This piece originally ran in the Alhambra Source. It concerns an example of how a recent California state law dissolving redevelopment agencies affects local communities.
The Alhambra Redevelopment Agency will cease to exist as of February 1, like dozens of others throughout California, and the city of Alhambra is charged with selling off assets and finding a successor agency.
City Manager Julio Fuentes told the Pasadena Star-News that two of three current redevelopment projects may be in jeopardy: Alhambra Place, the site of the former Mervyns building which has been vacant since 2009, and the commercial development at Fremont Plaza. The Howard Street Townhome units, an affordable housing project off Main Street, should be protected if a successor housing agency takes over the project, as Fuentes is recommending. The city would assume the debt obligations, but would not receive revenue from the project.
Fuentes said he does not know how many Alhambra employees will lose their jobs. About half a dozen city employees are paid through the agency. Some have dual appointments, including Fuentes, where the payment supplements other positions.
Monterey Park will probably have to lay off about 10 employees, West Covina between 40 and 60 employees, and Covina six to 10 employees, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. Los Angeles voted Wednesday to discard its redevelopment agency and its 192 employees, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The role of redevelopment agencies has been hotly debated as the state attempts to fix its budget. Proponents say that the agencies are instrumental in turning blighted areas into vibrant business centers.
“Redevelopment has created value where there was no value before that,” said Councilwoman Barbara Messina at Monday’s City Coucil meeting. “You look at our Toys R Us. There was no value attached to that property. You look at the two parking structures we built. We created value for our city.”
Opponents, however, say that tax revenue that was supposed to be directed for blighted areas has now been used as a general development fund. California Governor Jerry Brown determined that these funds would be better directed toward schools and other public services.