The construction of 10,000 new homes at Hunters Point and a plan to revitalize the blighted central Market Street area could be jeopardized by a court ruling.
The California Supreme Court on Thursday struck down legislation that would have allowed San Francisco to keep its Redevelopment Agency. The court not only upheld the state’s ability to eliminate redevelopment agencies across California, but also spiked the mechanism that would have let them survive by paying more into state services.
San Francisco officials had planned to spend $14.5 million next year to pursue that option.
Although cities may continue to execute projects already under contract prior to the June passage of the legislation, future efforts to revitalize The City are now uncertain.
Redevelopment Commissioner Rick Swig described the ruling as the “worst-case scenario,” especially for the Hunters Point project.
“I am deeply saddened for the folks living there,” Swig said. “This is a huge setback for what would have accelerated recovery in that neighborhood.”
Redevelopment Executive Director Tiffany Bohee said the Hunters Point plan can move forward, but she acknowledged that the turmoil could dampen the interest of private investors seeking to build housing there.
Bohee characterized The City’s agency as a model for the rest of the state and touted its ability to push affordable housing projects forward.
“We are extremely disappointed by the court’s decision,” Bohee said, adding that projects such as Mission Bay and the Transbay Transit Center are in better shape than the Hunters Point development because their construction timetables are further along.
A new $1 billion stadium planned for the 49ers in Santa Clara was set to receive $40 million in redevelopment funds, but city spokesman Dan Beerman said the project will likely move forward without it. An $850 million loan was secured for the stadium construction earlier this month.
The anxiously awaited ruling was the result of a challenge brought by the California Redevelopment Association and others to Gov. Jerry Brown’s push to eliminate the agencies and save $1.7 billion in the state budget.
California Redevelopment Association Executive Director Jim Kennedy, whose organization took the state to court, said advocates will now push lawmakers for a legislative fix to allow agencies such as San Francisco’s to survive. He said advocates will seek a similar funding mechanism to the one struck down by the court, but he declined to provide details about how it could be made to comply with the court ruling.
“We don’t believe legislators intended to abolish redevelopment,” Kennedy said.
Mayor Ed Lee supported the idea of pursuing a legislative solution and said in a statement that answers also are being sought on the local level.
“Abandoning the job creation, economic development and community benefits that redevelopment has provided San Francisco for decades is simply not an option,” Lee said.
A project-by-project look at the California Supreme Court ruling’s possible ramifications in San Francisco:
Transbay Transit Center: Still moving forward, but perhaps with less affordable housing involved.
Treasure Island: No longer beholden to redevelopment funds due to a last-minute change in financing.
Santa Clara 49ers stadium: $1 billion project moving forward despite loss of $40 million in redevelopment money.
Hunters Point Shipyard: Moving forward, although turmoil could dampen potential for private investment and possibly affect construction of 10,000 homes there.
Mission Bay: Moving forward, since most improvements are under contract.
Mid-Market Street revitalization: The death of The City’s Redevelopment Agency would keep this area from becoming a full-fledged redevelopment zone eligible for funds.
Sources: San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, city of Santa Clara