By Wendy Leung Staff Writer
Posted: 03/10/2011 05:37:27 PM PST

FONTANA – Inland Empire mayors unveiled an online campaign on Thursday urging voters to oppose Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to do away with local redevelopment agencies.

Local officials – including the mayors of Fontana, San Bernardino and Ontario – voiced their staunch opposition to the plan and called on residents to sign a petition on MyVoteCountsCA.org. The initiative, which includes radio advertisements and social media postings, is aimed to convince the governor and Legislature to save redevelopment agencies.

“Our future is increasingly bleak,” said San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris. “If we do not have redevelopment with which to work, we’re out of business.”

Morris and his counterparts in neighboring cities spoke at the Paseo Verde Apartments, an affordable housing complex on Juniper Avenue made possible with redevelopment funds.

Mayor Aquanetta Warren said the 50 units in the first phase of the apartment project are completely occupied with a waiting list of 700 names. When the complex is finished in September 2012, it would have utilized about $18 million of redevelopment money.

Warren said the city’s redevelopment agency is crucial for curbing blight along the nearby Valley Boulevard. She urged voters to sign the petition and tell the politicians in Sacramento they were elected to represent the voters.

“They were not elected to lose their minds,” Warren said.

Local officials have been on the offensive with regard to redevelopment agencies ever since Brown proposed to eliminate them as part of his plan to close a $26.6billion deficit in the state budget. With heightened frustration and colorful language, Inland Empire mayors told a small group of city and community leaders that redevelopment is desperately needed to fund the infrastructure projects that the general fund can not cover.

Ontario Mayor Paul Leon said redevelopment, as an economic engine, could actually help California get out of its cash-strapped state.

“I’m certainly glad my mom didn’t run the house the way they run the state,” Leon said. “Or else we’d all be in the poor house.”

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