Expand Local Redevelopment Agencies?
Friday, June 18, 2010
There's talk of expanding the city's redevelopment agencies, the SEDC and the CCDC. The city council approved a plan for SEDC to expand the boundaries of the communities it serves. And, many advocates for a new Chargers stadium are calling for an increase in CCDC's cost cap. We discuss how an expansion of SEDC and CCDC could affect other areas of the city.
GLORIA PENNER (Host): We have one more subject that we must cover because there is news this week about one of the City of San Diego’s redevelopment agencies. Both the Centre City Development Corporation, or CCDC, and the Southeastern Economic Development Corporation, SEDC, are charged with developing blighted areas. CCDC is focused on downtown but, Andrew, this has to do with SEDC, which two years ago went through a scandal when its president was tossed out because of secret bonuses and the agency’s struggled ever since. But there’s news about the agency. What is it?
ANDREW DONOHUE (Editor, voiceofsandiego.org): You know, when – in sort of the wake of those scandals, the city council demanded that SEDC come back with a plan to prove that it was viable. And there’s also been – Viable, I think, as an organization, credibility in the community first of all, and then viable as in actually financially solvent. And so what SEDC did was come back with a plan and some of it’s sort of, I guess, bureaucratic-speak but basically the goal is to bolster its finances, give it more freedom on how it collects money and how it spends it, and I think the more important thing to watch is it actually would draw the greater Logan Heights area into the SEDC area. And SEDC has not been very good historically at community outreach, and you have a lot of people who are living in Logan Heights right now who are worried that they’re going to lose control over development and that the tax revenue in their neighborhood is going to be taken out and be spent elsewhere.
PENNER: So this is property tax revenue and, Kent, even though you’re in North County, you’re not exempt from this because when a redevelopment agency takes property tax money, there actually is something that is removed from the tax base from all over the county.
KENT DAVY (Editor, North County Times): It’s – But I believe it’s typically the increment inside the boundaries of the redevelopment agency, not outside the boundaries.
DAVID ROLLAND (Editor, San Diego CityBeat): Yeah, but part of that…
ROLLAND: …part of that money would otherwise…
DAVY: I see.
ROLLAND: …go to the county and…
ROLLAND: …education and…
ROLLAND: …other entities.
PENNER: So what is your reaction to this, David, the fact that basically SEDC and CCDC want caps removed. They want to be able to collect more tax increment money.
ROLLAND: Yeah, I’m not sure if we – Did we say what SEDC stood for?
PENNER: Yes, we…
PENNER: I introduced it by Southeastern Development…
ROLLAND: Okay, good. Thank you.
ROLLAND: Sorry. I missed that.
PENNER: Yeah. Yeah.
ROLLAND: No, it makes a – On firs glance, it does make a certain amount of sense, what they’re talking about doing. Right now, you know, they don’t have – That area of town doesn’t have what downtown has going for it, so it really can’t generate the critical mass of redevelopment in these small pockets. Right now, what they have to do, they have to – any money, tax increment money, they raise in that small area, has to stay in that small area and be spent there. So it makes a little bit of sense that what they’re trying to do is pool four or maybe five, if they get this new expanded Logan Heights area, pool that money and sort of pick things off one by one so they have a larger pool to fund projects in maybe another area. And so maybe they accomplish something in – They pool their money from all these areas and they accomplish something in area A first then, you know, once that’s done, you know, they pool the money again and accomplish, you know, a project in, you know, area B or something. So it makes a certain amount of sense. I think people are nervous about this because it sort – It did sort of fly under the radar and especially in Logan Heights, they’re concerned of, as any neighborhood – lower income neighborhood would be, what is the impact going to be? If you gentrify this area, if you make this area prettier, are property values going to go up so much that I can’t live here anymore?
PENNER: Haven’t you had that situation in Oceanside?
DAVY: It happens in Vista. There’s been a…
PENNER: Is it Vista?
DAVY: …town site development in Vista. It’s the same kind of an argument to the extent that the Vista Redevelopment came in, has put in some big shopping areas, the redevelopment agency there acquiring property which it will then turn and redevelop. What happens to the people who live there?
PENNER: What happened to the people who lived there?
DAVY: Well, people that – property that was purchased, those people end up having to go someplace else.
PENNER: To Logan Heights?
DAVY: Well, I – Wherever people go.
PENNER: Okay, so – Well, that’s the point. Where do people go? We’re going to have to have you wrap this up for us, Andrew. So if East Logan Heights is developed, where would the people – I mean, what’s left for the people?
DONOHUE: Well, I don’t know, I don’t think there’s all that much plans to actually do much there right now. I think the bigger picture is, is that, for the first time in a long time, in my entire time here in San Diego, people are actually starting to ask questions about redevelopment. I think maybe 5, 6 years ago, these sort of caps would’ve been removed without really thinking. But because governments have been stretched so thin and because individual neighborhoods are having so much problems dealing with parks and streets and everything, that leaders from around the city and around the region are starting to really look hard at redevelopment.
PENNER: That’s a good thing. That’s a good thing. And we will continue to watch this story, and I thank you very much, Andrew Donohue, voiceofsandiego.org, David Rolland, the editor of CityBeat, and from the North County Times, thank you for coming down, Kent Davy. Thanks to our listeners and our callers. This is the Editors Roundtable. I’m Gloria Penner.