Wary of Governor Brown’s intent to dismantle redevelopment and weary of budget woes, the San Jose Redevelopment Authority laid off nearly half of its staff and is ready to cut almost all of the rest, according to the Merc’s Tracy Seipel. Some city backers feel SJRA’s work is unappreciated and unfinished, while redevelopment detractors consider the agency a bloated, wasteful example of government overreach. SJRA has been winding down its work over the past year, with only a few projects remaining.
Other than a much-hoped-for baseball stadium in downtown San Jose, a 700-plus-unit housing development in the area north of downtown’s San Pedro Square and infrastructure improvements within the agency’s 21 project areas, there isn’t much left on the agency’s plate.
Of course, there’s the fact that the City created the San Jose Diridon Development Authority last month. This “Son of RDA,” as I coined it then, will have the power to do virtually everything that SJRA can do now, except that it will be restricted to a specific part of downtown San Jose including the ballpark site. The lawsuit by the county that threatened the newborn agency? Settled. SJDDA currently has no website, no specific projects, and no end date. For now its only limitations are what the City and various public and private interests dream up for the district. That includes a ballpark, San Jose’s “Grand Central Terminal,” a small mixed-use development, just about anything.
So while Dandy Don Meredith may be singing while SJRA head Harry Mavrogenes turns out the lights, it’s likely that some of the agency staff, including Mavrogenes, will end up with similar jobs at SJDDA. Mavrogenes was a signatory to the joint powers agreement.
Redevelopment is dead. Long live redevelopment. Especially if the City makes it happen.
Update 4/8 2:10 PM – The first payment made by the City to the County as part of the settlement was made on schedule, with additional payments forthcoming. When you have to make a $21 million payment with only a few weeks to spare, costcutting measures such as layoffs have a good chance of happening.