By Wendy Leung, Staff Writer
Created: 01/13/2012 03:41:57 PM PST

RANCHO CUCAMONGA – Clearly frustrated about the loss of its redevelopment agency, the City Council is contemplating the new year without much of the funding slated for capital improvement and economic development.

Many city goals will retreat to the proverbial back burner while other projects may never come to fruition. Without a redevelopment agency, the planned overpass on Etiwanda Avenue at the Metrolink rail crossing is nixed. If bond funding cannot be restored, projects that are halfway complete, like the Hellman Avenue storm drain project and Foothill Boulevard widening, will remain in infrastructure purgatory.

Despite the gloomy outlook, Mayor Dennis Michael is trying to look on the bright side.

“There’s going to be great things in 2012,” Michael said. “I look forward to 2012.”

At a special meeting Wednesday at the Victoria Gardens Cultural Center, staff members outlined a number of projects that will survive. Among them is an ambitious plan to equip certain areas of the city with high-tech security cameras for the Sheriff’s Department.

Capt. Mike Newcombe showed a series of surveillance camera footage borrowed from Redlands, a city equipped with more than 120 similar cameras. City Council watched scenes showing drug use, shooting, tagging and other crimes caught on camera.

“This will not only help with nuisance crimes, it’ll help with quality of life,” said Newcombe, who serves as the city’s police chief. “This will help our city be even safer.”

The plan is to install 10 cameras initially at Victoria Gardens next year.

“We have a higher volume of people at Victoria Gardens than anywhere else in the city,” said City Manager John Gillison. “It’s our crown jewel in more ways than one and we want people to feel as safe as possible there.”

The first phase of the camera project will cost about $280,000. The bulk of the cost will come from federal grant money although some general fund money could be used.

“Down the road, the goal could be to have 100 to 150 cameras,” Newcombe said.

Also new at the Sheriff’s Department is the establishment of a probation compliance team.

“The team will go out eight to 10 hours a day doing compliance checks so people on parole know we’re going to be keeping tabs on them,” Newcombe said.

This program comes on the heels of the public safety realignment signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, which requires low-level inmates released from state prison on parole to report to county probation officers.

“Just like the state doesn’t care about raiding local budgets, they don’t really care if they’re letting out dangerous criminals,” Gillison said.

If city leaders sound peeved, they are.

In an effort to balance the state’s massive budget deficit, Brown proposed the elimination of California redevelopment agencies. On the eve of the New Year holiday, the state Supreme Court upheld the move.

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