Redevelopment Agency dissolved to the disappointment of city council
“Tonight is your last meeting as the Redevelopment Agency,” said Redondo Beach City Manager Bill Workman at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting. “I have previously reported to you actions by the Governor, the legislature and the courts that effectively eliminate the RDA in about five hours from now.”
For Redondo Beach and 400 other cities around the state, time was ticking for councils to make their ultimate decisions and dissolve the agency before the Feb. 1 deadline, to the chagrin and disapproval of all city council members.
“All efforts to extend the life of RDAs failed in Sacramento,” Councilman Steven Diels said.
The agency was created in the 1950s and was formed as a mechanism to help cities capture funding from local property taxes to help create projects and redevelop blighted parts of towns. Recently, a court ruling from the State upheld an earlier bill dissolving RDAs to help fill a $24.5 billion hole in the State budget. Alleged abuses of RDAs across the state had brought accusations of corruption and financial mismanagement tainted redevelopment efforts and prompted investigations that questioned the necessity of such agencies.
For Redondo Beach, the RDA meant more money for projects that would otherwise be either privately funded, or not at all. The city will lose $10 million in redevelopment money and forced the city to reduce staffing and eliminate various programs developed to help citizens to economically compete with other states and cities for economic opportunities and jobs. Without redevelopment funds the city will have to eliminate the Deferred Payment Loan Program, the Handy Person Program, and the Commercial Rehabilitation Program. Six employees at the Section 8 Housing Assistance Program will be layed off. The council also declined to be the successor agency for Section 8 housing and passed that responsibility on to the Housing Authority to protect the city’s general fund.
According to a release from the city, no households currently receiving Section 8 Housing Assistance will be displaced.
“If you look around town and see some of the major investments that have happened like the South Bay Galleria, the old Sheraton Hotel now Crowne Plaza Hotel, a lot of different areas,” said Mayor Mike Gin. “There have been a number of improvements that have been able to be done through that tool when it is used properly.”
According to Diels, the Sacramento continues to press on local governments and require them to comply with unfunded state mandates that draw on city coffers more and more. With less money coming into the city from the RDA funding, he said, “It’s not sustainable. States cannot continue to do this to local governments and expect local governments to be able to maintain their ability to serve.”
Over the past month, city council members met multiple times and attempted to follow protocols to better ease the transition of elimination, but were confused about the steps to take because of the State’s late action and often confusing directions.
“I hope this experience with RDA is not foreshadowing what’s happening to cities,” said Diels. “You will find going forward I believe this action of the State upon RDAs will actually cause some cities to go bankrupt. The threat on small independent cities is great… I remain someone who is trying to protect our independence as a city because I would not want to become a part of the county or lose our status or become a general law city, which is probably what the state would like. They would prefer to control everything. We will continue our following of these matters as long as we can, and I’m sorry it came to this.”