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Thursday, 17 December 2009 16:00

011911

The plan to buy Castro Valley’s old library site on Redwood Road and turn it into a community resource center would become a victim of the governor’s plan to eliminate the state’s redevelopment agencies.


 

By Robert Souza

CASTRO VALLEY FORUM

Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to eliminate California’s more than 400 redevelopment agencies as part of his proposed $12.5 billion in budget cuts would mean the end of many Castro Valley projects.


“The only word that comes to mind is devastating,” said Eileen Dalton, Alameda County Redevelopment Director. “To end redevelopment would damage all the good work we are doing in all the communities.”


Among programs that would have to be abandoned in Castro Valley are the purchase of the old library building on Redwood Road, the downtown shared-parking project near Knudsen’s Ice Creamery, retail development purchases, and redevelopment around the Chabot Theater and the new library.


The disappearance of her agency, Dalton said, would jeopardize a number of other projects across the county that are awaiting final contracts.


Because the governor’s proposal would protect all existing redevelopment financial obligations, two other major downtown projects would not be affected – the $8.9 million dollar Streetscape Project which is underway, and the purchase of the old Daughtrey building, Dalton said.

“A lot is unknown right now, we’re still in a mode of gathering information on how to best react to this. It’s really a shame because we’re just getting into a lot of great community projects we have been planning and saving for,” said Dalton.


Graffiti abatement, business facade improvement and community code enforcement programs would also end in June, according to Dalton. She urged residents to contact their state legislators who are expected to vote on final reductions by March.


The Alameda County Redevelopment Agency last year budgeted $18 million for the unincorporated area, including $4 million in Castro Valley, Ashland and San Lorenzo, $5 million in Cherryland, and $600,000 in the Mt. Eden and Foothill areas.


While acknowledging that redevelopment “has done some important things,’’ Brown said “redevelopment takes money from schools and cities and counties, and the state has to backfill and make up for the property taxes taken by redevelopment.”


Critics of redevelopment agencies say Brown’s move is long overdue, but others said the proposal is short-sighted in the extreme, and could spell disaster if enacted.


“This proposal to eliminate redevelopment is more budget smoke and mirrors that will bring little financial gain for the State, but will cause widespread and significant economic pain in communities throughout California,” said California Redevelopment Association Executive Director John Shirey. “It is another gimmick that will likely result in extensive litigation.”


The governor could face a legal hitch to his proposal in that Prop. 22, approved  by voters in November, prohibits the state from taking money from local governments.

 

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