San Francisco revitalization money is in the hands of judges 

click to enlarge Promise: The San Francisco Redevelopment Agency says an improved real estate market suggests more promise for private investment in major projects in Hunters Point and Mission Bay. - COURTESY RENDERING
  • courtesy rendering
  • Promise: The San Francisco Redevelopment Agency says an improved real estate market suggests more promise for private investment in major projects in Hunters Point and Mission Bay.

Future funding for revitalizing blighted areas in San Francisco hinges on the results of a California Supreme Court ruling expected in the coming weeks.

Gov. Jerry Brown pointed to city redevelopment agencies as cash-wasting bureaucracies when he took office in January, and he signed a pair of bills last summer that allow them two options: Go away completely or rely much more heavily on financing from local governments.

The California Redevelopment Association and other groups sued the state in July over the bills, calling them a violation of the 2010 voter-approved Proposition 22, which prevents the state from “raiding” local coffers to make up for its mounting debt.

Redevelopment Commissioner Rick Swig said the best-case scenario might actually be the Supreme Court upholding the state’s ability to eliminate the agencies.

“If the judge overrides them, the governor is going to find a more punitive way to get rid of redevelopment,” Swig said, adding that the agency simply needs closure on the turmoil. “We’re ready to go. We’ve been ready to go.”

The San Francisco Redevelopment Agency’s interim executive director, Tiffany Bohee, echoed that sentiment.

“We are anxious to get resolution and get back to business,” Bohee said.

She added that improvements in the real estate market suggest more promise for private investment in three major projects — Hunters Point, Treasure Island and Mission Bay,  the latter of which already has the massive new Salesforce.com headquarters moving forward.

In any case, the Redevelopment Agency and Mayor Ed Lee say they are prepared to move forward on keeping the agency alive, starting with a first-year commitment of $14.5 million in local funds. Lee said some of that money would come from The City’s general fund — which pays for basic services such as streets — plus another funding mechanism that’s yet to be announced.

“We already have a plan in place to present,” Lee said, referring to the need for Board of Supervisors approval on the agency’s funding future.

Although the agency has been executing work that was under contract before the state bills passed, it has been forbidden for months from starting new projects. The agency’s budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year amounts to $110 million.

dschreiber@sfexaminer.com

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