RDA Coffin Not Yet Closed

With the passage of Senate Bill 654 (SB654), authored by Senate President Pro tem Darrell Steinberg, cities in California would retain Redevelopment Agency’s (RDA) tax increment financing to build more affordable housing. The entire Legislature is set to vote on the bill.

As we know, the Supreme Court terminated the RDA tax increment statewide. One major reason behind Gov. Jerry Brown’s action is to use the tax increment monies to pay down the state’s deficit and to help avoid further cuts to public schools. If SB654 passes, the state would have less money for education and less funding to curtail the deficit. Further, not only would the state have less money for the governor’s goals, but, in some cases, California would also add in a new level of bureaucracy, because cities would form a new Housing Authority or an expansion of an existing Housing Authority with roles being filled by city councils. 

From my perspective, the highest court in the state ruled RDA can be terminated and allowed for a one-time exemption, which done the San Jose way does not pay property tax, road paving fees and up until recently no park fees. If anything, we should make an exemption for transportation projects that have more economic impact. For example, RDA funded the completion of Highway 87.

The other can of worms this opens is it attempts at re-prioritizing the enforceable obligations. Enforceable obligations is a list of who gets paid back first. My priority is to first pay back anything borrowed from a general fund that was borrowed to pay off the state grab, because that has an impact on services that are in the city charter. Housing is not in the charter, but police and libraries are and they should have a higher priority.

If SB654 passes through the Legislature, I hope Gov. Brown vetoes it. Then, moving forward when providing incentives/funding for affordable housing, the goal should be quality not quantity. This way we can build a community with a tax base to pay for city services and open space for residents to enjoy.

And on an unrelated note, thank you to Innovation Games, whose two dozen facilitators volunteered their time to the city of San Jose on Saturday allowing residents to discuss and select priorities under a budget simulation. The output from the 100 San Jose residents will be discussed at the Feb. 13 City Council meeting.


  1. Well, let’s nail that coffin shut right now!  San Jose, less than nearly any other city in California, has any obligation to build yet more “affordable housing.”  We can ill afford the impacts falling upon water availability, air quality, roads, public safety and neighborhood services.  Beyond that, we sure as hell don’t need another slush fund for giveaways to the chosen big developers and run by our greasy politicians.

  2. PO.

    We do not need more affordable housing in SJ who do not pay city taxes.  Why do you keep pushing this issue.  How about building houses where real home owners PAY taxes.

    Wow you got 100 (probably 10) people to show up to talk about city budget, you did not mention if you were there.  Bet their comments will never be heard at council meeting.  But it does sound good on this BS blog.

    Why do you even waste our money sitting at your city hall office desk writing this stuff when you will not respond to some serious questions?

  3. RDA and affordable housing – two curses on San Jose and CA.  The debt left by the SJ RDA is $3.8 B.  How is that ever going to be paid off?  RDA poisoned the well of the free market with all the nonsense that went on in this town for the last 30 years.  Between getting gangbanged by insider politicians, developers and unions the SJ taxpayer needs relieve from the list of fool hardy and very pricey projects that went into the downtown urinal.

    For a 100 years cities all over the country built hotels, libraries, museums and city halls without an RDA and they didn’t leave a huge debt to their great, great grandchildren.

    And now you want to keep building more “affordable” housing.  Its like feeding pigeons, you start with one and in no time – – Don’t you get it?  There will never be enough “affordable” housing as long as you keep puttin it out there. All you are building is future ghettos that will cost more than we could ever hope to cough up.

    And that’s not even the bad news.  How many people/bodies do you think San Jose and CA can support?  We are only a few years away from drinking recycled toilet water and you want to lure more people here?  For what the jobs?  Listen up P.O. your shirt, your shoes and your IPad and phone were made not by CA jobs but guess where?

    In CA we used to build ships, cars, appliances and thousands of other goods.  No more.  The steel for the new Bay Bridge came from – – guess where?  Our state government bureaucracy is bigger than 98% of the countries in the world.  CA has more people than all of Canada.  We used to be the bread basket to the world and now we are a food importer.

