San Leandro Moves Quickly For $9 Million In RDA Funds

COUNCIL HOPES TO AGREE ON FOUR IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS BEFORE BROWN PULLS PLUG ON REDEVELOPMENT
By Steven Tavares

The San Leandro Redevelopment Agency had a dream this afternoon and it can’t wait until after the Dr. Martin Luther King holiday to make it come true.

Like many cities in the state, San Leandro is rushing to get contracts on shovel-ready redevelopment projects signed and delivered before Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature can eliminate the multi-billion dollar state program as early as this Spring.

The special meeting of the city council quickly planned for Monday and coinciding with the King holiday hopes to make an end run at Brown’s proposal by giving the thumbs up on four projects totaling nearly $9 million in redevelopment expenditures. A few municipalities in Southern California have chose to gain legal approval for a spate of projects along with local cities in Fremont and Lafayette to name a few.

State budget agencies warned the governor this week of the potential blowback from cities hastily signing contracts for pet project in advance of the proposed elimination of the program. Brown’s plan calls from the end of local redevelopment agencies by July 1 and reserves payment of any residual debts to city’s paid off in the 2011-12 fiscal year.

The projects the redevelopment agency hopes to protect is road improvements to Doolittle Drive and MacArthur Boulevard, streetscape improvements to Hays Street as part of the city’s downtown Transit-Oriented Development. The construction of a two-lane street on Eden Road is also part of Monday’s discussion. A presentation regarding Eden Road was given to the council within the past month before news of Brown’s budget proposal and constitutes the majority of the construction costs for the four projects at $5.8 million.

“City staff has explored potential funding sources and has determined that there is no other source of funds reasonably available to the City to contribute toward the projects due to economic and political factors,” said San Leandro Community Development Director Luke Sims in a memo to City Manager Stephen Hollister.

Potentia funding dollars for the four projects, he said, have been allocated to essential city services such as police and fire. The city has already invested time and money into the four project, he also said. “Failure to complete them would negatively impact the value of the previous investment and impede ongoing efforts to eliminate blight,” said Sims.

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