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Is the America's Cup a Clue to the Future of Redevelopment?

Bill Fulton on
Sep 25, 2011

If you want to know where Jerry Brown is going on redevelopment, just take a look at AB 664 a bill he signed in late September designed to help San Francisco finance facilities for the 2014 America's Cup race.

The bill does exactly what Brown was trying to undo in eliminating redevelopment: It diverts new property tax increment for a local purpose. But Brown included several other features in the bill that might suggest his thinking on redevelopment. First, he relied on the structure created by the existing Infrastructure Finance District law a cumbersome law which nevertheless permits tax-increment diversion without a blight finding. Second, he capped diversion of funds from the so-called ERAF fund the property tax fund used to finance schools at $1 million per year. And third, he subjected the entire thing to state oversight in this case, the California Development and Infrastructure Bank, or I-Bank.

The America's Cup situation is an unusual one with a one-of-a-kind backstory. But it's striking that the bill contains so many of the likely components of redevelopment reform. When Brown proposed eliminating redevelopment last January, he promised "a replacement tool". It's never been clear to anybody what he meant by that statement it may not have been clear to him but the America's Cup model show the way.

To understand the bill and the complicated backstory, read Peter Detwiler's bill analysis for the Senate Governance and Finance Committee. Actually, you should read it just to enjoy it. Like all of Detwiler's bill analyses, it is notable for its clarity, depth of understanding, and humor. There's nobody else in the Capitol who writes like Detwiler, and he  retired at the end of the session. Those of us who strive to understand what bills really say will have to find some other shortcut.

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