    What are we producing in CA with more affordable housing besides more mouths to feed and toilets to flush?

    Who has done this to us?  And don’t even get me started on education.

  4. Warning:  RDA funds are like crack cocaine.  Once you get started, it’s tough to quit.  Even after it’s all used up and you’ve burned through all of your cash, you’re only left wanting more.  There’s never enough.

    Don’t buy the “affordable housing” pitch – it’s like a druggie’s empty promise.  Look around us – the real estate drop has in itself caused a whole lot of “affordable” housing (and who’s left paying for that one, too?)  It’s simply time for city leaders to get into rehab and get themselves clean.  We can’t afford is to be “enablers” any longer.

  5. Opposing this measure that provides a one time funding for quality affordable housing for low and very low income people on projects already approved is wrong. The majority of these tenants are latino or afro-american and shows an elitist class prejudice to the poor and borders on racism. Most of these projects are from non profit affordable housing developers and those that are not still puts housing on the ground for the disenfranchised and the poor.

        • Just Wondering,

          Wonder no longer, it’s not true.  When SJ has led the entire State in low cost/affordable housing, why is elitist and racist to cease building yet more.  Wouldn’t you agree that other municipalities need to carry some of the load too?  And what is your opinion on adding to the low cost housing stock in such venues as Hillsborough, Monte Sereno and Los Altos Hills?

        • Certainly other locales should do their fair share. But, SJ is the largest of the local cities, thereby more diverse, and likely needs to provide a higher percentage than our neighbors. They don’t have to provide all of it, but they will likely provide more than others.

        • Wondering,

          Considering that we’ve outdone any other city in the Bay Area at least 100 times over, I think enough of our tax money has gone to the affordable housing sinkhole.  We cannot continue to be a magnet for more and more new residents. 

          If you haven’t done so lately, check out our police and fire headcount losses, our library system on life support, the string of bad air days, the impending drought, and our roads – the worst of any major city in California.

    • We need more cops, not more “affordable housing”.  If we get more affordable housing, we’ll need even more cops.  People in affordable housing are greater users of parks and such, but they don’t pay into the fund that pays for the parks—a double whammy.

    • Greg, your the racist by stereotyping that majority of Latino and African American as low income and very low income! Stop using the race card! It’s getting old and used so often that people are getting tired of hearing that excuse anymore!

    • You are aware. of course, that ALL the local for-profit builders have “non-profit” arms that skirt the taxes/fees and many other regulations associated with building development when they are shoulder tapped to build these “projects.”

      You also know that non-profits nullify their “profits” with their expenses which typically include high salaries for their executive board of director members.

      • “You also know that non-profits nullify their “profits” with their expenses which typically include high salaries for their executive board of director members.”

        This is particularly true of the large national not-for-profits such as United Way, American Cancer Society,  American Red Cross, etc., who pay enormous salaries to their CEO’s and who spend another large percentage of money collected to solicit more money.

        Last year alone I had nine mail solicitations from Special Olympics and eleven from The American Cancer Society.  Most of the return envelopes had stamps, further reducing the amount of $$ actually going to “the cause”.

  6. Guess I need to be more politically correct

    1 why are we paying 884,000 dollars to 14 employees of the RDA when it basically doesn’t exist anymore.  Then paying 450,000 after July 1 to just 5 jobs?

    2   how are you (RDA) going to pay off the 3.8 BILLION dollars in debt? 

    3 How is the city going to pay off the 1.5 BILLION still owed for the airport remodel?

    4 Why are we giving tax breaks to one airline over three years to just have one international flight?  SFO does 20 a day to Asia and 13 to Europe!

    5 Can we drop the international title to SJ airport when in reality we just fly within the US.

    6 Why is the RDA paying for a field of dreams BB ball park that will end in lost money to the city.

    7 How will the city pay back 18 Million a year taken from the general fund to pay for pet projects? How along has this been going on and when will this spending end?

