With the Legislature’s budget conference committee
scheduled to finish its work tomorrow having finished its work late this afternoon, and with Oakland City Council having spent today in a tizzy over Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to eliminate California’s local redevelopment agencies and redirect their money to help cover the state’s budget deficit, I just had a chat with Assemblyman Sandre Swanson.
Swanson said he appreciates the “refreshing, transparent truth” Brown has brought to the budget process, but while some lawmakers’ districts don’t rely heavily on redevelopment spending, his does. “I would say it’s critical to my district” for furthering affordable housing and economic development, he said, citing as an example the redevelopment of Oakland’s Fox Theater and other Uptown-area projects which sparked that neighborhood’s renaissance.
“Since redevelopment dollars have been so integrated into the city’s operations, if you were to cut it out, we would end up losing thousands of jobs in Oakland,” Swanson said. “I just don’t know how other cities would handle it, but it would be devastating for Oakland. At this point I support the mayors who went to Sacramento, the eight to 10 big-city mayors including Mayor Quan, asking for some sort of alternative to this.”
As for Brown’s proposal’s chances in the Legislature, “I don’t think it’s a clear-cut question at this point,” he said. “I think the proposal being backed by the governor certainly has the momentum, but I think Democrats and Republicans alike are hearing from their cities and most people in Sacramento are hoping there can be some kind of compromise developed.”
“I just haven’t seen any kind of progress to date on reaching this kind of deal,” he acknowledged, although a lot can still happen before it comes to floor votes. “No matter what the leadership may suggest and the party’s position may be on this, I think many of these votes have to become votes of conscience. We have to be informed by the practical impact in each of our districts.”