With the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency on its last legs, Mayor Ed Lee is moving quickly on doing damage control before investors turn a cold shoulder to big project plans that have already been years in the making.
The California Supreme Court on Dec. 29 upheld the bid by Gov. Jerry Brown to eliminate redevelopment agencies across the state. Since then, cities, including San Francisco, have been scrambling over what to do next for projects that are counting on redevelopment funds.
A backup program, which would have allowed San Francisco and other cities to keep their redevelopment agencies if they paid more toward state services such as schools, also was struck down by the court. San Francisco was planning to use the alternative to back large projects, including the Hunters Point shipyard redevelopment, mid-Market Street revitalization, the Mission Bay development and building of the new Transbay Transit Center.
“When that happened, we really felt vulnerable,” Lee said Monday in an interview with The SF Examiner.
Although the court ruling did allow for many projects in the pipeline to move ahead as planned, city officials said potential private investors might be spooked by the uncertainty of public funds.
To combat sour feelings investors might be having toward the future of local projects, Lee wants to quickly appoint an oversight board to manage the finances and contracts of existing long-term Redevelopment Agency revitalization areas — namely Hunters Point, Mission Bay and mid-Market.
The mayor said he plans to introduce a resolution today with the Board of Supervisors to create the oversight body.
“We want to signal to potential investors that these projects are solid with us,” Lee said.
During the weeks leading up to the much-anticipated state Supreme Court ruling, Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Tiffany Bohee was quick to point out that as much as half of the affordable housing in San Francisco was constructed by the agency.
The move by Lee to secure projects that would create housing in San Francisco is one of several the mayor is planning for the future.
Lee said during his inauguration speech Sunday that he wants to craft a long-term plan to maintain a citywide housing trust fund that would go before voters on the November ballot. The mayor said he envisions a “preset formula” for developers to pay toward affordable-housing goals in The City.
That could avoid time-consuming negotiations over the terms of big developments, Lee said, citing as an example the California Pacific Medical Center’s new Cathedral Hill hospital, which has been the subject of political wrangling for more than six years.
Private funds are key to large projects:
- Hunters Point: Approved plans to build 10,000 homes awaiting private investment
- Mission Bay: Salesforce.com and UCSF serve as anchor tenants to the most advanced project under way
- Mid-Market: Mayor Ed Lee wants to bring new companies to the stretch of Market Street roughly between Fifth and 10th streets