    8 Quit blaming pensions, fiscal emergency for all of the council failures!

    Thank You for your non response!

    • Why not send this to RDA ,or Diridon Developement , or the Financing Authority or City Council , Since all of these Departments consist of THE SAME 11 PEOPLE!!  All of these people complain about “Double Dipping” , and City Council is the worst offender! People need to begin educating themselves so they can see the blatant corruption that is San Jose .

  7. The RDA when it arrived in San Jose was like candy being given to kids.  Money was handed out with NO concept of a Pay back.  How does the city respond to this action…They create a “NEW PROBLEM”  What better way to take the eye off the ball than Pension Reform.  Let’s turn the public against all unions in the city.  Demonize public safety.  Throw a curve ball with the stadium idea.  ALL THE TIME THE REAL TIME BOMB is the city if they have to pay back on the RDA.  With no means to bay back the blood bath of city services was the only chance of paying back.  I found it amusing how they (MAYOR & COUNCIL) refused to do an audit.  We as people of this city should demand an audit and see who got this money what they did with this money and who are the members of the City of San Jose Skull and BONES.  We can all surmise who.  We need SUNSHINE at the City MGR’S office with a full accounting.  This will probably make Bell Calif look like a small accounting mistake compared to SJRDA

  8. PLO- Thanks for continuing to stand up against this mindless push to build yet more affordable housing.
    More troubling than the housing itself is that the people of this country are so complacent in the face of such an egregious misuse of tax dollars.

  9. If this bill (authored by a Democrat) does pass, it will be because a whole bunch of (Democrat) Legislators voted for it. If Brown (a Democrat) fails to veto it, then it will become law and San Jose will be blessed with yet more affordable housing (thanks to Democrats).
    But hey. They’re pro-union so let’s keep reelecting them.

    • this is not just about 1 party over the other . we are in this situation because of politics ( on both sides ) so stop pointing fingers and lets find a solution

  10. Build low income housing and low income people will come to San Jose

    Low income people will come along with more city budget problems – no property taxes, no fees etc to pay for more required city services or spreading few city services San Jose can pay for over larger populations

    Low income poor people have more crime, more social problems because they have less education, less work skills etc  

    San Jose needs more highly educated people with high demand work skills not less to attract and retain more good paying jobs not more low paying private sector jobs with more high paid city workers to run city low income housing and social services programs

    San Jose has built more low income housing than any city in California and city budget and service have declined while city debt increases

    Council has not attracted needed businesses and good jobs that pay for city services like other cities but continues to drive away businesses with highest city taxes and costly unnecessarily bureaucratic city policies in Northern California

  11. PO, you don’t care about affordable housing. Why even bother to pretend. You’ve already stated that non-union is cheaper. You don’t care about the working class or poor people. You only care about yourself and your rich supporters. I hope the people of San José wise up in June and send you packing!

    • Tim, how are you the only person to think ‘affordable housing’ (AKA ‘the projects’ or however you wish to label them) is a good idea? Or even a smart one in this recession? You can’t help anyone until you get yourself solid. This city is in a tight fiscal situation. The most foolish thing we can do is acquire more debt, especially debt that is designed to never pay itself off.
      Affordable housing is a swell idea. But the reality is that we can barely afford to feed ourselves (if you believe the mayor) let alone give handouts to people who won’t even support themselves. Times are too tough to prop up random households of unemployed people. Let them move to gilroy or Modesto were rent is affordable. I work too damn hard to see my taxes raised, services to my family that my taxes paid for get cut, while deadbeats live off of my hardwork.
      Maybe those people shouldn’t have skipped classes in jr high and high school and got high. Maybe they deserve to suffer economically because they never made the effort to EARN a good life. I worked two jobs while raising a family and going to school 9-12 units at a time to finish college so I can have a decent home. People who want to hand out what I worked for, paid for by my hard work no less, can go to hell.  Why does every kid on the east side get free breakfast but us on the west side have to pay for our own food? It’s my taxes, feed my kids first! I’m Latino and I made it so don’t cry to me about color lines. It is effort and self respect coupled with desire/drive that makes ALL of the difference.

