State siphons redevelopment funds from California cities

FRESNO, California Two-billion dollars in redevelopment funds will be moved to a state education fund. Fresno's Redevelopment Agency sent $6.7 million to the state.

Blighted areas of Downtown Fresno represent broken dreams. The loss of almost $7 million in redevelopment funds means spots in desperate need of sprucing up will be left untouched.

Fresno City Councilmember, Lee Brand said, "I think downtown alone is down to a million dollars. You look at all those square blocks. What can you really do with a million dollars?"

The push to revitalize downtown becomes much more difficult because long-range promises can't be made without adequate funding. Affordable housing projects are also on hold.

"For a city our size it's a huge amount on the Redevelopment Agency. It makes a difference in the types of projects we can look at," said Brand.

Clovis is sending the state $1.7 million. Mayor Harry Armstrong says the money was desperately needed to help attract business.

Clovis Mayor, Harry Armstrong said, "Some of the project areas along the Clovis-Shaw Avenue corridor are going to lose out and of course there will be monies we won't be able to update housing."

Armstrong says the money lost will result in the loss of jobs and hinder economic development.

"It's very unfair. Redevelopment has been a tool over the years that's helped come into areas that are depressed, older areas to help turn them around," said Mayor Armstrong.

And it's not a one-time deal. Fresno Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Marlene Murphy says next year the RDA must give the state $1.5 million more.

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