Dozens of local city leaders and officials, business members and community residents gathered on the steps of the Long Beach Police Department headquarters on July 21 for one common goal– to announce their support for a lawsuit filed three days earlier by the League of California Cities and California Redevelopment Association (RDA) seeking to overturn the state’s attempt to eliminate redevelopment with the passage of Assembly Bills 1×26 and 1×27.
Led by Long Beach Vice Mayor/2nd District Councilmember Suja Lowenthal, the press conference provided a platform for the various city officials and redevelopment agency representatives to voice their concerns against the potential citywide redevelopment elimination that would halt the construction and renovation of many future projects. Construction of the $490 million, 31-courtroom Long Beach Courthouse would not be affected under the bills with completion slated for late 2013.
The lawsuit requests a stay to prevent the legislation from going into effect until the court can rule on the merits of the case. The petition filed asks the Supreme Court to make an initial ruling on the request for stay by Aug. 15.
“These bills are unconstitutional– we believe this, and it will be proven with certainty,” Lowenthal said. “They violate numerous provisions of the California constitution. Most directly, they violate Proposition 22, passed overwhelmingly by our voters in this state just this past November, which prohibits the state from raiding, shifting or otherwise redirecting local redevelopment funds.”
Lowenthal, along with League of California Cities president Jim Ridenour, Signal Hill Mayor Larry Forester and Long Beach Redevelopment Agency board member John Thomas, stressed the vital role the agencies play in local city development and shared some of the significant projects underway as a direct result of RDAs.
Ridenour said Sacramento continues to pick the pockets of local governments to solve its budget problems. “It’s unconstitutional and it must stop,” he said. “Voters want redevelopment dollars to stay in their communities. They want jobs, they want economic development, they want affordable housing, they want to clean up abandoned properties, and none of this is done without redevelopment funds.”
AB 1×26 and 1×27 were passed with the state budget in June and fall under violation of Prop. 22, which was passed last year. AB 1×26 would abolish redevelopment agencies, and AB 1×27 would allow agencies to exist in some limited capacity only if they agree to pay a “ransom” payment of $1.7 billion statewide in the first year and $400 million statewide each year thereafter.
Ridenour also read aloud text that directly falls under Proposition 22, which states that state politicians in Sacramento are completely prohibited from ceasing, diverting, shifting, borrowing, transferring, suspending and or otherwise taking or interfering with revenue that has been dedicated to funding services provided by local government.
Forester said the state is holding city communities up for ransom. “Legislators who voted for this will forever be remembered as destroying our communities and eliminating the best tool we have for revitalizing neighborhoods and creating jobs,” he said.
According to Thomas, RDAs have contributed over $148 million in public improvements since 2002.
Under the terms of AB 1×27, cities have until Oct. 1 to notify the state that they are going to make the required payments to continue their redevelopment activities.