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By Roz Rogoff

About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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What's next for the RDA?

Uploaded: Jan 6, 2012
Governor Jerry Brown killed the Redevelopment Agencies, and the California Supreme Court removed any possibility of buying them back into existence. So the law suit by the League of California Cities to keep RDAs from being taken over by the State backfired. The California Supreme Court not only upheld the State's right to take RDA money from Cities, but shot down the option to pay an annual fee of $400M for Schools and Public Safety to keep them.

San Ramon has benefited greatly from RDA funds, but in some cases took sweeping moves to rezone areas of the City for redevelopment that didn't really need it. The incentive to tear down older buildings, or service commercial businesses that don't fit the upscale suburban image of our City's leaders, resulted in unnecessary rezoning of an older portion of the City West of the I-680 from Crow Canyon Road to Hooper Drive, between San Ramon Valley Blvd. and Omega Road.

Beta Court was supposed to have a housing overlay for low income housing, but the Planning Commission refused to go along with it. Business owners in Beta Court objected to these plans, but most of them are renters and only property owners have any say over zoning changes or how they want their properties used.

The downturn in the economy limited any changes to that area, referred to as the Crow Canyon Specific Plan, but San Ramon's RDA has made some questionable decisions based more on what they could get out of an area financially then what is best for residents and business in San Ramon. This is why I fought the rezoning of Beta Court and why I'm fighting the destruction of the Mudd's Restaurant building.

The top item on the City Council Agenda for January 10, 2012, is what to do with the RDA. Now that there are no more Redevelopment Agencies, some follow on agency must take over the existing responsibilities of the former RDA's. There are still some projects hanging over from last year, including the disposition of the Mudd's property.

The Council has been preparing for loss of the RDA since the beginning of last year. At the January 25, 2011 RDA Meeting the RDA passed a couple of Resolutions, 2011-001 and 2011-002, for the RDA to "reimburse" the City for Capital Improvements and affordable housing projects. Five Million were allocated for each of these purposes. These Resolutions were then approved in the Consent Calendar at the City Council meeting later that night.

In February 2011, the City Council restored the City's Housing Authority so it could keep the $5M squirreled away for low income housing. "In order to protect unencumbered housing funds and develop future affordable housing on Agency owned parcels, staff recommends that the San Ramon Housing Authority be reactivated. The City Council will act as the Housing Commissioners. This action will protect local funds and ensure that the funds remain local and under local control."

At their upcoming meeting on January 10, 2012 the City will, "Elect to Be or Not to Be the Successor Entity to the San Ramon Redevelopment Agency and Selecting the San Ramon Housing Authority to Assume the Housing Assets and Functions of the Agency." I'm not sure if this means future RDA decisions will be made in the open at City Council meetings, or if there will be subcommittee meetings of the Housing Authority to continue to keep these decisions away from public scrutiny.
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