June 15, 2007

Community Commentary:

What is Redevelopment? And What Does It Mean for Chula Vistans

By Theresa Acerro

What is Redevelopment? There are a variety of answers, depending upon whom one asks. There is a pamphlet named ‘Redevelopment, The Unknown Government’ (published by Municipal Officials for Redevelopment Reform (MORR), August 1998), which paints a very negative picture. The websites of cities with Community Development Agencies attempt to paint a very rosy picture. The many people relocated from their homes by various redevelopment projects in San Diego certainly have their opinions. The owners of businesses replaced by Redevelopment Agencies that thought they were not “the best use” for a given piece of land also have their opinions.

What is clear is that Redevelopment Agencies are state agencies and as such are not bound by local laws nor accountable to local residents for their actions—unless the Redevelopment Agency is comprised of members of the City Council. When local elected officials choose to keep control of the actions of the agencies, citizens may have some say in what happens, but if, as recommended, local elected officials remove themselves entirely from the actions of the agency, citizens lose any leverage they may have.

There is a financial advantage to the agencies to encourage the change of ownership and/or upgrades of properties in redevelopment areas. Any increase in property taxes generated by a reassessment triggered by a sale or upgrade of property in a redevelopment area is split 20% to affordable housing 20% to the county and schools and 60% to the redevelopment agency, except in Southwest Chula Vista where 20% goes to affordable housing, 20% to schools, 20% to the county and 40% to the Redevelopment Agency. This financial windfall is what makes eminent domain so popular in other cities.

Chula Vistans are fortunate that Proposition C protects them from eminent domain, but not necessarily from pressure to sell or redevelop property.

Members of the Community Development Department of the City of Chula Vista will be at the June meeting of the Southwest Chula Vista Civic Association (a California Non-Profit) on Monday June 25, 2007. Councilman Rudy Ramirez and the acting Assistant City Manager with authority over the Community Development Department will also be there. The meeting will be held at 6:45 p.m. at the MAAC Charter School, which is located at 1385 Third Avenue on the east side of the street between Quintard and Palomar. This is an opportunity for all residents of Chula Vista to get their questions answered, voice their concerns and make their opinions known about how Redevelopment has and will take place in Chula Vista. For more information please call (619) 425-5771.

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