Faced with a $28 billion deficit, Governor Jerry Brown has been eying funds from the state’s 400 Redevelopment Agencies, hoping that he could put the money to “better use.” San Jose is fighting back.
Not only do the RDA funds often provide affordable housing to needy sectors of the population, but advocates argue that building the homes helps alleviate unemployment. Then there is the cultural element and the revitalization of downtown areas. “The downtown of San Jose was a hole in the donut a few decades ago,” says San Jose’s RDA chief Harry Mavrogenes. “Everything had gone. Were it not for redevelopment, you would not have all the development, all the jobs that are there now,”
The city agrees. At an emergency meeting Wednesday afternoon, City Council took the first steps to secure $58 million in redevelopment funds for projects that are already in development. Council members were following the lead of other cities like Fremont, which reached a collaborative agreement between its City Council and RDA. San Jose is pursuing the same strategy, and hopes to get public feedback at Tuesday’s regular City Council session.
About a dozen cities throughout California, including Los Angeles, are already taking steps to protect what little funds they have. That could force the Governor back to the drawing table to find alternative sources of money to fend off the looming the deficit.