Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) has introduced legislation that would use federal funds to replace much of California's Redevelopment Agency development obligations that were declared illegal by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Called the "Restarting Local Economies Act of 2013," Swalwell's bill would make it easier for communities in California to obtain federal redevelopment funding.
In 2011, the state legislature voted and California closed all of the state's roughly 400 redevelopment agencies (RDAs), leaving localities without a source to fund much-needed development, Swalwell said in a statement. In his 15th Congressional District, alone, the loss was over $50 million.
Swalwell was joined at a press conference announcing the bill's introduction by Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison, Union City Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci, and East Bay Economic Development Alliance Director Darien Louie.
Swalwell introduced the legislation at an empty lot in Fremont, which was slated for mixed-use development with housing and retail. The closure of the Fremont RDA delayed the project.
"The state's closure of redevelopment agencies has effectively stalled local economic development across the East Bay," Swalwell said. "With that funding taken away by the state of California, too much land remains undeveloped and potential jobs sit on the sidelines."
"As a former Dublin city councilmember, I've taken my understanding of local economic development to Washington," he added. "While I can't undo the California legislature's mistake, my legislation helps cities whose redevelopment funding was raided by making it easier for them to obtain federal grants for redevelopment purposes. I'm proud to stand with mayors and communities across the East Bay as a federal partner in promoting local economic development."
The federal government's Economic Development Administration's Economic Adjustment Assistance program provides competitive grants to localities for redevelopment projects, should they meet specific criteria related to challenges to their economy.
Swalwell's legislation would include the closure of a government entity, such as a redevelopment agency, as a specific example of an economic challenge to a region, allowing California localities to more easily compete for federal funds.
In addition, Swalwell's bill also would allow greater federal funding contributions to redevelopment activities in cities hurt by an RDA closure even up to 100% of the project's cost.
"This legislation solves a problem facing our cities and represents a commonsense approach to grow our local economies, create jobs, and move the East Bay forward," added Swalwell.