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from the News-Ledger
Jan. 19, 2011

By Steve Marschke

News-Ledger Editor
   

  Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed state budget fix could put an end to local redevelopment agencies – one of which has been a central tool in West Sacramento’s drive to recreate itself.

  “The action would eliminate redevelopment agencies except for a basic accounting function,” City Manager Toby Ross told the council on Wednesday. “There wouldn’t be any ongoing programs.”

  West Sacramento has a redevelopment agency boundary that includes much of its riverfront and downtown as well as part of Southport. Special property tax rules apply within the redevelopment area, re-routing some of the revenue away from the state and back into the redevelopment agency for use in spurring development. This money – and the promise of more in the future after successful new development – can also be leveraged with outside funds to make big-ticket projects happen.

  “It’s hard to imagine what our community would look like if there had been no redevelopment,” Mayor Cabaldon said at Wednesday’s council meeting. “There would be no Southport without redevelopment – redevelopment created the critical amount of money for the Palamidessi Bridge.”

  Among the other projects Cabaldon said could not have occurred without the redevelopment agency were Raley Field and the just-started Bridge District construction. The local agency was involved in the deals that brought the “ziggurat” building to town (with the Money Store company originally) and in redeveloping West Capitol Avenue.

  The mayor added that the city’s “smart growth” plans – focusing new density in downtown and freeway areas – “just can’t work” if the city’s redevelopment agency is taken away. He told the council that because West Sacramento has a lot of examples of the proper use of redevelopment agency programs, and because it is so close to the capital, the city can play a role in educating the governor and legislators on the importance of keeping the agencies alive.

  “It’s hard to imagine a more important budget fight, particularly to West Sacramento, than this one,” said Cabaldon.

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