Gov. Jerry Brown defends cutting redevelopment projects


It was a hard sell. Brown pitched a money-saving idea unpopular among local leaders who depend on property tax money to revitalize areas.

Brown defended his plan to a crowd of city leaders who don't really like the idea of the state taking $1.7 billion of redevelopment money from them to help offset cuts to public schools and social programs. Brown says everyone must share in the sacrifice.

"I don't see this as a time for turf wars," says Brown. "We're short of money, cities are short of money; and schools are laying off teachers. I mean, we're all in a tough situation. So we've to think as Californians first."

The remarks come as numerous local agencies in the last few days frantically began spending redevelopment money, before Brown can take it. The funds help revitalize blighted neighborhoods.

Los Angeles was the first to move, approving $930 million of projects. Riverside County signed off on $155 million, the city of Fremont signed off on $140 million, and Citrus Heights pushed through $60 million.

Critics say the moves are an attempted end-run around Brown's budget proposal and only subsidize developers.

"They're saying we want to get ours now and we'll leave it up to the rest of you to figure out how to solve the state's fiscal crisis. We just think that's an unbelievably callous approach," says Carroll Wills from California Professional Firefighters.

But local leaders say those projects create jobs and point to the successful revitalization of Old Pasadena and Brown's old turf, Downtown Oakland.

"How are we going to be able to create jobs if don't have the tools to attract businesses, to retain businesses and do improvements in areas?" asks Downey Mayor Luis Marquez.

Even Brown said he understands the value of redevelopment funds, having used such money himself as Oakland's mayor to restore the historic Fox Theater.

"So, I'm sure glad I got it built before this damn budget came out!" says Brown.

Brown aren't so sure those rush approvals are legal. He eventually wants to eliminate redevelopment agencies all together.

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