By James R. Riffel
City News Service
San Diego city officials on Tuesday day outlined an ambitious multibillion-dollar plan to sequester hundreds of proposed improvement projects from what they described as a state raid on redevelopment money.
The city wants to approve the projects quickly in case a plan by Gov.Jerry Brown to phase out redevelopment agencies is carried out. Contracts signed before the agencies are eliminated would remain in force.
City Council President Tony Young told reporters the idea was to "put redevelopment dollars out of reach before the state takes it away."
Mayor Jerry Sanders said the proposed projects would "make their communities safer, create jobs and promote economic vitality." All have been publicly vetted, he said.
The 79-page list of projects include more than $1 billion for affordable housing, $1 billion for upgrading infrastructure and $340 million for creating parks and libraries, "the hallmarks of good neighborhoods," Sanders said.
Most of the projects are for a few hundred thousand dollars apiece and involve sidewalk improvements and street lighting in various neighborhoods in the coming years.
Spending for future affordable housing and infrastructure improvements totals $220 million in City Heights; $181 million in areas served by the Southeastern Development Corp.; $176 million in the College Grove/Crossroads area; $162 million in Grantville; $162 million in North Park; and $140 million in San Ysidro.
The spending includes numerous projects envisioned over a period of years, if not decades.
Most of the funding would come from tax revenues generated by previous redevelopment.
Among the big-ticket expenditures are:
-- $150 million for environmental cleanup at the Metropolitan Transit System bus yard;
-- $120 million to acquire property for downtown parks and open space;
-- $107 million over 27 years to develop business along Pacific Highway near Lindbergh Field;
-- $94 million to make certain downtown streets friendlier to bicycles, pedestrians and transit;
-- $63 million to put new businesses and housing on the site of the Valley View Casino Center, commonly known as the Sports Arena; and
-- $57 million for a 1,000-space parking structure at Tailgate Park in the East Village.
The polluted MTS bus yard could be the site of a new stadium for the Chargers, but city officials say the land needs to be cleaned up no matter what ends up there.
The Pacific Highway project is in anticipation of future expansion of Lindbergh Field, which could place terminals or transit facilities on that side of the airport.
City officials credit the redevelopment process, which takes part of the tax proceeds from one project and uses it to fund future construction, with revitalizing downtown and creating affordable housing.
The governor wants cities to use all of the tax income for their stretched general funds.
However, since tax revenues are filtered through Sacramento, local officials do not believe they'll see much of the money.
"What it is really doing is stealing money" so the state government can balance its own deficit-riddled books and "avoid real reform, Sanders