Friday Dec 30 2011
Auburn Redevelopment agency out of business
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
Streetscape project loses funding
Auburn’s Redevelopment Agency, along with hundreds of others in California, is out of business after the California State Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the legislature was within its legal rights when it disbanded the agencies earlier this year by passing Assembly Bill AB 1X26 Now the state budget will see an infusion of tax revenue that was formerly dedicated to redevelopment in cities, but projects like Streetscape in Auburn have lost their source of funding. Proposition 22, passed by voters, prohibited the legislature from taking funds from redevelopment agencies, but ultimately the court sided with the legislature. “The bottom line is we have this inflated budget and the legislature had this inflated sense of their wallets,” said Auburn Mayor Keith Nesbitt. “It’s too little too late. We can’t wean the legislature off of special interests and over regulation. I wish the state could take a few cues from Auburn and try to do it the way our city council has and tighten their belts. It’s going to hurt the people who have been fiscally responsible.” In the second part of the ruling, the court decided that the legislature’s solution to allow redevelopment agencies to stay in operation so long as they paid a portion of their funds to the state was illegal. Nesbitt said for Auburn that means any future improvements will have to be completed through a different avenue. “The bottom line is we are going to have take a look at the different creative ways we can do projects now,” Nesbitt said. For now, he has given call to arms to various service groups in town to pick a project and help spearhead it. Streetscape Phase II is the last project that will be funded with already delegated redevelopment funds. When the City first learned that any money not budgeted for current projects had to be frozen in October, it went to work creating a plan to finish the phase. “Luckily we were very proactive and committed a lot of funds,” Nesbitt said. “There is $50,000 that will roll over into basically nothing because we didn’t have it committed prior to the ruling or the government bringing this down us.” In the future, Nesbitt said the city may look at raising redevelopment revenues in other ways, possibly through taxes. Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement that the abolishment of the agencies was in California’s best interest. “Today’s ruling by the California Supreme Court validates a key component of the state budget and guarantees more than a billion dollars of ongoing funding for schools and public safety,” Brown said in the statement. Erika Z. Anater, owner and stylist of 979 Hair Design, on Lincoln Way in Auburn, said Streetscape Phase II has improved the street her business is on and is disappointed that development funds are gone. “I think it look beautiful and it’s a positive thing all the way around,” Anater said. “I feel very fortunate to be right in the epicenter. I guess it’s a sign of the times. It’s unfortunate, but what are you going to do?” Although a few customers have complained about navigating the construction zone, she believes Streetscape is beneficial to Auburn overall. Auburn City Council Member and Mayor Pro-Tem Kevin Hanley said he thinks the legislature should repeal AB 1X26. “The court decision ends the Streetscape program unless the legislature repeals the law. We also wanted the redevelopment law to stay in place as it would have helped us beautify and improve the ugly corner of Highway 49 and Elm (Avenue),” Hanley said. “When the legislature returns in January, they should repeal AB1X 26. When redevelopment is done right it creates jobs, as we have done in Auburn.” Reach Sara Seyydin at firstname.lastname@example.org.