Saturday, January 21, 2012

Riverside Press Enterprise: Bill aims to save redevelopment for closed bases

REDEVELOPMENT: Bill aims to save agencies improving former bases

A state Assembly plan to continue revamping ex-military bases could be expanded to Inland sites

Published: 19 January 2012 06:19 PM

SACRAMENTO — Redevelopment agencies focused on bringing new businesses and other projects to decommissioned military bases could keep operating if legislation taking shape in the Capitol becomes law.

Last month, the California Supreme Court upheld a state law ending redevelopment but voided a second measure that created an alternative program that would have allowed local governments to continue redevelopment if they paid more money to the state.

Several redevelopment agencies created to focus on reusing former military bases, including three in Inland Southern California, are among the roughly 400 agencies now faced with shutting down.

“The burden on those communities is frankly far too great to be able to redevelop large pieces of military land without some kind of economic stimulus tool,” said Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, whose district includes the former Concord Naval Weapons Station.

Bonilla carried legislation last year to exempt the base from the June budget legislation ending redevelopment. The measure died last week, but her office is crafting a new bill that could apply statewide.

In Inland Southern California, three redevelopment agencies focus on reusing Air Force land: the March Joint Powers Authority (the former March Air Force Base), the Inland Valley Development Agency (Norton Air Force Base), and the Victor Valley Economic Development Authority (George Air Force Base).

A.J. Wilson, interim executive director of the Inland Valley agency, which oversees the development of San Bernardino International Airport, said he hopes the Legislature will step in. Military bases did not pay property taxes, so redevelopment of former bases does not cost the state anything, he said.

Wilson also questions whether the state law ending redevelopment applies to his agency, which is the product of legislation passed in 1990. Nearly every other agency in the state was created by a city or county sponsor.
The effort to save redevelopment of former military bases is another piece of the Legislature’s post-Supreme Court landscape.

A bill to postpone the dissolution of redevelopment agencies from the current Feb. 1 deadline to April 15 is pending in the Assembly. Another measure would allow local governments to keep an estimated $2 billion for low- and moderate-income housing.

Any bill, however, would need to get past a skeptical Gov. Jerry Brown. He contends that redevelopment was diverting money from schools and other services and, since the Supreme Court decision, has not seemed interested in reopening the issue.

“I don’t think we can delay this funeral,” Brown said in Los Angeles on Wednesday, when asked about the postponement bill.

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