  12. We don’t need more affordable housing!  We just need the A’s!  They will be our knights in shining armor, that will elevate our city to such celebrity, everyone will know the way to San Jose!  Just look at how our citenzry celebrates football over the weekend!  Gee, I can’t wait til we have the A’s downtown.  I find it peculiar that this was not mentioned anywhere in the Mercury News, don’t you?


  13. Coffin not closed yet……………It needs to be slammed shut on your greedy(city council masquerading as RDA)little fingers! it is so funny that you (PLO) think people believe that you actually care about anything other than PLO! We dont need anymore low-income housing . we dont need any more cuts to public safety , we dont need to destroy the working class , we dont need a ballpark , we dont need to give away valuable real estate. What we really need is to replace the majority of the city council ! we need pension reform with an agreement from city workers. we need the truth to told , not the lies that this Mayor and council have perpetrated against the working class and residents of San Jose.  we need to come together to take this city back from Millionaire/ developers like McEnery , Swenson , Sobrato and lets not forget L. Wolfe. This City belongs to the residents of San Jose , not the politicians.We Nedd to Take this city Back!

    • I generally agree with your drift but do me a favor. Please carefully reread Pierluigi’s article, then explain why you have the impression that he’s in favor of more low income housing. My take on it is that he’s AGAINST it. One of us must be wrong about Councilman Oliverio.

      • Like so many pols PLO has ability to say, “I was actually voted FOR ________before I voted against ________(it)!”

        Sen Kerry voted to fund the war in Iraq before it was politically expedient to come out against it.

        Chuck Reed actually voted for every pay/benefit/retirement package that every city employee barganing unit negotiated with the City before he relatively recently came out against them.

        …and PLO has actually voted in favor of projects that include subsidized housing for the low income especially when they are going to be built in his own District 6 – (the mid-town project comes to mind – becasue it includes a retail component –  don’t ya know!).

        HE is uber-courageous when it comes to voting AGAINST other low-income housing projects! When the informal polling amongst Council/RDA members is done out of pulic view and illegally in violation of the Brown Act, and it looks like the proposal to build will be apporved unanimously you can count on PLO to be the LONE “NAY” vote.  PLO is a modern “Profile in Courage!”

  14. PO,

    Seems like you did leave the coffin open just long enough to steal and last money that was saved for affordable housing. So once again you rob peter to pay john.

    Why doesn’t the major just come out and say the RDA is the city council!  That you control the funds and will do damn well what you please.  Where did that 3 billion go to improve downtown and why was there no mention of the 3.8 billion still owed and no comment about the 18 million stole (I’m sorry) borrowed from the cities general fund?

    I guess Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen summed it up for the whole council “But it is what it is.”

    Just the kind of leadership we need to solve the mess we are in.

    • Suggestion to all, how do we get this information out to the general public.  The Mercury News will not print the real facts.  And I see the same concerned few on this blog.  SJ needs a real change in leadership and not the same old answers.

      Yes the 99% does exist, those that have no clue about the inter-workings of the San Jose city council and do not take the time to educate themselves.  Oh, the city put a ballot measure, heck yeah vote yes, unless it involves taxes.  Take the time to research the measures and candidates for council.

      If this culture is not changed they will continue to drink the cool-aid and we will just stay the same.  In debt for years to come.  There is no fiscal emergency, it is about lack of leadership.

      And one of these clowns will move up to Chucks spot and nothing will change.  Blame will just be passed on to former councils, mayors and we will be in the same hole.  BUT low income housing and a field of dreams we solve all of our fiscal problems.

      Time to wake up San jose!

  15. PLO: You didn’t read the Judges ruling! Because if you did you would know that the Judge said, “No RDA in any form or money diferred in any form to any type of business that does RDA”. “Coffin not closed yet” You had better check that again!