Council decides to kill RDA

Gilroy council decides at retreat to pull the plug on downtown
redevelopment
It’s official-well almost.
Gilroy’s plan for a Redevelopment Agency won’t be resurrected
anytime soon.
Gilroy council decides at retreat to pull the plug on downtown redevelopment

It’s official-well almost.

Gilroy’s plan for a Redevelopment Agency won’t be resurrected anytime soon.

The Gilroy City Council decided that enough was enough; and rather than debate the controversial issue back and forth, the RDA will be formally shot down at the council’s Oct. 7 meeting.

The agreement was made during a council retreat last Friday afternoon when Councilman Craig Gartman-the one who has been the swing vote on the issue-asked for the council to bring up a motion that would cease all further efforts on the RDA and put an end to it.

So far the city has spent $48,000 to study RDA feasibility and create a survey map area. Completing the process would cost an additional $140,000 and take roughly another 10 months to activate.

As of the retreat, there aren’t enough votes for its passage. And the overall consensus is to not prolong the issue any further.

Gartman, who has vacillated on bringing back an RDA that would help revitalize Gilroy’s blighted areas in and around the downtown, came to his decision after attending a two-day meeting of the California Redevelopment Association in Sacramento.

After attending the meetings, he said that it had convinced him that urban blight is not prevalent in the City of Gilroy. And without physical and economic blight, an RDA is not legally justifiable.

The motion-which needs four votes to pass-has been stagnating in recent weeks with a 3-3 split.

Mayor Tom Springer and Councilman Bob Dillon have been against the RDA, while Councilman Al Pinheiro, Roland Velasco and Peter Arellano have backed the idea. Since Councilman Charles Morales has recused himself from the issue because of a potential conflict-of-interest stemming from property ownership, Gartman holds the crucial vote-a vote that’s changed on several occasions.

In August Gartman voted to keep Gilroy’s Redevelopment Agency alive by agreeing that it was a feasible way for the city to revamp its blighted areas in and around the downtown.

On Sept. 3, Gartman cast the deciding 3-3 vote that shot it down by going against the RDA’s draft survey area map-the first legal step in reactivating the agency.

Then seconds later he motioned to continue discussion on the subject until next

April. That passed 4-1 and was reaffirmed on Sept. 16 when the council voted 3-3 to defeat a motion by Pinheiro that was supposed to shoot the issue down once and for all-but ended up reaffirming its continuation due to confusion on the dais.

At the retreat, everyone decided they had had enough.

In fact, Gilroy Mayor Tom Springer didn’t even want to wait until Oct. 7 to put a fork in the issue.

“I want to call a special meeting with one item on the agenda: A vote to terminate all further pursuit of a redevelopment plan,” said Springer, whose frustrations have nearly reached their boiling point since Pinheiro’s Sept. 16 motion for a revote on the continuation came off more like an RDA revival speech-to the point that it confused some members of the dais into voting the wrong way.

“What happened on Monday (Sept. 16) is not what was expected to happen,” said Springer. “I heard we were willing to terminate it but then Al worded it like he wanted one more shot. We need to clear everything off the table now. It’s dragging on and the longer it drags on the longer it festers.”

The council agreed with Springer, but didn’t feel that a special meeting was needed for one issue.

Then Pinheiro defended himself.

“I have no problem killing the RDA if that’s the will of this council,” he said. “I did what I did because I was attempting to give Gartman one more opportunity to adjust that map. And I had the right to do it, Mr. Mayor. As a believer in the RDA that was my last chance to get Gartman to revisit the map one more time.

“If you bring this back next month at a regular meeting, I’ll publicly state right now that I support a motion to drop the RDA,” said Pinheiro, the council’s strongest supporter of the agency.

Velasco, another strong supporter of the RDA, also concurred.

“If there isn’t the political will, I’m all in favor of killing it,” he said. “It’s time to get this off the agenda.”

The city has had an RDA on the books for years but it has been inactive because there is no formal redevelopment plan and survey area map in place. An attempt to create a plan was rejected by voters by a 2-1 margin in 1989.

It has been projected that an RDA would raise approximately $1.4 million over its first 10 years to improve blighted areas identified in the survey area. Of that, 20 percent must be spent on affordable housing and another 20 percent of that must go back to the county to make up for lost property tax revenues.

An RDA works by freezing property taxes paid to the county based on the property’s current assessed value. As improvements are made and the property’s assessed value rises, 75 percent of the additional tax revenue is used by the city’s redevelopment agency for future improvements.

Morgan Hill and Hollister both have functioning redevelopment agencies and thriving downtowns.

The council has voted on the issue four times in the last two months.

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