By John Howard | 01/05/12 12:00 AM PST

Hundreds of redevelopment agencies across California are poised to dismantle their operations in less than a month, but new legislation backed by the agencies was poised to be introduced as early as next week that would provide several months of breathing space to cut a new deal.

The state Supreme Court’s decision ordering some 400 agencies to be abolished takes effect Feb. 1. The agencies hope to push back that deadline to to April 15 negotiate a new agreement with the Brown administration and Legislature that would keep a reconfigured redevelopment system in place. A second bill, reflecting any negotiated agreements, also will be proposed.

Redevelopment supporters said the court’s ruling effectively gave them only a month to dismantle the redevelopment agencies, a complex task.

The two-step package signed by Brown for the strapped 2011-12 budget abolished the agencies to capture some $1.7 billion in redevelopment funds, but left open the option of letting them remain in existence if they paid fees – a provision that the court struck down. The court’s two-pronged decision effectively eliminates the agencies entirely.

Redevelopment has been a fixture in California government for more than 60 years. The idea is that agencies use tax money to eliminate blight and improve the economic climate of communities, then reap rewards when the improved property yields great tax receipts.

But numerous news reports have identified communities that used redevelopment funds to pay for salaries, bloated perks for officials and projects that had little or nothing to do with eliminating blight.

Despite the problems, there appears to be an interest in the Democrat-controlled Legislature to keep redevelopment in some form.

Assembly Speaker John Perez said the court’s decision validated the Legislature’s authority to eliminate the redevelopment agencies, but said the court also blocked the creation of “smaller, more targeted redevelopment agencies that fully funded affordable housing.”

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