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City budget won’t include $40 million to save redevelopment agency

on June 28, 2011

With a debate over the city budget looming this evening, there’s one item that won’t be factored into it—how to come up with $40 million to save Oakland’s redevelopment agency.

Members of the city’s Redevelopment Agency and Finance and Management Committee met Tuesday afternoon at City Hall to discuss the state budget. On June 15, in an effort to help close California’s $9.5 billion deficit, the state senate and assembly passed a two-bill package that would save an estimated $1.7 billion—one bill eliminates redevelopment agencies entirely, and the other would allow them to remain as long as cities make annual payments to fund school districts.

For Oakland, that amount would include a $40 million payment in 2011-12 redevelopment funds, and then $10 million in annual payments, Sabrina Landreth, the budget director for the city administrator, said at the meeting. The city will proceed with its budget as if they are not going to have to pay the money, Landreth said when questioned by councilmember Patricia Kernighan.

The city’s redevelopment agency will lay out the impact of coming up with $40 million during the budget presentation at the city council meeting tonight, said Gregory Hunter of the Community and Economic Development Agency. Councilmember Jane Brunner requested the presentation include information on police officers paid by the redevelopment agency. Redevelopment money currently covers the salaries of 17 police officers.

Also at the meeting Tuesday, the committee approved a pilot program where people can call a toll-free number to pay their parking meters, at no additional cost to the city. The program is expected to increase the city’s parking revenue.


  1. Brian on June 28, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Killing the redevelopment agency will actually help Oakland’s economy.

  2. len raphael on June 30, 2011 at 1:25 am

    Much of the non partisan good government criticism of Redevelopment Districts is simply that they did an expensive job and failed to redevelope much of anything.

    The other part of that is the assumption, that I’m not sure is correct, that if the cities hadn’t grabbed the redevelopment tax monies, then the state would have given substantially more to k-12 and to muni general fund.

    My hunch is that California would have found ways to spend most of that money on it’s own employee compensation and pet projects.

    Regardless, Oakland is known as cutting edge in using its RDA funds for expenses that normally would be General Fund expenditures such as police and a large percentage of the salaries of its public works and building planning/zoning departments.

    While it might have been illegal if anyone had sued the city, no one did. The problem is the City Council, the Mayor, and Department Heads spent RDA money without the transparency and scrutiny that General Fund expenditures get. They had themselves and the voters convinced that RDA funds were “free money” that they could spend how they wanted. And did.

    That’s how we got loans to the Black Muslim and the Merrit bakeries, and really big really bad loans to shaky developers. That’s how we ended up owning the huge empty Ascend/Zhone building near the airport. That’s how we could throw money to feed the Chiodo Monster.

    Basically, the RDA money didn’t come out of any interest group’s budget, so the Council were like teenagers with momy and daddy’s debit card.

    Might be too late to “sell” the Kaiser complex to the RDA for the absurd 29Mill valuation. If so, this year’s budget just lost it’s major smokey mirror.

    It also looks like neither San Jose nor Oakland will be able to outspend each other on keeping/getting the A’s.

    -len raphael, temescal

    • Brian on June 30, 2011 at 11:13 am

      Bingo. It’s a slush fund.

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