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Concord Wary of State’s Restructuring of Redevelopment

Councilmember Dan Helix: Finance changes could be ‘disastrous’ to development plans for closed Navy base.

For Concord, Tuesday evening was a hat trick of budgets.

Three budgets that Concordians do or should care about passed on the same night: city of Concord, Mount Diablo Unified School District and the state's by the Legislature.

With it all coming down at the same time, circumstances forced Concord City Manager Dan Keen to multi-task. While he was at the council chambers at the Civic Center monitoring the council’s deliberations and answering questions about the budget, he had his iPad propped up and was watching Internet versions of what was going down in Sacramento.

What was going down was local redevelopment agencies, including Concord’s.

Months ago, when Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown proposed his budget, he sought to save Sacramento millions by eliminating local redevelopment agencies with a plan for different redevelopment financing. As the Legislature passed a budget Tuesday, lobbying about redevelopment continued, and the budget passed with a drastic plan to make systemic changes in funding.

The process angered Keen, monitoring from afar. “Many bills are being voted on that have not even been published,” Keen told the Concord council on Tuesday. “They (legislators) did not have an opportunity to read what they’re passing.”

Keen said the city, y, has sufficient reserves plus money from Measure Q, approved by voters in November, to “take orderly action” in response to redevelopment changes by the state.

The redevelopment restructure will be “disastrous,” said Councilman Dan Helix, particularly for the long-term effort by the city to develop the former Concord Naval Weapons Station.

Some legislators have drafted a bill that would protect cities trying to direct land use on closed military bases from the severe redevelopment changes, Keen said. The state changes would hit capital projects hard, he added.

“Unfortunately, I think it looks like litigation is going to be the route,” said Keen. “It will be very lengthy and very uncertain.”

The California Redevelopment Association and the League of California Cities are mobilizing for legal intervention. Concord City Attorney Craig Labadie said he anticipated the umbrella organizations would be the plaintiffs and not require individual cities to be party to the lawsuit.

John Shirey, executive director of the California Redevelopment Association, said on the association’s website, “We’re deeply disappointed that slim majorities in the Legislature passed this budget that relies on the illegal extortion of revenues from redevelopment agencies that will never materialize.”

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