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County Bends to Brown's Bill, Called 'Extortion'

The bill, signed by Governor Jerry Brown, kicked off a lawsuit between Temecula and the state. The county will now make payments to keep its redevelopment money.

County Bends to Brown's Bill, Called 'Extortion'


The county is dealing with a plan signed by Governor Jerry Brown that moved Temecula to sue the state.

The Tuesday designated the county Housing Authority to manage publicly funded affordable housing projects initiated by the Redevelopment Agency, which was eliminated by a bill signed by the Governor last year. To read about what he did,

The state's move was called tantamount to extortion by Temecula City Council members, who recently agreed to make hefty payments to the state in order to keep the agency intact. Click here to read about it.

The city is also suing the state to fight Brown's plan. To read about it, .

In a 4-0 vote -- with board Chairman John Tavaglione absent -- the
supervisors named the Housing Authority as "successor agency'' to the county
RDA in all housing-related matters.

The county's Economic Development Agency was designated in March as the principal successor agency, overseeing all revitalization projects not connected to housing.

There are several dozen RDA projects on tap countywide, though the exact
number of low- to moderate-income housing projects could not be immediately

"The critical issue for the county is creating more jobs,'' said Supervisor Bob Buster. "Infrastructure improvements and redevelopment contribute to that.''

He expressed concerns about securing funding to complete remaining and
future RDA projects as doubts linger about how to pay for them.

The board will hold a workshop on redevelopment during its Jan. 24

In June, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly bills 1x26 and 1x27, which
mandated phasing out RDAs statewide and provided for an alternate program under which revitalization projects would be allowed to continue.

Supporters of the legislation argued that redevelopment dollars -- gleaned from higher property tax receipts that result from projects -- would be better used to fund schools and other municipal functions during the current tight budgetary times.

Opponents, including Riverside County, countered that RDA projects provided localized economic stimulus, creating construction jobs, eradicating blight and raising commercial and residential property values.

The League of California Cities and the California Redevelopment Association filed a lawsuit challenging the changes to redevelopment.

The California Supreme Court heard arguments in the matter and handed down a Dec. 29 ruling upholding the legislation ending redevelopment but strikingdown a law requiring counties and cities to fork over roughly $1.7 billion by mid-January and make aggregate annual payments of $400 million to fund grade schools, community colleges, fire districts and transit districts under the "Alternative Voluntary Redevelopment Program.''

Despite the decision, entities that wish to continue their redevelopment programs using successor agencies will be required, under AB 1x26, to share
revenues derived from projects.

According to the statute, funds not used to cover RDA debt and overhead costs will be "remitted to (a county's) auditor-controller for (proportional) distribution to cities, the county, special districts and school districts.''

"The legislation that abolished RDAs and funding that had been available will now go back to the black hole of Sacramento,'' Supervisor Jeff Stone said today. "The state is balancing its books on the backs of local governments. It's a shame.''

Riverside County's redevelopment agency, with about $100 million in
annual revenue, is the state's seventh-largest. A total of 625 redevelopment
projects have been completed in the county.

There are 37 projects in the pipeline, including road improvements, parks, libraries, affordable housing complexes and public safety facilities, county officials said.

Stone said one of the points of discussion at the board's Jan. 24 meeting should be downsizing staff in the county's now-defunct Redevelopment Agency.

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