Taking stock as the post-redevelopment era begins
It’s never too early to declare winners and losers that were made as a result of today’s earthshattering news.
First the losers:
- Backers of the Victory Court site. The site was heavily dependent on tax increment (redevelopment funds) to buy the land and pay for improvements. Now that’s out of the question.
- The City of Oakland. Strategically, it chose to sit back and wait for the originally passed “pay-to-play” ransom plan, which was scuttled today. Now they not only have no way to do redevelopment, they’re stuck trying to figure out how to fill in major holes that have just opened in the City’s budget that were filled by a large redevelopment operating budget.
- San Jose Redevelopment Agency. As far as old school redevelopment goes, the City is now handcuffed with no way to raise funds. Of course, the City had already been choking the life out of SJRA by finishing several projects, laying off staff, and not taking on new projects. One word: prescient.
- Affordable housing advocates. Not directly related to stadium building, but it’s a big point of emphasis for redevelopment backers. And consider this: any large mixed-use plan including residential development in any major city in California would require an affordable housing component. Who’s gonna subsidize that now? Already, San Diego is looking for a legislative means to bring back a scaled down version of redevelopment with a focus on affordable housing.
- Oakland Raiders. Any options the Raiders may have been considering elsewhere in Bay Area (aside from the Coliseum and Santa Clara) have to be considered nonstarters at this point.
- Redevelopment agency employees. Many agencies had planned for the “pay-to-play” scenario. This is armageddon. Good luck to them.
- Anyone with a downtown gentrification initiative. Those projects are now for the birds.
- Lew Wolff and Baseball San Jose. If Wolff and his people were secretly rooting for redevelopment to wither and die, they certainly weren’t showing it. But the decision today has such wide ranging, powerful effects on municipalities throughout the state, that’s it’s easy to envision Lew Wolff sitting in his office, thinking, Okay, that narrows the field. With the MLB panel’s report distributed prior to today’s news, they probably laid out several scenarios, and the owners have to be aware by now the ramifications – if not by the panel’s report, then by the news reports. And that plays right into Wolff’s plans. If there was ever a tipping point event for a decision on San Jose, this is it.
- San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. It was Reed who oversaw the winding down of SJRA and the creation of SJDDA (SJ Diridon Development Authority) to sidestep the state raid. There may be a legal challenge against SJDDA, but where will it come from? The State doesn’t have the resources to start going after dozens, if not hundreds of redevelopment agencies. Santa Clara County might, but it seems the County got what it wanted by having redevelopment eliminated. Everything else is a matter of negotiation. As noted before: prescient.
- San Francisco 49ers and Santa Clara. They got their tasks done before the end of the year. Now it’s a matter of selling suites and seat licenses, plus getting the Raiders on board.
- Your local municipality’s General Fund and local schools. While the State will get a portion of the newly realized tax increment, part of it will be returned to cities, counties, and school districts. For cities with very large redevelopment areas such as San Jose and Oakland, this could actually mean a windfall of sorts, or at least a way to shore up their budgets. How much will it help? That’s for the bean counters to figure out.
- Governor Jerry Brown. The beautiful irony of this situation is that Jerry Brown used redevelopment in Oakland as a stepping stone to get him back in power in Sacramento. Now he’s killed redevelopment. That’s an experienced politician.
Too early to tell:
- San Francisco Giants. The death of redevelopment may tip MLB in the A’s favor. Then again, it may not. One thing to consider: the Giants overtures towards the Warriors about getting an arena in Mission Bay may be negatively affected by the ruling.
- Backers of the Coliseum City plan. The Coliseum is part of a separate joint-powers agreement which allows the Coliseum Authority to raise money for its own projects. The track record isn’t great (Mt. Davis) but the power remains. Still, Coliseum City came about as part of a major planning and redevelopment initiative in and around the Coliseum and Airport. Now at least half of that project has been rendered irrelevant, which could have cascading effects on the Coliseum. On one hand, the Coliseum could be considered one of the only places with land where something could get done. On the other hand, the Coliseum is still pretty much limited to contributing site and infrastructure improvements, with little ability to contribute directly to any new facility or refurbishment. It’s also at the mercy of private developers to flesh out Coliseum City, which given the area, is definitely not a given.
It was hard enough getting something built in California with the state of the economy. Now, if you don’t at least have something already underway or an existing facility or land from which to base improvements, you may as well not show up. Redevelopment as an industry is over. Now bring on the new industry of “creatively” financing traditionally redevelopment-oriented projects.