News & Media

SDOP fights San Diego's real estate tax increment plan

June 23, 2010

San Diego Organizing Project (SDOP)

The Rev. Wilbert Miller, Pastor of First Lutheran Church, speaking to San Diego City Council on behalf of SDOP

In April the San Diego Organizing Project (SDOP) learned that the Centre City Development Corporation (CCDC), the downtown San Diego redevelopment agency, wished to collect an additional six-billion dollars in "real estate tax increment" generated by potential future redevelopment.  At the time there was little challenge or concern inside or outside of San Diego City Hall about how a transfer of redevelopment tax revenues would affect finances for the City of San Diego and to San Diego County.  However, SDOP was concerned.  Continuing economic difficulties for the past several years have forced the city to make deep cuts to the budgets of our police, fire, library, and park and recreation departments.  A decision by the San Diego City Council regarding increased redevelopment tax increment would also affect other local governmental units such as the San Diego Unified School District which contemplates devastating funding cuts to education.  SDOP leaders and clergy cannot support shifting $6-billion to benefit downtown San Diego redevelopment and associated interests at the expense of programs and services needed by families throughout the entire city.

San Diego City Council was scheduled on April 27th to approve a feasibility study relating to extending the life of the redevelopment agency CCDC and future downtown redevelopment.  SDOP leaders convinced City Council to delay its vote for two months to allow time for full consideration of the decision.  SDOP immediately got busy.  SDOP leaders studied state of California redevelopment law, met with San Diego City Council members, and researched alternative ways to address the city's general fund budget deficit.

The SDOP efforts paid off.  At its June 22nd meeting San Diego City Council approved the $500-thousand feasibility study.  However, Council added several stipulations sought by SDOP to the scope of the study.  As the result of our efforts, Council directed the study will:

  • Research raising the affordable housing set-aside requirement rate to 30%. If that were to occur, an additional $60-million could be available for needed affordable housing.
  • Examine the possibility of the redevelopment agency assuming current municipal debt payments now funded by the city's general fund through tourism tax revenues. As much as $30-million annually could be redirected to youth services and programs that SDOP leaders have sought for three years.