I worked as a budget analyst for the Santa Barbara County Administrator. I was delighted that one of the first things Jerry Brown did as governor was to propose that the state abolish redevelopment agencies. Elected officials use redevelopment funds generated by increased property tax revenue on properties for pet projects. Some of the pets are good dogs and some of them are just plain dogs.
Redevelopment dollars were used to help fund Paseo Nuevo. Why was this important to the city? Once all the shops went in, sales tax revenue poured into the city coffers and sales tax revenue collected in Santa Barbara City goes only to the city. The same goes for redevelopment projects all over the state. An auto mall built with redevelopment dollars produces huge increases in sales tax for the local jurisdiction where it was built.
Schools receive the largest share of property taxes collected and, therefore, lose the most when money is diverted to redevelopment agencies. It’s not just schools and counties that lose tax dollars. It is also fire districts, flood districts, cemetery districts, and all the other public jurisdictions funded mostly by property taxes.
Tax dollars should go to highest priority services first. Over and over, citizens have said their highest priority is schools. I’ll bet the County Fire District is right up there at the top also.
Housing for low-income residents is a good thing but in economic hard times, schools come first in my book. – Linda Thom, Coupeville, Washington
Email from Independent reporter Nick Welsh to Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider:
Hey, I was intrigued by your remark about the missing montage scene. [Plug Pulled on Redevelopment Agency.] Since we’ve been in the film fest mode, I’d like to know what you would you include in your montage of the moribund agency? – Nick Welsh, S.B.
The mayor responds:
* before and after shots of lower State Street and the construction of Paseo Nuevo – there are some great pictures of the Center Stage Theatre being built
* a picture of the gross black walls of the Granada Theatre when it was four movie screening rooms; and another of it transformed to the Granada Stage
* El Carrillo, including pictures of people who live there now and what they looked like when they were homeless on the streets before that
* the transformation of Chase Palm Park, with kids smiling and playing in the carousel, and the Thursday night free dancing during the summer (with Marty and Joe Blum [former mayor and her husband] doing the boogie or something)
* public art: at Jardin de las Granadas, State of the Art; a nice picture of the Chumash dedication ceremony for the tiles on West Beach, which included all the local tribes (historic collaboration)
* Many housing projects, Casa de las Fuentes, Garden Court, Voluntario Street, Artisan Court, Habitat for Humanity just to name a few, and some of the families who live there now
* the new Emergency Operations Center at Fire Station 1
* the transformation of the old muffler shop to the new Fire Administrative offices
* the renovated Carrillo Recreation Center, with little tots playing in the ballet dance studio and seniors ballroom dancing in the big room
* the Granada Garage (as much as people have complained about it, it provides needed parking for the cultural arts district area and surrounding businesses)
* before and after shots of the various beach bathroom renovations on Cabrillo Blvd.
* new street lighting in the West Downtown area
* the logos of all the non-profit organizations – many of them arts institutions – that have received RDA capital grants (Lobero Theatre, Historical Museum, Solstice, Ensemble Theatre, Trust for Historical Preservation, to name a few)
Enough? – Helene Schneider, S.B.