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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Redevelopment Agency Experiment Runs Its Course

City Ponders Post- 
Redevelopment Fate,
New Chapter In Emeryville History

The California Supreme Court ruling posted today is definitive; all redevelopment agencies state-wide are dissolved.  Emeryville, being more than 90% in a 'redevelopment zone' will feel the impacts of the decision more than most cities.  Virtually every capital fund project and every large-scale development over the years including the Bay Street Mall, has been financed with redevelopment tax increment money and today's announcement will reverberate, its effects far reaching.  Many projects still in the pipeline including the Center of Community Life, the Performing Arts Center, new proposed parks and the bike/pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks at 53rd Street are funded with redevelopment money and their future is now in limbo.

The ten year project, the Emeryville Center of Community Life, has already taken a massive hit on its funding earlier in the year when Emeryville's bonding capacity was more than cut in half; from $95 million to $40 million.  The Redevelopment Agency was on tap to pitch in $25 million and if this funding dries up with today's Supreme Court ruling, the entire project will be put in jeopardy.  School District officials are in holiday mode and could not be reached for comment.

City Manager Pat O'Keeffe, formerly Chairman of the California Redevelopment Association has been a stanch advocate for Emeryville's Redevelopment Agency citing the agency as the only option for developing the town and he has been sounding alarm bells over the possible elimination of the agency by Sacramento for months.  Mr O'Keeffe is on holiday and could not be reached for comment.  Deputy City Manager Delores Turner told the Tattler she expects Emeryville to experience "significant impacts" and expressed hope some "fix it legislation" could restore some of what has been lost with today's ruling.  She called the redevelopment era a boon for the local economy and for job creation.


  1. What goes around comes around. Circumventing the intent of laws and policy is not what a city with a competent "city attorney" would do. Seriously, 90 percent of our city is under the guise of redevelopment? This is laughable incompetence. Curly, Larry and Moe, has to go.

  2. This is not just bad news for Emeryville, it's bad news for the State. They have shut down major tool for economic development. It will make it almost impossible for the State to meet future economic needs. It's like a farmer reaping the harvest,and failing to plant seeds for the next crop. Without redevelopment, Emeryville would consist of abandoned factories, underutilized land, no new parks, or civic buildings.

    It means every existing "slum" area of the State will remain in decay, with no chance to turn around. That is why redevelopment was created. I don't think any state has ever eliminated redevelopment.

    For Emeryville, we need to look at what we have and decide how the money should be spent. The City Council should have a retreat to discuss the priorities. The Finance Committee should be making recomendations on any new commitments for the use of general fund money.

    We will need to pay close attention to how the city council spends the money we have. For example, is it more important to build the ped-bike bridge, across to Bay Street, or give $25 MILLION for ECCL..?

    Should we spend General Fund Money to underground utilities. It may bea luxury thecity can't afford at this time. If the existing overhead wires are not safe, the city has an obligation to go after PG&E to fix the problem.

    If the City says, we're going to create an assessment district to underground the utilities, they won't make any investment to fix what we have until it falls down. Ratepayers deserve safe overhead wires.

    Should the City be using General Fund money to clean up toxic waste from the Wareham Transit Center Site. I hope the Finance Committee looks real carefully at any commitments of general fund money..?

  3. Mr Bukowski says without the Redevelopment Agency, "Emeryville would consist of abandoned factories, underutilized land, no new parks, or civic buildings." There is no way anyone can know that. Without the Redevelopment Agency, Emeryville would have developed the old fashioned way; no one knows what the town would look like.

    In the years before redevelopment agencies were invented, cities grew and developed. In fact ,during the 'City Beautiful' movement at the turn of the 20th Century, cities across America build beautiful public edifices and libraries etc, all without federal or state help. It is alarmist to say we are going to screech to a halt.