Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said today that he believes an effort to extend the life of local redevelopment agencies through April 15 is "not going to happen."
Legislation to that effect, Senate Bill 659 by Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla, faces a Tuesday deadline for winning passage in the state Assembly, in addition to the planned Feb. 1 date of closure for the agencies
"I'm skeptical," Steinberg said. "I think the speaker is skeptical, and the governor is dead set against the bill. The focus needs to be on recreating a new set of economic development tools for cities and not on trying to keep alive the current form."
The Legislature axed the agencies, which subsidize local projects in blighted areas, and created a new redevelopment entity as part of last year's budget package. But the state Supreme Court ruled in December in response to a legal challenge to the move that while the Legislature had the power to dissolve the agencies, the replacement organizations could not stand.
Local governments have pushed for the extension measure, saying it is needed to allow lawmakers to address legal and contractual issues related to terminating the taxpayer-funded agencies. Gov. Jerry Brown expressed doubts about the proposal on a campaign stop last week, saying, "I don't think we can delay this funeral."
Steinberg said he is interested in exploring ways to take money and assets now held by the agencies and "hand (them) back to the cities and counties for economic development, but with a connection to ... our goals of better planning."
The Sacramento Democrat has introduced legislation to allow local governments to retain and use redevelopment money earmarked for affordable housing projects. That bill also faces a Tuesday deadline for winning approval.
Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez appears to be on the same page as Steinberg.
"The governor certainly made his feelings absolutely clear for extending them for the sake of an extension," said Pérez spokesman John Vigna. "So I think our focus is preserving some of the (long-term) economic development functions of them."
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