said.

Cities like San Jose, which is currently facing huge budget deficits, say they need more time to reconcile their situations with possible one-time costs in the millions to join the revamped redevelopment agencies. Despite contempt by local official, most are expected to approve the obligations contained in AB1X27.

The attorney general's response also seeks to rebut the rising tenor of rhetoric uttered by local officials who readily refer to the redevelopement legislation as "blackmail." The legislation passed in Sacramento last month does not end redevelopment, the filing contends, but allows for a successor agency. Such a reading of the two bills is likely to enrage those a the local level.

Before approving to "opt-in" to the new redevelopment agency Tuesday night, Brentwood Councilman Bob Brockman said, "It is really not a voluntary system. I like the part of this being called voluntary. It is like put a gun to your head and say it is voluntary before I shoot you."

Hayward Councilman Barbara Halliday and City Manager Fran David used similar imagery July 19 when they referred to the Legislature's Hobson Choice of paying million to opt-in or lose redevelopment as "extortion money."

Hayward approved a plan to opt-in costing $4.1 million for the fiscal year 2012 and nearly $1 million in subsequent years, but also said it will keep a close eye on any developments in the cities' lawsuits against the state.


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