Tuesday, August 21 , 2018, 12:14 am | A Few Clouds 67º



Goleta Chamber of Commerce Supports City’s Efforts to Protect Redevelopment Funds

Chamber officials say an effort should be made to maintain certain viable projects

Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed to eliminate all funding for California’s redevelopment agencies. This action would immediately jeopardize Goleta’s many Old Town revitalization projects that are either just being implemented or have planned start dates in the coming months.

With tax-generating private-sector jobs being created — some of them as a direct result of Goleta’s redevelopment projects — it is premature to eliminate an entire program that is widely credited with creating hundreds of local jobs.

The Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce is part of a growing effort involving cities, business owners and labor organizations to prevent elimination of all of California’s redevelopment agencies. In Santa Barbara County, unemployment just rose again to 9.5 percent, and statewide unemployment is steady at 12.3 percent, according to the latest figures from the California Employment Development Department.

“All too often, policymakers treat Californians with a ‘one-size-fits-all’ attitude,” said Kristen Amyx, president and CEO of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce. “Here is another example of the state possibly throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

The chamber’s leadership is aware that not all of California’s redevelopment agencies operate as effectively as they should. Since redevelopment agencies are funded through taxpayers, they should be scrutinized and held to the same standards as business people would hold any company.

The chamber believes that state lawmakers should hold off on plans to eliminate redevelopment agencies until California Controller John Chiang has had time to follow through on his recent announcement to audit 18 of the state’s 400 redevelopment agencies.

While Goleta is not on this list, close attention should be paid to the results of the controller’s audits of other agencies and seek further improvements locally to maximize the potential of our redevelopment agencies.

“The elmination of RDAs would mean millions of dollars already invested in planning and project development will have been wasted as these projects will become unfunded,” chamber board member Eric Onnen said. “Many of these projects are also able to leverage other money that creates a multiplier benefit of RDA funds.”

While we understand that cuts have to be made in many areas in order to solve the state’s financial crises, when it comes to RDAs, a consideration should be made to protect certain viable RDA projects, and if necessary, eliminate new RDA districts from being formed.

Along with our partners in the Chambers of Commerce Alliance of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, the Goleta Chamber of Commerce will be in Sacramento this month to urge lawmakers to think twice about the economic consequences of eradicating all of the state’s redevelopment programs.

— Kristen Amyx is president and CEO of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce.

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