Local government officials have heard many words this year from legislators about how it was never their intent to eliminate redevelopment, and there has been much discussion about next steps and how to move forward. But there is a difference between words and actions, and recent actions in the state Senate give pause for what may actually emerge.
Early this year, the Assembly moved quickly to draft, with significant input from the League, AB 1585 (Pérez), which cleaned up key provisions of the redevelopment dissolution bill ABx1 26. The bill was passed by the Assembly with solid bipartisan support in late March, but has never been given a hearing in the Senate.
Sen. Pavley spent several months working to refine, with the assistance of the League, SB 1335, aimed at ensuring that the resources to clean up brownfields transferred to successor agencies were available. The bill made fiscal sense as well, because cleaning up these properties prior to sale would yield much more value to the affected taxing entities. However, the bill was recently held by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Sen. Dutton introduced legislation, SB 986, to clarify that previously issued redevelopment bond proceeds could be spent on the infrastructure and other projects, generating jobs. After taking amendments to remove opposition of the California Professional Firefighters in policy committee, the bill seemed to be on a smoother path. Yet, without notice to the former Republican Leader of the Senate, amendments were inserted into the bill in the Senate Appropriations Committee that gutted all value from the bill and resulted in something worse than existing law. On the Senate Floor Thursday, after amendments proposed by Sen. Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) to restore the previous language were rejected, Sen. Dutton was forced to vote against his own bill. SB 986 died on the Senate Floor with a vote of 7-18.
Sen. Steinberg amended both SB 1151 and SB 1156 on the Senate Floor on May 29, prior to their passage to the Assembly on Thursday. The League is reviewing the recent amendments and will issue a revised analysis soon. Both bills remain major works in progress.
The amendments to SB 1151 propose that all assets (cash and real property) of a former redevelopment agency be placed in a trust and administered by a joint-powers authority under SB 1156 or an oversight board pursuant to a long-range asset management plan, but the plan must be approved by the Department of Finance, which is authorized to pull assets from the plan to offset impacts to schools and local agencies. It remains unclear how this process would be preferable to ABx1 26.
The amendments to SB 1156 enable a city and county to establish a joint powers authority, called a Sustainable Communities Investment Authority, empowered to carry out the powers of redevelopment law. Questions remain about the potential usefulness of this tool. The language is confusing. Four different governance structures are proposed, but all operate under a city-county JPA. The authority would be limited to producing affordable housing, but other provisions mention various forms of economic development. A metropolitan planning organization must also concur with the plan. Tax increment would not be collected on the portion of property tax assigned to schools and special districts. New public bidding requirements would apply to projects more than $1 million.
Some of the concepts from AB 1585, SB 986 and SB 1335 could always emerge again in the context of the budget discussions, but the handling of these measures so far in the Senate has been a disappointment.