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Davis, California

Saturday, May 18, 2024

City Council opposes redevelopment agency elimination

The Davis City Council adopted a resolution Tuesday indicating its opposition to Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed removal of the over 400 city redevelopment agencies throughout the state.

Brown’s proposal would effectively eliminate Davis’ redevelopment agency and sell off its assets, effective July 1 if it is approved.

“I support Gov. Brown’s cuts, but we can’t be undercutting our local communities’ abilities to remain vibrant,” said Mayor Pro Tempore Rochelle Swanson. “It’s a promise that we’ve given to the taxpayers.”

City leaders have cried foul since Brown announced his proposal last month, calling for the governor to spare redevelopment agencies, city improvement projects and job growth.

“There are many projects I believe would not have happened if the agency had not invested in downtown,” said planning department leader Ken Hiatt, when presenting the agency’s past and present projects at the meeting.

The Davis Redevelopment Agency has funded several improvement and public-private projects, including the Pole Line overpass, the G Street Plaza, the conversion of Historic City Hall to Bistro 33 and the renovation of Central Park. It also finances Davis’ affordable housing program and several rehabilitation projects throughout the city’s designated redevelopment area.

Gov. Brown directly addressed the issue of redevelopment funds in his State of the State speech on Monday. He said that “core functions of government” – such as K-12 schooling – “must be funded first.”

“Redevelopment funds come directly from local property taxes that would otherwise pay for schools and core city and county services, such as police and fire protection…,” Brown said.

Under the Governor’s proposal, cities may finance redevelopment projects by selling redevelopment bonds, which would require a vote and the approval of at least 55 percent of voters.

Davis’ redevelopment agency is currently financed by property taxes drawn from the city’s designated redevelopment area, which includes downtown Davis, South Davis and much of East Davis. The fund exacts revenues from the increase in taxes since the 1987 property tax rate.

However, city officials noted Tuesday that Davis passes much of those property tax funds directly to Yolo County, as well as the Yolo County Flood Control and Cemetery Districts.

Interim City Manager Paul Navazio said at the meeting that there are rumors and speculation as to what will happen because there is currently no official legislation.

Brown said Monday that his plan “protects current redevelopment projects and supports all bonded indebtedness of those redevelopment agencies.”

Councilmember Sue Greenwald said the language of such a bill may not matter since its implementation may be a legal issue.

“Legally, it’s not clear that any bill would be upheld,” Greenwald said at the meeting. “I’m not sure getting that language will be that helpful for us, because ultimately it will probably end up in the courts.”

The City Council voted 3-0 to oppose the elimination. Councilmember Sue Greenwald, citing her support for an earlier version of the resolution, abstained from the vote.

The City of Davis City Council meets every Tuesday at City Hall in the Community Chambers. The meetings begin at 6:30 p.m.

JUSTIN HO can be reached at city@theaggie.org.


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