CONTRA COSTA COUNTY GRAND JURY
REPORT NO. 0306
Time to Redirect the County Redevelopment Agency
To: The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors
The goals of redevelopment are to eliminate blight, promote economic development and provide affordable housing.
The California Community Redevelopment
Law is contained in the California Health and Safety Code Section 33000
et seq. In 1952,
California voters adopted Article XVI, Section 16, of the California
Constitution. This article provided for tax increment financing as
Base year property tax is
established with the introduction of a redevelopment area. Schools,
special districts, etc., continue to receive
the base year property taxes. With the tax base set, increases in value
of property over time within a redevelopment area increases the
property taxes. These additional taxes, or increments, flow to the
Redevelopment Agency. This financing method is the key mechanism
for implementing redevelopment law.
The Contra Costa County Redevelopment
Agency (RDA) was established on December 6, 1983. While the
redevelopment law was passed in the 1950s, it was enabling legislation,
which gives the counties and cities
the right to form redevelopment agencies but does not mandate them to
do so. However, most cities in the state now have redevelopment
agencies, while unincorporated areas within a county are the
responsibility of the county RDA.
There are presently four redevelopment
areas in the unincorporated area of the county: Pleasant Hill BART area
established in 1984, Bay
Point in 1987, North Richmond in 1987 and Rodeo in 1990.
The Pleasant Hill BART Redevelopment
Area was explicitly designed to reduce regional traffic by locating new
offices and housing next to
a transportation hub.
This report focuses solely on the RDA's activities at the Pleasant Hill BART redevelopment area.
- The County Board of Supervisors is the governing board of the RDA.
- The RDA raises capital dollars primarily through the sale of tax exempt bonds. It can incur bonded indebtedness without voter
- Close to 70% of the RDA's current budget is devoted to the Pleasant Hill BART (PH BART) redevelopment area.
- The current indebtedness of the PH BART redevelopment project is just over $83 million.
- While established in 1984, the
redevelopment of the PH BART area has not yet been completed. There is
no specific timetable for the
development of the rest of the PH BART area.
- A development company, Millennium Partners, has exclusive right to the development of the PH BART redevelopment area.
- The RDA has purchased the Las
Juntas Swim Club for the purpose of providing parking for BART. The RDA
paid $2 million for the
property, which had been appraised at $1.8 million. The appraisal
states "The Highest and Best Use of the property was determined to be
to demolish the swim club improvements to allow residential development
as allowed by the General Plan and zoning".
- The Swim Club property has been purchased for the use of BART parking. BART has not agreed to pay any of the costs of
improvement of the property for parking, estimated at $590,000, nor for its on-going maintenance.
- Assembly Bill 1855 (AB1855) was
passed in 2000 to allow the RDA to buy the Las Juntas property which is
outside the redevelopment
area and within the city limits of Walnut Creek.
AB1855 permits this property to be used solely for the purpose of constructing affordable housing. AB1855 says:
funds shall be used only for the acquisition of land for, and the
design and construction of, the development of housing containing
units affordable to low- or moderate-income persons."
- The request from the Board of
Supervisors asking various Senators and Assembly persons to support the
bill did not reveal that the
purchase would be for parking, but stressed affordable housing.
- AB1855 also grants permission for
the RDA to use its funds outside the redevelopment area "anywhere in
the unincorporated territory" for the "provision of low-and
- The RDA also has plans to build a $25 million parking garage for BART on BART property. When it has been completed, RDA plans
to give ownership of the garage to BART without payment.
- The RDA is planning to build a
bridge over Treat Blvd. (at Jones Road) for easier pedestrian and
bicycle access to the BART station at
a cost estimated to be $4 million.
- There has been opposition by
residents in the surrounding areas to both the use of the Las Juntas
Swim Club for BART parking and the
construction of the bridge over Treat Blvd.
- Affordable housing goals as required by RDA law, have been met by subsidizing rents in apartment complexes within the PH BART
- There has been no owner-occupied, affordable housing built within this redevelopment area.
- Health and Safety Codes 33421 and 33445 are cited by the RDA as its authority for the actions it proposes to take within the
- The County Redevelopment Agency is
a separate legal entity with its own revenue, budget, staff and power
to issue debt and condemn
- Redevelopment law, specifically
Health and Safety Codes 33421 and 33445, is being interpreted liberally
by the RDA to justify its
decisions and actions.
- The continued development of the PH BART area is moving very slowly under the agreement with Millennium Partners.
- The obligation for providing
parking for the convenience of BART and its riders lies with BART
and/or Millennium Partners, not with
- The use of $25 million in
redevelopment funds to build a parking garage on BART property is
inappropriate. Again, parking for its
riders should be BART's obligation. If parking is displaced by a
developer, it should also be the responsibility of that developer to
- AB1855 does not give the RDA authority to acquire the Las Juntas Swim Club property for the purpose of BART parking.
- The expenditures of $2.6 million of redevelopment funds to provide BART parking on the swim club site is inappropriate.
- The expenditure of some $4 million
for a bridge over Treat Blvd. is improper. Whatever the increase in
pedestrian or bicycle traffic, the
building of the bridge is not an appropriate use of redevelopment
- A more proper use of these funds would be to provide more low- and moderate-income housing either within the PH BART
redevelopment area or elsewhere within the county as permitted by AB1855.
The Contra Costa County Grand Jury recommends the following actions to the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors as the
governing board of the RDA.
- Since the purchase of the Las
Juntas Swim Club property has been finalized, use the property as
AB1855 intended, for multi-family
- Do not spend any redevelopment dollars to turn the Swim Club property into a parking lot.
- Do not build the parking garage for BART.
- Do not proceed further with plans to build the bridge over Treat Blvd.
- Redirect the monies designated for BART parking and the Treat bridge into low- and moderate-income housing within the PH BART
redevelopment area or elsewhere within the unincorporated territory of the county.
- The Board of Supervisors, in its
capacity as the Redevelopment Agency Board of Directors closely
supervise the Redevelopment
Agency to insure that the agency is spending redevelopment money in
prudent and appropriate ways and in the best interest of the public.
GRAND JURY INDEX