Jim Steinberg, Staff Writer
Posted: 02/09/2011 11:18:21 PM PST

FONTANA – The City Council has unanimously passed a resolution in opposition to Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to abolish redevelopment agencies in California, joining a growing number of cities lining up against the plan.

With more than $115 million in tax increment raised each year, Fontana’s redevelopment agency is the fifth largest in California, behind those of Los Angeles, San Jose, San Diego and Oakland, according to the State Controller’s Office.

“This is the economic engine the city uses to generate jobs and infrastructure,” Councilman John Roberts said. “Without it, the ability to develop Fontana comes to a screeching halt.”

Fontana’s resolution is part of a campaign by the California Redevelopment Association, the League of California Cities and other groups to preserve redevelopment agencies in California, which these groups say contribute more than $40 billion annually to California’s economy and create more than $2 billion in state and local taxes in a typical year.

“Every city and county in the region either has passed this or will in the next two weeks,” said John Dutrey, a Montclair council member and a participant in the newly formed Inland Southern California Redevelopment Association.

Redevelopment agencies, local officials say, are responsible for the funding of a range of local projects, from malls to road improvements.

They work by collecting a portion of property taxes from properties within redevelopment
areas over a period of decades. That money is then used in large part to pay off loans that are used to pay for major redevelopment projects.

Brown wants to take between $1.35 billion and

$1.7 billion out of redevelopment agencies this year, lawmakers and county officials have said.

That has cities lining up against the governor’s plan.

Montclair passed a similar resolution to Fontana’s last week, Dutrey said.

The Inland Southern California Redevelopment Organization was formed last month in response to Gov. Brown’s announced plans to abolish redevelopment agencies.

The group expects to focus regional opposition to Brown’s proposal and ultimately meet with him, Dutrey said.

Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren, who is also active in the Inland Redevelopment Association, said Tuesday that she is concerned that Brown might work out favorable terms for redevelopment agencies in the state’s largest population areas.

Representatives supporting redevelopment agencies in the state’s 10 most populous cities recently met with Brown.

Warren said that the coalition in the Inland Empire is important for preserving a voice in what might be a contest with big metro areas.

Dutrey, who is also housing program manager for Rialto, said, “we want to make sure our voice is heard, not just the 10 largest cities.”

Warren said that agencies were “easy pickings” as a source of revenue for the state.

Few in the general public understand the important role they play in the creation of jobs, eliminating blight and providing affordable housing, Warren said.

Warren and Dutrey said that public education is an important part of the campaign.

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