Monday, February 28, 2011
San Diego is not backing down in its fight to keep redevelopment money coming. The city is battling the state in an effort to maintain the status quo, but it not all City Council members are riding the redevelopment train.
A $4-billion wish list of redevelopment projects was approved by City Council today. The rushed action was taken in response to a provision in Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to eliminate redevelopment -- projects already "under way" may be allowed to proceed. Brown's definition of "under way" remains unclear, however.
While the majority of Council members supported keeping redevelopment funds at home, not everyone was in favor of the specific projects proposed.
Councilman David Alvarez, who represents the southern reaches of San Diego, voted against moving forward with the project list. He said redevelopment has gotten off track and noted that more than $2 billion is slated to be spent downtown.
"It’s crystal clear that the vast majority of our redevelopment’s resources have been targeted toward areas that are no longer blighted, mainly downtown, while poorer communities receive little," Alvarez said.
He also voted against a downtown dog park and fire station, and going forward with the North Embarcadero Plan. Alvarez said his district, which includes Barrio Logan and San Yisdro, have been left behind.
Sherri Lightner, who represents La Jolla and points north, joined Alvarez in rejecting the redevelopment wish list.
But Council President Tony Young, whose district includes several low-income communities, argued that eliminating redevelopment is short-sighted.
"Redevelopment has proved to be a powerful economic engine for San Diego, one that has made our city a national model," Young said. "Every neighborhood, from Webster to Barrio Logan to the downtown East Village, would feel the impact from the loss of redevelopment."
Councilman Todd Gloria agreed. He said all neighborhoods will benefit, including his mid-city district, which could see projects worth nearly $400 million.
"We can keep those here in San Diego, or we can send them to Sacramento and hope for just a small fraction of a penny of that to come back to us. It’s a no-brainer in my point of view," Gloria said.
The wish list just gives initial approval to these redevelopment projects. Each item will have to go through a more complete permitting process when it eventually comes before the Council.
But under the governor’s proposal, a project pushed through after Jan. 1 can be reviewed and canceled within three years. So it’s not certain any of the projects on the list passed by the San Diego City Council listed will actually be completed.