WatchSonoma Watch

Sonoma County rebuffs state’s redevelopment denial


An oversight board tasked with managing former redevelopment funds for Sonoma County government is standing by its two largest projects, rebuffing a state message last week that deemed the projects invalid for continued funding and work.

The old Albertson's Supermarket in Roseland. (PD File)

The projects would transform a shopping center in Roseland into a commercial and residential complex with a community plaza and also would complete street, sidewalk and lighting upgrades to Highway 12 in an area north of Sonoma known as the Springs.

The oversight panel voted unanimously Friday to reaffirm its claim that the county can carry forward with the work under state legislation that dissolved redevelopment earlier this year.

The decision backed a broader March 26 vote by the seven-member oversight panel to spend up to $19.5 million in property taxes and bond proceeds to complete the two high-profile projects and numerous smaller initiatives.

That plan was subject to state review, however, and it was dealt a blow last week. Department of Finance officials notified the county that the Roseland and Highway 12 projects did not meet the test for “enforceable obligations,” the term for projects that can be continued with redevelopment funds.

The ruling raised the possibility of liquidation for the projects’ unspent funding, including $10.4 million for Highway 12 and $6.4 million for Roseland.

But the local oversight board again asserted its stake in that money Friday and its support for projects that proponents say will have significant community benefits.

“We believe we have a strong position on this,” said Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo, who sits on the appointed oversight board. It includes a majority of county representatives, along with one city of Santa Rosa official and two school officials representing primary education and Santa Rosa Junior College.

The panel authorized returning to the state the county’s list of redevelopment projects with only minor modifications.

Supervisor Valerie Brown, chairwoman of the oversight board, and County Counsel Bruce Goldstein also sent letters pressing the county’s case.

They cite state law on the phase-out of redevelopment and contend that the oversight board’s March 26 vote rendered the county’s list of projects “enforceable obligations.”

They also argued that the benefits of continuing with the projects — including cleanup of environmental contamination, safety upgrades to roads and boosted property tax revenue in blighted areas — would outweigh any gains from halting the efforts and redistributing the money to other public agencies and services.

Completing “these two projects will not only benefit the communities in which they are located, but will also benefit all taxing entities,” Brown wrote.

Who gets the final say and what happens next is in dispute. The standoff could play out this year between the state and local governments seeking to defend their redevelopment projects.

At stake locally are dozens of projects worth millions of dollars in cities including Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Sebastopol. The county is a test case as it turned in documents earlier than most of the cities.

“If jurisdictions want to submit further evidence … then we will review the information they provide us and make a (decision) whether or not that changes our initial determination,” said Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer.

He said the county’s notice would trigger a second round of response and review periods that could result in word back from the state in about two weeks.

“The clock starts running, just as it did for the initial submission,” Palmer said.

8 Responses to “Sonoma County rebuffs state’s redevelopment denial”

  1. Jim Bennett says:

    Kay, Amen.
    Unfortunately once all is said and done.
    There’s usually more said, than done.

    I’ve come to regard it as a kind of societal autism. Yes autism.
    An inability to decern the difference between outside stimuli and our internal diologue.
    What we complain about on the blogs and with each other and our ability to activate a civil participation.
    Are we in the audience?
    Or are we in our own movie?
    The distinction between the two has become a blurry line it seems.
    Maybe we’re getting too used to reconciling our world through a screen

    Doing nothing is one of your only rights left intact.
    However I assure you that the consequences of your complacency will feel very real.

    Very soon.

    Your public officials are all
    (can’t think of a meaningful exception),
    ICLEI adherant change agents.

    We have to cut off the head of the snake.

    ICLEI. Oh, I forgot.
    Local Governments for Sustainability.

    Guess the ‘International’ word was a little too telling.

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  2. Billy C says:

    I am sickened by the political moves at play but I do think the two projects are worth while. Both areas are run down and populated with Hispanics. Our current white population has been on the decline for the last 15 years while the Hispanic
    population is booming. Its high time we improve the conditions in the Hispanic
    areas. When we reach 2035 it is likely we will be needing to serve a population that is 80% Hispanic.

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  3. Kay Tokerud says:

    @Steveguy You ask why Valerie Brown is the head of so many things? It’s because she is a head honcho for ICLEI and sits on the national board of ICLEI. She had special security clearance at the United Nations conference in Copenhagen. If she had her way, our country would be totally controlled by the United Nations and the wealth of our nation would be redistributed to other countries. Brown and others following the UN Agenda 21 program including President Obama and his czars have decided it’s OK to throw Americans under the bus.

    The UN is busy drafting new international laws that are intended to replace our laws. Besides that, they are compiling total information on all land and all people using satellite data furnished to them by the United States government. Rio+20 is all about using information to monitor and control every aspect of our lives. And it gets worse.

    Please, look at all the websites on UN Agenda 21, there are many that clearly explain the grave threat we are facing against our nation. Don’t be one of the people asleep at the wheel. We need all hands on deck to preserve our country’s sovereignty. The United States is the greatest nation ever and we should not let them take it away from us. Valerie Brown can certainly find a job with the UN.

    The good news is that millions of Americans are finding out about UN Agenda 21 Sustainable Development and they will not be deceived by the spin masters that try to frame the issue as a positive thing. It seems like everyone except progressive democrats are catching on. It’s hard for them to accept that they’ve been totally duped and have bought into the saving the planet nonsense. The world will not end if we don’t go along with the UN’s plan to create a one world system. No plan is worth losing our individual liberties.

    My belief is that the new world government will be communism if they succeed. Look around you and listen to the rhetoric. The new slogan “Forward” is a communist slogan. Obama’s using it. Going Forward, Lean forward (MSNBC). China and Russia are communist and they are exerting their influence in the United states. China is buying our land and resources now. It’s time to vote out any politician that uses Communist rhetoric.

    Valerie Brown should stop wasting our money fighting against the new law banning redevelopment projects and accept that there’s no money for it now. It seems like she’s on the wrong side of a lot of things including Smart, SCEIP, and redevelopment. If she doesn’t like American laws she should get out. Kick ICLEI Out!

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  4. GAJ says:

    What do you do when you have existing crumbling infrastructure?

    Build a Plaza!

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  5. Follower says:

    Fine, you’re not gonna let us spend the money you sole? We’ll just steal our own!

    Don’t worry Tax Payers… you can still re-elect us because we’re not going to steal it from you, we’ll steal it from your grandchildren!


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  6. Steveguy says:

    I predict a very lucrative State position for Valerie Brown. Part time at $300 K plus sounds about right. With power over us masses. And she can spike her pension like all the rest, she is ‘entitled’ ya know….

    Mark my words.

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  7. Steveguy says:

    Is there any Board or Agency that Valerie Brown is not the chair of ?

    Why do we heap so much power upon 1 person, especially one that DOESN’T have the citizens in mind ? Oh, they vote themselves the power to be the head and on the Boards of Unaccountable Agencies ! I skirts the normal process that way.

    Really, Chair of SMART, this one, the Water Agency and many others. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely.

    Why so much power to ONE person ? Why ?

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  8. John T says:

    Valerie Brown has used every back handed political move in the book to bludgeon the other members of the panel into the party line for a “unanimous” vote, with absolutely no discussion allowed about better alternative uses for our tax dollars.

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