Thursday, February 22 , 2018, 11:43 am | Fair 58º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Francisco Takes California Lawmakers to Task Over Redevelopment Funds

City councilman says Santa Barbara would be forced to pay $7 million or lose its agency money under two Assembly bills he calls unconstitutional

Santa Barbara City Councilman Dale Francisco slammed Sacramento legislators on Tuesday for holding California cities’ redevelopment money for ransom to balance the state budget.

He called out Assemblyman Das Williams in particular for supporting two laws that the councilman believes are unconstitutional. Assembly Bill X1 26 dissolved 425 redevelopment agencies around the state, and AB X1 27 allowed cities to reinstate them for a fee.

Francisco said Santa Barbara would have to pay a fee of $7 million by Jan. 15 or lose its redevelopment money.

“These kinds of projects are absolutely vital both for our local economy and who we are as a city,” Francisco said during a news conference at City Hall.

He said the counties and cities in Williams’ 35th District would lose $19 million in redevelopment funding next year if the laws stand.

The California Supreme Court ruled last Thursday to suspend implementation of the two laws and agreed to decide on their constitutionality before the Jan. 15 deadline.

Williams did not respond to Noozhawk’s requests for comment on Tuesday, but field representative James Joyce said the assemblyman voted in support of the bills because the redevelopment money, although valuable, should be going to schools.

“Although Das does agree, yes Santa Barbara’s Redevelopment Agency is being handled very well,” Joyce said. “If you look at the whole pie, they are taking away from what our schools have.”

Proposition 22, approved by California voters in 2010, reduced or eliminated the state’s authority to redirect redevelopment agency property taxes to any other local government. Francisco said the state has circumvented Proposition 22 by passing the two new laws.

Joyce said Williams does not believe that the laws violate Proposition 22.

“I’m confident that the Supreme Court is going to rule in our favor,” Francisco said. “I think when they look at this they will agree this is just another game by the Legislature to get around responsible budgeting.”

Before the Legislature voted on the issue, Mayor Helene Schneider and Francisco tried unsuccessfully to persuade Williams to support redevelopment funding.

“He was completely unsympathetic,” Francisco said.

Redevelopment funds have been critical to past development projects, including Paseo Nuevo and the recent seismic upgrade to Fire Station One.

Francisco noted that Williams supported such projects during his time on the City Council. Joyce countered that if every Assembly member voted only for budget plans that diverted no money from their district, a budget would never be passed.

Francisco said about 85 percent of the city’s redevelopment projects are good, but that some aren’t, such as bulb-outs. He said the council’s debate usually boils down to the public benefit and how much it costs.

“There are projects that are beneficial but could be done for a lot less,” he said.

Noozhawk intern Daniel Langhorne can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >