WatchSonoma Watch

Rohnert Park transfers land to protect redevelopment funds


Rohnert Park officials on Tuesday hurriedly took possession of 15 properties from the city’s redevelopment agency, hoping to protect them in the event the state moves to eliminate the agency.

City staff called for the transfer, warning that the Legislature may act as soon as this week to dissolve redevelopment agencies, as Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed.

Housing and Redevelopment Manager Linda Babonis said the state would then likely sell off the properties, which include affordable housing, to pay off debt obligations of the redevelopment agencies.

In January, the council agreed to spend about $23 million in redevelopment money on projects, ranging from a study of using vacant city buildings for affordable housing to improving recreational facilities, including a sports field.

That move, like dozens like it undertaken by cities and counties around the state, was designed to protect redevelopment cash from the state.

Tuesday’s action was different in that it involved real estate owned by the redevelopment agency. Among the properties are the location of the city’s senior center and nine parcels containing or slated for affordable housing.

“If we didn’t proceed with this, what would happen to these properties?” Mayor Gina Belforte asked City Manager Gabe Gonzalez.

“The properties would be subject to disposal,” Gonzalez said.

“We’re protecting the people of Rohnert Park,” said Councilwoman Pam Stafford, explaining her vote to transfer the properties to the city.

The council’s vote was unanimous, although Councilman Joe Callinan called it “a formality.”

“The state’s going to get what it wants,” he said. “If they want it they’re going to retroact it back to January. We’re just going through the motions.”

About 50 formerly homeless people live in the houses transferred Tuesday from the redevelopment agency to the city. A Petaluma-based nonprofit manages the homes, and the city provides rental subsidies.

What happens next to those residents is uncertain, Babonis said, and depends on the state’s actions.

“But the housing is safe for now, the families are safe for now,” she said.

11 Responses to “Rohnert Park transfers land to protect redevelopment funds”

  1. Mitch Fowler says:

    Whatever program they come up with, it will be a bust and a waste of money. As an example they have the food giveaway once a month at the Community Center for the “poor and needy.” However, I always see a lot of super obese people loading up canned goods in to new SUVs and no one says boo about it. Leave the charity to the churches. Why do my tax dollars have to pay to keep bums loaded and/or fat and give them a free home to stew in?

    There are so many churches – what the heck are THEY doing anyway?

  2. joe blow says:

    I’m all for redevelopment and improving cities, but lets be realistic…

    Affordable housing = increased crime, increased welfare, increased gang activity,increase in illegal alien population.

  3. Phil Maher says:

    In my own defense (and yours, Misanthrope), two things-

    I agree that John has for some reason treated you in a condescending manner with the “Missy” moniker, and that bothers me. He definitely digressed in that regard, but I do believe that the resulting rift between you two detracts from the subject.

    Also, I’m not here to solve RP’s problems. What bothers me is the egregious violations of public trust that I see taking place in this insane dash to blow through public money that was haphazardly allotted to begin with, and is now being merely spent for the sake of spending it. One Redevelopment Agency might as well be the next. As far as RP specifically, it’s quite frankly a characterless pit that deserves whatever ill befalls it politically or fiscally, and that I would barely notice missing as I drove past it on the freeway, except that its absence might actually improve the view.

  4. Misanthrope says:

    Whether it’s repeatedly re-electing the same people who created/perpetuated the problem of making accusations of corruption – the group of people here just like complaining instead of doing something.

    Lawyer Hudson relentlessly makes accusations of mis- mal- non- feasance, corruption, etc. — yet in all these years of relentless attacks, not an iota of proof of wrongdoing.

    He should be able to say law X was broken. The elements of the crime are A B & C and the facts that support A B & C are thus and such and just get them arrested or prosecuted or what have you.

    The thumbs down count seems to prove that to me that the whiners here are happy just to drop their little bombs and never back it up with some proof. Sorry for demanding substantiation.

  5. James Bennett says:

    The best disinfectant is sunlight.

  6. Bill Parkhurst says:

    It seems everyone here understands what the politicians are doing. Yet we elect these people anyway.

  7. Phil Maher says:

    Nothing is that simple. You might want to have the staff and city attorney review the implications of taxation and bond obligations. Effectively, these properties appear to no longer qualify for protections and exclusions afforded by redevelopment. You seem to have what was once a group of properties that previously qualified for preferential and exclusive bond issuance/assessment/tax treatment that’s now a liability to the general fund. Can’t do that…it’s a big no-no. Your books are going to be a mess, and your stakeholders might have something to say about such a large material change to their underlying collateral.

  8. Kay Tokerud says:

    John and Phil nailed it. The redevelopment agencies are showing their true colors now, squirrelling the money away in foxholes and handing it out to their cronies. It’s pathetic, really, watching these hypocrites that are always talking about consensus building run away with bags of the public’s money.

    People need to be clear, the State is withdrawing THEIR money from redevelopment. The local property tax money will stay in the communities and go back into the general funds to pay for general services where that money is sorely needed. No money is being stolen from local communities. It’s time for redevelopment to end, and all that money will go back to the agencies for which it was intended.

    Redevelopment areas are formed without a vote of the public, a simple city council majority is all that is usually needed. Redevelopment bond debt is incurred without a vote of the public either. See how they are doing all these things without asking us, the voters? There’s little accountability with redevelopment as outlined in the State
    Controller’s report.

    Redevelopment is finally in the spotlight and it’s not looking too good, get rid of it.

  9. Misanthrope says:

    Submit your proof to the State Attorney General Huddy. Hot air only lifts balloons, it can’t bring about justice.

  10. John Hudson says:

    They are protecting Codding, not the people of Rohnert Park. Last December the MacKenzie-Stafford regime GAVE Codding $880,000 in public funds from the redevelopment agency. Codding returned the favor by financing the campaign of Stafford and Ahonotu. Essentially, Stafford and MacKenzie used public funds for the campaign of their political alliance.

    This is stealing. Those funds were derived from property taxes paid by the people in the sections of town declared “blighted” in order to start the redevelopment agency. The money should have been used for physical improvements in the areas declared to be blighted. Instead they gave the money to the new town boss. Now they want people to believe that they do not subsidize developers with sewer infrastructure paid for by existing residents of Rohnert Park.

    Folks, its time to rise up and get rid of the corrupt regime in city hall. They take your money and give it to Codding. They raise your sewer rates and cancel and election result for the benefit of Brookfield Homes, Codding and 101 Holdings (owned by James Ratto, the garbage boss). The folks in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia can do it. We can too!

  11. Phil Maher says:

    Hmmm, where have I heard this before? Oh, that’s right. It’s the same way that criminals do it when their assets face forfeiture. Bernie Madoff has nothing on you guys. You do know that it won’t stand legally, right? Why waste the energy and taxpayer’s money? Too bad you can’t just dig it up and move it to the Caymans, but I bet you would if you could. Face it, you’re screwed. Do something else amusing and pointless. It’s fun to watch.