Mayors lobby for redevelopment agencies


By Khalida Sarwari

Bay City News Service

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed will join nine other California mayors heading to Sacramento on Wednesday to tell Gov. Jerry Brown how his proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies throughout the state to balance the budget will harm the economy.

"Given the difficult times California is in, I am shocked that Sacramento is looking to eliminate the only tools we have to spur job creation, increase tax revenues, and induce economic growth," Reed said in a statement.

As part of his 2012 fiscal year budget, Brown has proposed eliminating redevelopment agencies throughout the state and diverting an estimated $1.7 billion in redevelopment revenue to schools, public safety, and to help close the state's $25.4 billion deficit. The state Legislature has not yet acted on the proposal.

San Jose has joined a growing list of cities that have taken action to protect some of its redevelopment funds.

Redevelopment agencies and enterprise zones are one of the few tools that California has to attract and retain jobs, said Michelle McGurk, a spokesman for Reed.

She said the redevelopment agencies support an average of 304,000 full and part-time jobs, including 170,600 construction jobs.

Annually, redevelopment agencies contribute more than $40 billion to California's economy in the generation of goods and services, and redevelopment construction activities contribute $2 billion to local and state taxes, McGurk said.

But in the last decade, while Texas has added more than 1 million new workers and Arizona has added nearly 400,000, California has not added any, even while experiencing an increase in population, McGurk said.

"That's part of the reason why we have such a high unemployment rate," she said.

That is the message that Reed and nine of California's Big 10 Mayors will emphasize in the meeting, which is scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. in the governor's office, followed by a news conference on the steps of the State Capitol at 3 p.m.

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