As we await the outcome of Gov. Jerry Brown’s state budget plan, many local jurisdictions are looking for ways to protect their redevelopment agencies (RDAs) from being dissolved. On Feb. 8, the Santa Cruz City Council approved a $53 million indebtedness contract with the city’s RDA in order to protect its future projects. What is your response to the reactions of municipalities across the state to the prospect of losing their RDAs?
Under the governor’s proposal, existing redevelopment agencies (RDAs) debt would be paid, thus the City of Santa Cruz’s recent decision to incur a $53 million debt would be honored.
Many readers may be aware that local governments across the state are opposed to the governor’s proposal to eliminate state RDA funding and direct these funds to local governments in order for them to be used to fund local law enforcement, fire protection, road maintenance, libraries, and parks. However, I think it is important to point out that in exchange for the loss of state taxes, the governor would allow local governments to place tax increases dedicated to continuing local redevelopment before local voters to approve with a 55 percent majority vote.
There are many successful RDA projects throughout California, such as the Marine Sanctuary Discovery Center here in Santa Cruz, but there are also many unsuccessful RDA projects throughout the state. While we are still continuing the conversation about the fate of RDAs, the localized economic growth they provide needs to be continued and I am working with my colleagues to ensure that the passage of the 2011-12 Budget will continue to allow local communities to prioritize appropriate local development projects.
You have authored Assembly Bill (AB) 579, which will provide assistance to local governments in the event they successfully defend themselves in mobile home home rent control cases. What led to the creation of this bill?
The 89 mobile home parks in Santa Cruz County represent some of the most affordable housing in the area. However, mobile home park owners have challenged local rent control ordinances in the courts, often employing protracted litigation and appellate strategies that make sustained legal defense by local governments costly and unsustainable.
The De Anza Mobile Home Park in Santa Cruz provides a case in point. The City of Santa Cruz was unable to sustain financing litigation to defend the Santa Cruz ordinance and repealed the ordinance. As a result, De Anza mobile home unit owners have faced exorbitant space rental increases adversely impacting the value of their homes and making resale virtually impossible.
AB 579 seeks to discourage the threat of repeated lawsuits brought by mobile home park owners against local governments who have enacted mobile home rent control ordinances by allowing local governments to recover attornies’ fees when they have successfully defended their mobile home rent control ordinance, and by providing the courts with a special motion to dismiss proceedings that are determined to have no reasonable basis.
AB 579 will provide parity and establish a level playing field for local governments and mobile home park owners and empower local governments to defend and advance the essential protections of rent control ordinances.
March is National Nutrition Month. As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health, what are you working on currently to encourage better nutrition?
Last year congress enacted the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) to reduce the greasy, high-caloric foods offered on school grounds, and the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) to provide funds to states that want to focus on the prevention of disease through the promotion of good nutrition and physical activity.
In order for California to take full advantage of these federal programs, I recently introduced AB 70 which ensures that the state will be able to maximize its use of PPACA and HHFKA funding. AB 70 establishes health prevention, education, and child nutrition as legislative priorities for California with the goal of building, promoting, and sustaining healthy communities. These legislative priorities will build on activities at the federal level to help the state reduce chronic disease rates, eliminate conditions that lead to health disparities, and increase the cultural and linguistic appropriateness of health services.