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Debate Over Redevelopment Heats Up UC Center-Capitol Weekly Conference

A March 24 conference sponsored by UC Center Sacramento and Capitol Weekly newspaper focused on the controversy over abolishing redevelopment agencies.

 The president of the National League of Cities, Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge, gave an impassioned plea to save redevelopment agencies from the fiscal axe wielded by Gov. Jerry Brown, citing the economic stimulus provided by redevelopment. Assm. Chris Norby (R-Brea) characterized those same agencies a scandalous drain on state resources that otherwise could fund schools and social programs.

     Those opposing views, echoed by participants on two panels, identified the demarcation line between redevelopment champions and detractors during a half-day conference co-sponsored by UC Center and Capitol Weekly newsletter. The conference, held March 24 at the Crest Theater in downtown Sacramento, drew an audience of more than 100 and provided a strong overview of the debate over redevelopment. In addition to Loveridge and Norby, panelists included Chris McKenzie, executive director of the California League of Cities; Julie Spezia, executive director of Housing California; Carroll Wills, communications director for the California Professional Firefighters; Mike Madrid, a consultant who works on behalf of redevelopment agencies; Marianne O’Malley from the Legislative Analyst’s Office; and Steve Shea, budget advisor to Senate Pres. pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.

     Ventura Mayor William Fulton, an author and publisher of the California Planning & Development Report, delivered a keynote speech over lunch. Fulton’s pointed message to fellow city officials: get ready for the end of redevelopment as you’ve known it. The panels were moderated by Los Angeles Times reporter Anthony York and KQED Radio reporter John Myers.  

     The conference marked the second half-day event co-sponsored by the Center and Weekly. Last November, the two paired up for an election post-mortem, also held at the Crest. Additional conferences are being discussed for summer.

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