Why we can’t afford to lose redevelopment

Roseville mayor offers her opinion
By: Mayor Pauline Roccucci, City of Roseville
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We expected change. Given the dire straits of the state budget, cities like ours knew there would be give-and-take in the way tax revenues are used throughout the state.

But it’s turned out to be all “take.” The California Legislature’s vote to eliminate redevelopment agencies throughout the state has significant and immediate effects on cities like Roseville. Those who voted to eliminate redevelopment agencies use broad-stroke generalizations to justify their vote.

But the facts about what we’ve accomplished demonstrate how crucial redevelopment is to our community.

Supports revitalization: The Historic Old Town area of Roseville was notably the most blighted area in the community. We used $3 million of redevelopment funds to help fund the $13 million Historic District Streetscape/Infrastructure project, completed in 2009, including undergrounding utilities and improving aging infrastructure. Its success demonstrates the potential of redevelopment investment.

Following completion of the project, 11 new businesses have opened in this area, employing more than 65 people and generating new sales tax.

Supports public safety: In April 2010, the agency completed the construction of a $10 million dollar streetscape and infrastructure project on Riverside Avenue. The area is now capable of supporting fire sprinkler requirements and meets fire hydrant standards. This also allows for buildings more than 3,600 square feet to be built in that area. The installation of 16 new fire hydrants has resulted in a safer neighborhood.

Supports housing: The Redevelopment Agency is currently working on two mixed-use projects in the area that would provide about 160 new affordable housing units and about 6,000 square feet of new commercial space. Upon securing a building permit, these projects will be the first new buildings constructed in the area since 1960 and provide 340 new jobs.

Supports schools: The agency currently has agreements in place with the five local school districts. Annually the agency provides 8 percent of its revenue as a pass through to these schools. In the 2010-11 fiscal year, this amounted to about $490,000. Over the past 11 years, the agency has provided $4.5 million in total payments to schools.

The development of affordable housing projects funded by the agency also produces revenues for schools. The mixed-use projects mentioned above will generate about $312,000 in school fees once a building permit is issued.

Why it works: Restoring blighted areas is often economically infeasible for the private sector to do on its own. The initial community improvements made by redevelopment agencies, coupled with their commitment of funds and low-cost financing, reduce the cost and risk factors associated with these projects.

Redevelopment works. It’s vitally important to the future of communities like ours. Without it, revitalizations efforts wither, along with our community’s ability to support public safety, housing and schools.

Investing local tax revenue to address local issues makes economic sense. Cities that demonstrate progressive leadership in reinvesting in the community should serve as models for the state to follow.