San Jose, Union City sue state over laws that kill redevelopment agencies

July 19, 2011

By Tracy Seipel, Mercury News

San Jose, Union City and other supporters of the state’s 398 active redevelopment agencies filed a lawsuit Monday against the state asking the California Supreme Court to overturn two recently enacted laws that eliminate or take money away from the agencies.

They contend the laws, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last month as part of the state budget, are unconstitutional because they violate Prop. 22, passed by voters last fall prevent the state from raiding local tax coffers, including redevelopment agencies.

The lawsuit, which was filed directly in the state’s highest court in order to expedite a ruling, also asks the court to issue a stay by Aug. 15 to prevent the legislation from going into effect until the court can rule on the merits of the claims.

The suit was also filed on behalf of the California Redevelopment Association, which represents the state’s active redevelopment agencies, and the League of California Cities. The cities of Brentwood, Oakland, Modesto, West Sacramento, and Guadalupe also filed declarations in support of the lawsuit.

“California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 22 just eight months ago to stop state raids, shifts and diversions of local redevelopment funds,” said Chris McKenzie, executive director of the League of California Cities, in a statement.

“The governor and legislature have blatantly ignored the voters and violated the state constitution. We must now go to the Supreme Court to uphold the voters’ will and the constitution by overturning this unconstitutional legislation. We are confident the courts will uphold the will of the voters.”


In its declaration, San Jose said that, unless overturned, the two laws would kill hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of vital redevelopment projects. They include the Strong Neighborhoods Initiative, a project to revitalize 20 of the city’s most disadvantaged and struggling residential neighborhoods; a flood control project needed to protect industrial properties; and several interchange widening projects near Highway 101.

Union City, meanwhile, said the elimination of its agency will kill its “Station District Plan” to create a transit-oriented development near BART and multiple rail lines, with planned housing, office, commercial development and pedestrian and roadway connections on formerly contaminated industrial land.

The project has been in the planning and implementation process for several decades, and the agency has already invested tens of millions of dollars in it.

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