One thing is certain: the Seal Beach Redevelopment Agency is over as of Tuesday. How that affects millions of dollars in state funding for local projects such as the purchase of open space at the DWP property or the construction of a new community pool remains to be seen.
This has a very big impact,” said Seal Beach Director of Development Services Mark Persico. “At this point, there are more questions than answers on redevelopment and how redevelopment is going to be unwound.”
Redevelopment Agencies statewide, which existed to oversee and fund projects to improve blight in the community and provide affordable housing, were officially abolished thanks to a state law and court ruling, which effectively transferred more than a billion from city redevelopment agencies back into state coffers. Cities such as Seal Beach appointed their city councils to act as successor agencies in a bid to retain redevelopment funding, but it remains to be seen if they will get to keep the money.
Several larger cities such as Long Beach have lost millions of dollars in the dissolution of redevelopment and cities such as Westminster have had to layoff staff, said Persico. Current state law doesn’t provide clear instructions for cities on whether successor agencies can still use the state funding to continue redevelopment area projects.
“There is going to have to be some sort of clean-up legislation drafted,” added Persico.
Last year, the city received $2.2 million for redevelopment projects, but because of the dissolution of redevelopment, the city has had to complete the Bridgeport storm drain project with $1.8 million from the general fund this year. Additionally, city officials had hoped to use redevelopment money for the $1.1 million purchase of 6.4-acres of open space at the DWP property and to help fund the expansion of Marina Park, which could be a possible location for a new community pool.
Seal Beach’s redevelopment area was nearly 42 years old, and it extended from west of First Street to PCH and includes the Electric Avenue greenbelt and portions of Hellman Ranch. Redevelopment agencies were funded by increased tax revenues generated by projects in their areas. The agencies use the revenue to invest in additional projects in areas deemed "blighted." Supporters of redevelopment argue it is the best economic development tool to spur projects that private investors would otherwise not build.
But critics said the agencies long ago stopped being a catalyst to reinvigorate blighted neighborhoods and evolved into a honey pot for commercial projects that had nothing to do with reversing blight.