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Nathan Fletcher talks redevelopment cap increase

December 22, 2010 - 5:34 pm

Nathan Fletcher (photo by David Rolland)

Due to the limitations of print, there was a lot I wasn’t able to fit into my article this week about a lawsuit challenging the elimination of the cap on Downtown redevelopment spending.

For starters, there are actually two lawsuits: the one I wrote about (and blogged about last month), filed by Affordable Housing Advocates’ attorney Catherine Rodman and two other attorneys, and one filed by former City Attorney Mike Aguirre (you can download both lawsuits and the city’s response here). Rodman’s suit is pretty straightforward. While she’s got several causes of action, the main one argues that the city needs to amend its plan for how future redevelopment money will be spent, with an eye on eliminating blight and creating more housing for low-income San Diegans. Aguirre’s lawsuit, filed against the state’s Board of Equalization, Department of Finance and Department of Housing and Community Development, challenges the validity of the legislation that lifted the cap. Aguirre’s lawsuit argues that the legislation was passed without a hearing or public vetting and, also, without an official finding that the redevelopment area still contains blight. Both lawsuits ask that a judge declare SB 863, the legislation that lifted the cap, null and void.

In late November, shortly after the lawsuits were filed, I talked to Nathan Fletcher, the local assemblymember who sponsored SB 863. He told me that he and his staff had gone through the both lawsuits. “We haven’t found any merit in any of them,” he said.

Fletcher discussed two issues that have come up about how the bill was passed, both of which are addressed in the lawsuits. (Voiceofsandiego.org’s Liam Dillon wrote a good piece about procedural issues with SB 863 back in November):

The rule that legislation can’t be passed until three days after it’s read in the Senate and Assembly: “The bill had been read three times,” Fletcher said, “but when you amend it, you don’t have to read it three times. Once it’s amended, it only has to be read one more time. It was read one more time the day it was amended. People can criticize that process, but the process was followed.” And, he added, “The three-day rule doesn’t apply to budge trailer bills anyway.”

The single-subject rule, which says “a statute shall embrace but one subject”: Fletcher said that when the Legislature’s legal counsel drafts legislation, they “go through a whole series of analyses—is this constitutional? Does this apply to all the rules? One of the things they check on is single subject. [SB 863 is] very solid on single subject because they all apply to local government and a particular local government finding.

Regarding arguments that increasing the cap means less money directed to the city’s general fund, the county and schools, Fletcher said he grilled Mayor Jerry Sanders’ office and CCDC officials beforehand to make sure that wasn’t the case.

I was very clear before I did it in asking a number of things: I said, ‘Does this hurt the general fund?’ And I got the [Independent Budget Analyst] report which shows it doesn’t. You lose a little property tax, but you more than make up for it in sales and [hotel-room] tax, and so the city comes out ahead. I said, ‘Does this hurt local schools?’ It doesn’t. We’re not quite done with the analysis, but we think it helps local schools. At minimum, they get the same amount of money. Can you work it out with the county so that they are not hurt? You can—the city can work out pass-through [tax-sharing] agreements with the county.

And I said, ‘So what we’re really debating here is, are we going to bring more money to San Diego to invest in a whole range of infrastructure and it’s money that without lifting the cap we otherwise would not have got? And folks said, yes. And I said, ‘By doing this action, we aren’t committing one penny of the money? There will be a full public process before any of it’s actually spent?’ And they said ‘Yes, the council has to vote on each of the projects.’ And so I felt confident the public will be fully engaged on each of the projects. The council can make thoughtful decisions and, in essence, what we did was kind of come together to say, Hey, we think it’s important that we fight for San Diego and that we keep this local property tax money in San Diego.

“San Diego is essentially a donor state,” Fletcher said. “What we pay in taxes we don’t get back in state services. There’s a lot of reasons for it. L.A. has a very large and powerful delegation, the Bay Area has proximity. And so this is just getting us a step closer to making sure that San Diegans’ money is spent in San Diego.”

I’ve got at least a couple more blog posts’ worth of stuff (which will probably wait until after Christmas) on the cap increase, lawsuits and what housing advocates say need to be priorities for future spending.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. iantrowbridge permalink
    December 22, 2010 - 10:15 pm 10:15 pm

    What would one expect Nathan Fletcher to say? I’ll be interested to see how the law siiuts proceed especially the Aguirre filing.

  2. July 28, 2011 - 4:17 pm 4:17 pm

    We are a small but fast growing grass roots org. who has uncovered a very dangerous situation in San Diego CA

    NATHAN FLETCHER IS A DANGER TO CHILDREN! He has given a deaf to this dangerous situation to children from sex offenders; we have now filed a law suit in federal court to stop this dangerous situation, WIIL YOU PLEASE HELP THE WORD OUT?

    See details at http://www.lawsuit.tk

    CONCERNED CITIZENS OF SAN DIEGO CA.

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