Santa Clara votes to keep redevelopment agency

August 17, 2011 12:23:37 AM PDT
There was a big step forward in Santa Clara Tuesday night to get the new 49er stadium built. But the move comes at a cost and it has angered residents who think the city is giving too much money to the 49ers and to Sacramento.

The Santa Clara City Council made quick work of the vote to keep its redevelopment agency going, a key component of the plan to build a brand new $987 million stadium in Santa Clara. It hinges on a case before the state supreme court and Tuesday the city was trying to cover its bases.

"It would be really irresponsible to do anything else," Mayor Jamie Matthews said. "This creates insurance for us, if for some reason a lawsuit is successful, then this action will be null and void, but we need to make sure we protect our assets and our opportunities for the future."

Stadium opponents consider it a taxpayer gift to the 49ers.

"We're supporting private enterprise with public money; public money should be used for the public, not to support the San Francisco 49ers," stadium opponent Deborah Bress said.

By January, Santa Clara would have to pay $11.2 million to the state and $2.5 million every year after that.

It is all because Gov. Jerry Brown and the legislature got rid of redevelopment agencies in the last budget, but allowed cities to opt in to those agencies if they paid money back to the state.

"We'll be protecting our affordable housing, our library, our stadium project, which is a huge, our huge economic future in Santa Clara," City Councilmember Lisa Gillmor said.

The new redevelopment agency law is being challenged right now in the state supreme court. With Tuesday's vote, Santa Clara is preserving its option to have a local redevelopment agnecy.

Stadium opponents do not like city money flowing back to the state.

"This really is about the 49er stadium subsidy, but the worst part is that what we've done is to set a precedent such that when the next governor demands $5 million a year, we won't be able to refuse," stadium opponent Bill Bailey said.

The first $11 million dollar payment to the state would be due in mid-January.

The council did not decide exactly where they would get that money, but officials say it would probably come out of affordable housing projects and other city programs.

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