The Goleta Redevelopment Agency contributed $167,096 to the California State government as part of a $350 million payment required from the state’s redevelopment agencies on May 10.
The series of payments, implemented in 2009, aims to trim $2.05 billion from local governments to help bridge the state’s budget deficit. The highly contested cuts are mandated by ABX4-26, a state budget trailer bill approved by former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to redirect local agency funding to the state level.
According to California Redevelopment Association Executive Director John Shirey, the organizations have been forced to sacrifice the quality of their community renewal projects to comply with the state’s practices.
“Redevelopment is a vital tool to create local jobs, reduce crime, build affordable housing, clean up contaminated toxic sites and otherwise transform rundown, blighted communities in need,” Shirey said in a press release. “Continued state raids of local funds are not only illegal, but they make no fiscal sense at a time when we should be emphasizing job creation.”
Goleta Mayor Margaret Connell said the raids will limit the local institute’s ability to finish current restoration programs in the area.
“[The agency] is still working on a number of projects, including the San Jose Creek flood control and renovation projects in Old Town Goleta,” Connell said. “The first project is especially important because it is crucial in preventing floods in the Goleta area.”
The Goleta Redevelopment Agency also provides the unincorporated Isla Vista with funding for its renovation projects.
California Redevelopment Association Deputy Director Tom Hart said the reductions will limit construction plans, including several extensive projects listed in the I.V. Master Plan.
“Ultimately, what redevelopment agencies create is a sense of community — a sense of place,” Hart said. “More money for a local redevelopment agency and a local government means more money to be used for things that the state or federal government may not be able to accommodate. Less money to the agencies means the opposite.”
Hart said the mandatory payments will also impact local economies through job and business opportunity losses.
“Redevelopment projects statewide support almost 200,000 construction jobs,” Hart said. “Also, renovation projects can attract more businesses to the area. If a city renovates a theater, for example, it’ll generate business for parking, dining and more.”
According to Hart, redevelopment agencies throughout California are struggling to maintain productivity under the combined weight of an underperforming economy and state demands.
“It’s been everywhere in the state since the raids started in 2009,” Hart said. “San Jose, for example, had to lay off a lot of its project managers because the city government no longer had enough projects.”