Monday, January 10, 2011

Redevelopment Agencies – A Proven Tool for Economic Expansion

There has been a great deal written in recent months about the value of Redevelopment Agencies to local economic expansion. As the State continues to wrestle with cutting its own budget deficit, I suspect that more will be written about the subject in recent months. Following is a brief summary about Redevelopment and a list of projects that have made use of this tool in the City of Fontana in recent years.

First, it is important to realize that the creation and use of redevelopment agencies does not change or increase taxes to anyone living within the boundaries of a project area. Under the auspices of Proposition 13, the property tax rate by property owners remains fixed. This remains true whether the property is within a Redevelopment project area or not. In short, the growth in property value over time results in increased revenue to redevelopment agencies. Redevelopment becomes a tool that requires this increase in revenue to be returned and ultimately spent within the project area it is generated in.

There are a number of restrictions on the monies received by a Redevelopment Agency. Twenty (20) percent of the funding received must be used for the creation of low and moderate income housing. Redevelopment revenues can generally not be use to pay for operational expenses such as salaries and public safety.

Apart from the low and moderate income set aside money, the Fontana Redevelopment Agency uses its revenues to build community needed infrastructure that will facilitate new private sector investment in the community. I have read a study that indicates that on average, every dollar of Redevelopment money spent results in an $11 investment from the private sector. It is this synergistic relationship that has allowed the community of Fontana to benefit significantly from investments made by the Redevelopment Agency.

Two years ago, the State raided Redevelopment money in its attempt to balance its budget. This take-away resulted in a $40 million loss for the community of Fontana. This taking of local money has resulted in the deferment of the Duncan Canyon Interchange, elimination of Phase III of the downtown façade program, and deferment of Jurupa Avenue improvements, among others.

Specific examples of projects that have been funded in recent years include:

Baseline Avenue from the city boundary on the west to Mango Avenue on the east
Baseline Avenue storm drain from the city boundary on the west to Mango Avenue of the east
Cherry Avenue from Jurupa Avenue to Slover Avenue
Foothill Boulevard from East Avenue to Hemlock
Jurupa Avenue from Sierra to Poplar
Sierra Avenue from Interstate 10 to San Bernardino Avenue
Sierra Avenue from South Highland to Baseline
South Highland Avenue from San Sevaine to Sierra
Foothill Avenue from Tokay to Almeria
Summit Avenue Storm Drain
Fire Station 79
Etiwanda/Slover traffic signal improvements
Heritage multi-purpose trail
Sewer, street and storm drain improvements at the Empire Center at Sierra and Slover
Knox Avenue from s. Highland to walnut
Summit Avenue from Citrus to Cypress
San Sevaine Trail lighting
Slover Avenue widening
Santa Ana Avenue and Live Oak Intersection improvements
Elm Street Jurupa to Slover
Philadelphia Avenue/San Sevaine Channel improvements
Redwood Avenue Jurupa to Slover
East Avenue Storm Drain
Duncan Canyon Storm Drain
Duncan Canyon Interchange
Walnut Avenue Citrus to Sierra
Valley Blvd. Catawba to Poplar
Lytle Creek Avenue north and south
Chaffey College Campus Expansion
Rehabilitation of Center Stage
Lewis Library
Senior Community Center
Civic Auditorium
Downtown Façade
Pacific Electric Trail System
Citrus/Interstate 10 Interchange
Side walk Improvements
Village of Heritage Community Center
Fontana Park
Jessie Turner Community Center
Ralph M. Lewis Park Field Renovation
210 Sports Park
Central Park
Valley Blvd. Strategic Plan
Foothill Blvd. Streetscapes

Redevelopment Agencies remain a value tool for economic expansion and community development. The City of Fontana has made use of this important tool for several years and has seen the direct benefits from this program. More specific information about Redevelopment can be found on the City’s website at www.fontana.org.