End to San Francisco redevelopment may be near 

As state budget wrangling continues in Sacramento, San Francisco’s Redevelopment Agency is waiting for the end — or a significant change — to what it does.

The end of the agency in The City could mean the ax for nearly a dozen projects that would provide hundreds of affordable-housing units, according to Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Fred Blackwell.

Blackwell addressed the agency’s commission Tuesday to discuss the limbo condition of two state Assembly bills that passed muster with lawmakers last week, but have yet to be decided by Gov. Jerry Brown, who wants to eliminate the agencies statewide.

“The hit in San Francisco would be pretty substantial,” Blackwell said in a phone interview, noting threats to efforts such as business revitalization on Third Street in the Bayview district and a push to revamp the mid-Market Street neighborhood.

Some of The City’s bigger developments are safe, such as the plan to add 5,700 new homes at Parkmerced, because they are being financed through private capital. Funding for the massive Treasure Island project also should be safe since officials restructured its financing to avoid relying on redevelopment funds.  

Plans to build 10,000 new homes at the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard hinge mainly on redevelopment funds, but Karen Finn, a manager in the governor’s Department of Finance, said in April the project would be safe because Brown has no intention of killing “projects that were under contract, under way.”

Blackwell said it might not be that simple because the project’s second phase — the bulk of new construction — has yet to secure a contract.

“That [statement] is out of line with what’s in black and white in the bill itself,” Blackwell said.

If redevelopment goes by the wayside, successor agencies would execute projects with active construction contracts. But those still in the planning phase — such as the replacement of the Hugo Hotel at Sixth and Howard streets and the rebuild of the Alice Griffith housing project in the Bayview — could be scrapped.

Brown vetoed a primary state budget bill last week, but Assembly bills 26 and 27 would respectively eliminate redevelopment agencies, or force reform by letting them exist only if they pay a large portion of their collected revenue to essential services such as schools and fire departments.

Redevelopment supporters have threatened to file a lawsuit if the bills pass because they contend it is a violation of voter-approved Proposition 22, which prevents the cash-strapped state from raiding local government coffers.

If redevelopment morphs into a less potent funding source, work would slow significantly, Blackwell said. Essentially, the local agency would have to find money it doesn’t have in the upcoming fiscal year’s $289 million budget.

“We will have to find $24 million to redirect to the schools, and that’s money we do not have budgeted,” Blackwell said.



Tearing ’em down

Projects that would be affected if the Redevelopment Agency is defunded include:

  • Transbay Transit Center: Although the project also is overseen by the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, some funding depends on revenue from Redevelopment Agency projects on state land in The City
  • Alice Griffith housing project: Rebuild of venue in Bayview district
  • Hugo Hotel: Demolition and replacement building at the site of the hotel and its art installation, “Defenestration,” at Sixth and Howard streets
  • 5800 Third St.: Senior housing at location in Bayview district
  • Market-Octavia neighborhood: Housing development on the parcels formerly occupied by Central Freeway
  • Schlage Lock factory: The Schlage Lock area plan in Visitacion Valley
  • Mid-Market Street: General neighborhood revitalization
  • Sixth Street: Facade and tenant improvement program

Source: Redevelopment Agency

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