A cloud of uncertainty still hangs over more than 100 workers in The City’s now-defunct Redevelopment Agency, which was eliminated late last year by state legislation and subsequent legal wrangling.
Under the legislation that killed about 400 agencies statewide, cities and counties are allowed to appoint oversight boards to continue work that was already under contract, but projects not far enough along — and the staff that oversaw them — will be scrapped.
Now, the City’s new oversight board is obligated to identify the agency’s surviving projects and how many staff members will be kept on to see them through, before a layoff deadline currently set for March 30. But labor unions representing the impacted employees are not happy about the level of communication coming from city decision makers.
“We’d like to shed some light on the lack of transparency throughout this process,” Leah Berlanga, a field director for Service Employees International Union Local 1021, said. “Here we are, 30 days later, still no transition plan in place, no clue as to what’s going to happen to the workers.”
Berlanga helped lead a march on City Hall last week when the oversight board voted 4-3 to urge Mayor Ed Lee to extend the layoff deadline by 90 days so complex project plans can be reassessed to determine if they qualify for survival. Projects identified by The City for continued funding from the state include the massive Hunters Point Shipyard redevelopment plan, the revamp of Mission Bay and parts of the downtown Transbay Terminal project.
Smaller projects, such as a remake of the shuttered Schlage Lock factory site in Visitacion Valley and a planned makeover for businesses on 3rd Street in the Bayview District, are likely to languish.
“The City is only going after the big-ticket items,” Berlanga surmised.
Labor leaders say they may ask politicians in Sacramento to intervene if the Mayor’s Office moves forward with sizable layoffs.
Christine Falvey, a spokeswoman for Mayor Ed Lee, noted that the tumult was caused by state action, and said no final determination has been made on how many workers will keep their jobs.
Bob Muscat, an oversight committee member who voted for the 90-day extension plea last week, said The City should take more time to identify parts of the smaller projects to keep the state funding alive. Redevelopment agencies were once allowed to borrow a portion of property taxes to repair blighted areas on the promise of future tax revenue.
“This is a difficult problem to face and hopefully we’ve turned a corner on it,” Muscat said. “I don’t think it has gone as well as it should have.”
Projects going forward
Hunters Point Shipyard redevelopment
Mission Bay revamp
Transbay Terminal rebuild
Projects likely to languish
Schlage Lock factory
3rd Street makeover in Bayview
Source: S.F. Examiner reporting