Oceanside takes over agency

OCEANSIDE — Following the state budget decision to abolish all city redevelopment agencies and halt city redevelopment tax dollars, City Council unanimously voted Jan. 10 for the city to become the successor of its now defunct Redevelopment Agency.

The city stands to gain $1.2 million in property tax revenues, but stands to lose $4.8 million in accumulated affordable housing funds, $1.9 million in accumulated redevelopment funds and $2.2 million in annual affordable housing funds.

“We can thank the state of California for burdening all cities,” said Mayor Jim Wood. “The state put the burden on our back.”

City Council will work under a city oversight board to make sure outstanding redevelopment bonds are paid off and determine where any remaining redevelopment monies are spent.

The oversight board will consist of appointed representatives from all entities that will split the tax dollars that previously went to improve Oceanside’s downtown redevelopment district. These include the county, the city, the largest special district, public schools and community colleges.

“The oversight board will have the final say,” City Attorney John Mullen said.

The Oceanside Redevelopment Agency has been active since the 1970s and was set to expire in 2018. The agency was in the “wind down mode,” but had several redevelopment projects on the table.

It recently got City Council’s OK on a list of projects that included a downtown hotel, two parking structures, waterfront improvements, beach restrooms, amphitheater upgrades, and changing west Mission Avenue to a one-way street.

Now the city must determine how much redevelopment money is still available and which projects the last of the funds will be spent on.

Downtown parking structures and upgrades to Mission Avenue will likely be the city’s top priorities at a cost of $7 million to $8 million.

“My recommendation is to focus on the parking structures and Mission Avenue improvements downtown,” City Manager Peter Weiss said.

The exact amount of available redevelopment money is currently unknown.

A lawsuit is pending, asking that cities be allowed to use promised redevelopment housing funds. Other lawsuits are popping up daily in response to the state action.

For Oceanside, millions of redevelopment dollars are up in the air.

“There is $1 million in bond funds to spend down,” Margery Pierce, neighborhood services director, said. “We can prioritize the best use assuming we can use those funds.”

The city will work with a “bare bones staff” and Oceanside Housing Authority personnel will be in charge of housing assets and housing functions previously performed by the city Redevelopment Agency.

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