Santa Monica Deplores Gov. Browns' Redevelopment Cuts

Tuesday, 11 Jan 2011, 5:51:00 AM

Mirror Staff

Graphic for the City of Santa Monica
Art by Christopher Rosacker
Graphic for the City of Santa Monica

As part of proposed state budget cuts, newly elected California Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed to eliminate redevelopment agencies statewide. The City of Santa Monica sent out a release today admonishing the elimination of the Santa Monica Redevelopment Agency, saying the cut would have severe negative impacts on the City.

“Redevelopment is California’s primary engine for supporting jobs, reinforcing the economy, funding affordable housing, and building infrastructure," said Rod Gould, Santa Monica's city manager, in the release. "With an unemployment rate of more than 12 percent, a massive infrastructure deficit, and state policies promoting infill development, California needs redevelopment more than ever to create a stronger and greener tomorrow."

Santa Monica officials predict multiple community projects in Santa Monica and associated job creation would not come to fruition if redevelopment were eliminated.

“While the need to take dramatic action to address State budget difficulties is understandable, eliminating redevelopment agencies is counterproductive. At a time when California is desperately in need of job creation and affordable, sustainable, and community-oriented development, redevelopment is essential,” said Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom.

The City of Santa Monica released a list of projects that would NOT happen over the next five years if redevelopment is eliminated as part of Gov. Brown’s state budget cuts:

1) More than 300 affordable residences would not be built or rehabilitated, robbing families and individuals of the opportunity to live in decent, affordable housing near employment centers, services, and family and social networks. ($100 million)

2) Improvements to Santa Monica High School’s recreational facilities, including facilities and pedestrian areas that could be jointly used by the public, would not be completed. ($56 million)

3) Development of Palisades Garden Walk, a six-acre public park planned to be built across from the Santa Monica Pier, would be impossible ($25 million). Also a six-acre public park and cultural hub adjacent to the Civic Auditorium Park could not be built. ($21 million)

4) Construction of the Pico Neighborhood Library, being developed in Virginia Avenue Park to serve Santa Monica’s most ethnically and economically diverse neighborhood, would be halted. ($12.8 million)

4) Creation of the Civic Center Early Childhood Development Center, a partnership with Santa Monica College designed to serve infants and toddlers in an innovative learning environment, would be jeopardized. ($4.4 million)

5) Improvements related to the Exposition Light Rail line that is coming to Santa Monica, including station area improvements, pathway improvements, and pedestrian and bicycle connections, would be compromised. ($30.9 million)

6) Renovation and seismic retrofitting of the landmark Santa Monica Civic Auditorium for performing arts and concerts would not be possible. ($25 million)

In total, more than $283 million is expected to be invested in Santa Monica over the next five years. Using federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus standards, the new construction and rehabilitation projects identified above are expected to create more than 5,000 full-time-equivalent construction-related jobs. Using IMPLAN input-output economic modeling, which includes the multiplier effects of spending, the projects are estimated by the City of Santa Monica to promote the creation of over 40,000 full-time equivalent jobs.

Over the past 10 years, the Santa Monica Redevelopment Agency has invested nearly $300 million in the community, with nearly half of the amount providing financing for more than 950 homes for low-income households. The remaining funds were used to acquire land that will accommodate affordable housing and parks in the Civic Center area; for construction of the Swim Center shared by Santa Monica College, the recently opened Beach House, and a transitional housing facility providing shelter and services to homeless individuals; and for the rehabilitation and seismic retrofit of the City’s downtown parking structures, which are used by as many as 12,000 residents, employees and shoppers daily.

“The Governor’s proposed action to eliminate redevelopment is shameful, especially when it has been only two months since California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 22," decried Andy Agle, Santa Monica’s Director of Housing and Economic Development. "Proposition 22 made it clear that voters want local funds, including local redevelopment agency funding, to remain in the hands of local government. Californians are fed up with the State of California’s budgetary games and maneuvers, and the proposed elimination of redevelopment is another attempt to circumvent the letter of the state constitution while violating its spirit and voter mandates.”

Copyright © 2011 by Santa Monica Mirror. All rights reserved.