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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Council Grants Final Proceeds From Former Redevelopment Agency

The End Of The Redevelopment Agency:
Center Of Community Life Gets $21 Million, The Rest Of The Town To Share $3 Million

The Emeryville city council has finally brought to a close the torturous and circuitous path of the money left over from the former Emeryville Redevelopment Agency.  Last Tuesday, with the State of California's OK, the council voted to spend the former Redevelopment Agency's final $24.5 million; the lion's share going to the Center of Community Life.  The Center, a schools/community project on San Pablo Avenue will get $21.2 million and the remaining $3.3 million will be shared by the proposed Arts Center at the Civic Center, the bike/pedestrian bridge across the railroad tracks at Bay Street and Wareham Development's Transit Center on Hollis Street.

The council reserved the right to decide later about how to dole out the $3.3 million for the three projects.  That money, apportioned for the Arts Center, the Transit Center and the bike/ped bridge will not be enough to complete any of the projects, no matter how the council decides on how to allot it among them, it should be noted.

The $24.5 million left standing from the Redevelopment Agency is but a whisper of its previous prodigious self when the Agency was still extant and flush with tax increment proceeds.  The take-over of redevelopment agencies across the State netted a lawsuit from the City of Emeryville recently.   After a protracted back and forth with Emeryville and other towns, Sacramento finally passed Assembly Bill 1484 releasing some of the unspent bond proceeds from the former Redevelopment Agency.  In Emeryville's case, that amounted to $24.5 million.  The council then voted on the beneficiaries of the last of the money and entered their intentions with the State, who now has 45 days to approve the plan.  City officials told the Tattler the approval will likely be a formality.

The list of four capital improvements was reduced by the so-called Successor Agency that replaced the Emeryville Redevelopment Agency from a wish list of more than $200 million worth of improvements formerly in the capital improvements program.  The wish list, vetted by the residents in two Saturday pivotal meetings some years back, included the Arts Center, the Bike/Ped Bridge but not the Transit Center.  Many other projects identified by residents and placed in the program, including two other major bike/ped bridges in town and a large central park, didn't make the cut by the Successor Agency and the Oversight Board set up by the State to wind down the Redevelopment Agency.

The former Redevelopment Agency funded its capital improvement programs with proceeds from improved receipts by virtue of the fact that the projects it funded increased their property value and the increase meant higher taxes paid to the Agency.  Those increases are called tax increments.  Sacramento seized redevelopment agencies statewide since provisions in their charters defunded schools and other municipal essentials causing Sacramento to pick up the slack.  The State budget crisis prompted the action.

The Center of Community Life, a school and community center will use the $21 million to build the community part of the project including a new recreation center and possibly a library, located on the San Pablo Avenue site.
The schools portion of the project has been experiencing major funding problems owing to the reduced bond capacity of Emeryville.  Some $48 million has been raised so far to replace the existing high school but School District officials are seeking an extra $20 million to close the existing elementary school and consolidate it in a "co-location" with the high school.  The District is considering using a controversial bond financing scheme that would mean a $107 million payback Emeryville taxpayers would have to make on that last $20 million to close the elementary school.

8 comments:

  1. The City Council voted 5/0 last night to give $22 million of TAX PAYER money to the school district for the ECCL. The public was not informed of this conversation. Total secrecy. Not a single EUSD parent or concerned Emeryville resident, save for Ken Bukowski, there to speak out. There were several other projects that could have used that money including the bicycle pedestrian bridge or the art center. The Council touts transparency but does not practice it. This is our money, WE should decide how it is spent. Where is the public meeting? The public input? Shame on the Mayor and shame on the Council.

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  2. The problem is only one resident was in attendance to voice an opinion. Not a single voice from the art community was there, not a single EUSD parent was there, not a single proponent of the bike community was there.

    PEOPLE, if you do not voice your opinion, if you DO NOT charge City Hall and tell them in mass what you want, then you get whatever they vote. Period. End of story.

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    1. if members of the art community were summoned i know that they would turn out as in the past. perhaps this is the motivation for stealth.

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    2. I was at the meeting in point of fact.

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  3. Having bought a house in Emeryville close to Anna Yates a few years back, with the intention of starting a family, this k-12 school is a joke. I would never send my kindergartner to the same location as a senior in high school. This isn't back in the day of the one room school house! As homeowners we are seriously rethinking our purchase. The alternative is to send them to a private school outside town. I am really saddened this is going through. Financially it doesn't make sense for the city and as a future parent (with a MA in marriage and family therapy) it doesn't make sense to me developmentally or socially to send my child to a k-12 school.

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  4. Waiting for city council to come to you is childish.
    You need to go to the city council.
    Go to the meetings, be involved, otherwise you are giving them tacit consent to do whatever they wish with the money.
    You really only have yourselves to blame.
    You vote them in, then you ignore what they do, dont go to the meetings, and then complain about the outcome.
    It's as though the citizens of Emeryville are a group of spoiled children who dont feel they should have to do ANYTHING to get their way.

    AND the lone resident who shows up is Ken Bukowski! What a great representative of the citizens! You couldn't make this stuff up.
    and how is it secrecy? Bukowski knew about it. All you have to do is actually GO to the meetings. But thats FAR too much effort for an Emery resident.

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    1. FYI- I was also at the meeting in question.

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  5. I think the fallacy being employed by BOTH the City Council and the City Manager is "we have been working on this project for so long, we need to see it through." Neither the Council nor the City Manager has taken a step back and asked, "is this the right project for Emeryville?"

    Yes, the City Council, the City Administration and the City Schools have been working on this project for 10+ years, AND they fail to recognize that Emeryville has changed. A lot. In 10 years.

    This is no longer a good fit for Emeryville.

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