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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Alameda County Supervisors Lay Into Dissolution of Redevelopment

END OF REDEVELOPMENT
ALAMEDA COUNTY
Jan. 10, 2012 | A seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors is one of the safest seats in the East Bay. So, when a supervisors speaks on a controversial issue like the end of redevelopment agencies they find little incentive to hold back their true feelings.

"I'm both sad and angry," said Supervisor Nate Miley. "The action of the state is tragic and the law itself is abysmal."

The normally bombastic Miley was joined by fellow supervisors who voiced similarly charged rhetoric directed at lawmakers in Sacramento.

"There is no doubt this is another taking from the county," added Supervisor Wilma Chan.

The State Supreme Court's decision last month upheld Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to dismantle redevelopment agencies across the state as part of bold tax realignment plan. The outcome has caused considerable consternation as municipalities furiously work to figure out exactly what the new law calls from them.

The decision also brings fresh attention to a serious rift between local governments and the state Legislature over the perception lawmakers are patching mistakes from a chronically hemorrhaging state budget on the backs of cities.

Much is unclear about the role of cities and counties as successors agency for redevelopment. A tight time frame forces municipalities to decide by this Friday whether they will opt-out of taking over their redevelopment agencies. There also remains the possibility of various legislative corrections including extending the dissolution of the agencies from Feb. 1 to Mar. 1, helping local government's cope.

Another is a bill introduced this week forming a component saving the affordable housing aspect of redevelopment. Chan says the county is being kept informed by their lawmakers in Sacramento and is impressing the need for local control in the future.

"I would only hope we will have local control over what happens from hereon in because not only was this money taken away, but it would be worse if they put more mandates on us regarding the tax increments and other things," Chan said. "We're in the best position to decide what to do."

Part of the tenor from Tuesday's county supervisor's meeting included the notion Alameda County, at least in the past few years, has not dabbled in the sort of financial abuses of redevelopment funds attached to other offending counties.

"It's really unfortunate the state didn't make a distinction between those redevelopment agencies that were properly spending money and those that didn't," said Chan.

"Alameda County certainly was at the forefront in the spirit of what was going on with redevelopment," said Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who also took aim at those who misused funds on speculative projects. "It's the 10 percent that ruins it for the 90 percent."

Most of Alameda County's redevelopment projects are centered in its unincorporated areas in Castro Valley, San Lorenzo and hamlets attached to San Leandro. Last year, the board of supervisor approved transferring 10 properties in those areas from the redevelopment agency to the county. The move was meant to protect those mostly shovel-ready projects. Whether that transaction is legal under the new law will be under the jurisdiction of yet-to-be-formed oversight committee.

Like much of the current redevelopment saga, much is unknown at this point. The uncertainty has only furthered anger at the local level for an expansion of government facilitated by Sacramento. Miley lambasted the likelihood of 12 separate oversight committees existing in Alameda County alone.

"What this law has created is jobs for accountants, CPAs and lawyers," Miley charged.

He later lamented the perception the spectacle has on his role as a civic leader. "I'm ashamed to be part of government," he said, "because it just feeds into to what people are thinking about government."

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