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Our View: Redevelopment funds in jeopardy

Posted: January 15, 2012 1:30 a.m.
Updated: January 15, 2012 1:30 a.m.
 


For anyone who’s taken notice of all the many improvements in Old Town Newhall and thought, “Wow, how’d the city afford all this?” a large part of the answer is redevelopment money allocated from the state — and it might be drying up soon.

Redevelopment, as defined by the California Redevelopment Association, is: “A process authorized under California law that enables local governments to revitalize deteriorated and blighted areas in their jurisdictions.” In other words, it allows for cities all over the state to fix up run-down but important areas, often to help long-term economic health.

Much to the chagrin of the city, and anyone who’s liked the progress made in the once-run-down areas of historic Old Town Newhall, the state Supreme Court has recently ruled in favor of the legality of ABX1 26, otherwise known as the Redevelopment Elimination Bill.

The state Legislature is effectively pulling funding to the program and diverting that money back into education spending.

According to city officials, over the past five years, Santa Clarita has invested $48 million in redevelopment projects in Newhall, and the redevelopment agency has created more than 300 jobs since 2006, including 135 last year. The city has used redevelopment funds on projects, such as the Newhall Community Center, the Newhall Metrolink Station and parking lot, Creekview Park, the new streetscape on Main Street, Veterans Plaza, the new library, building improvement grants for business owners and the Railroad and Newhall Avenue roadway improvements.

The changes have also encouraged private businesses to better the look and layouts of their stores and storefronts, ultimately improving the look and feel of Old Town Newhall. And, with the city’s monthly Senses block parties, it’s encouraged more visitors to patronize the shops and help the local economy.

If redevelopment is eliminated, it means that the proposed new affordable housing, roundabout project for Newhall Avenue, development of the city-owned block adjacent to the new library, construction of a future parking structure and a marketing and branding campaign for Newhall will likely not come to fruition. The new library will still be finished, but future projects are in jeopardy.

Santa Clarita is partnering with the California Redevelopment Association and the League of California Cities to work with lawmakers and develop legislation to revive redevelopment in order to protect local jobs and neighborhoods.

But, in the mean time, Democratic state Sen. Alex Padilla has recently proposed SB 659, a bill that delays the elimination of redevelopment agencies from Feb. 1 to April 15 to give supporters of the program a fighting chance to show Sacramento how vital it is and to possibly work out a compromise situation.

We hope, for Santa Clarita and other cities’ sakes, that members of the Legislature come to their senses and realize the importance and positive impact that redevelopment has on the state and local economies.

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