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Union City Sues State Again Over Redevelopment Funds

The state’s rejection of redevelopment dollars will impact local low-income families, seniors and the city’s in-progress transit community, the city says.

The City of Union City is suing the state due to the Department of Finance prohibiting the city from using redevelopment agency dollars to fund programs and existing obligations.

“The City is taking this necessary legal action to protect the public assets of our residents and our General Fund revenues, to continue to provide the current level of City services, to complete transit- oriented development projects, and to support social services programs,” the city said in a press release Tuesday.

Nearly 400 redevelopment agencies across the state were dissolved by Gov. Jerry Brown last February with the agencies’ collective $1.7 billion used to help close California’s budget gap.

As a pre-emptive measure in February 2011, the redevelopment agency began issuing bonds and transferred redevelopment assets over to the city in order to continue redevelopment projects, which includes the ongoing work in the transit-oriented Station District.

Redevelopment dollars also fund low-income housing, rental assistance for low-income seniors at the Tropics Mobile Home Park, employment services for disabled persons and social services for local nonprofit Centro de Servicios, an organization that plays a vital role in quelling gang violence and supporting the community, according to the City of Union City.

The Department of Finance, however, recently rejected the use of those bond and agency dollars for those services and programs, placing the financial burden on the city. The city doesn’t have the financial means to support all of the redevelopment obligations, leaving those programs at risk, city staff said.

On Tuesday, the City of Union City filed a lawsuit against the Department of Finance, the California State Controller and the Alameda Audit Controller, challenging the rejection.

According to city staff, city officials met with the Department of Finance in October and December to stress the importance of continuing the redevelopment agency’s social services and completing the transit community centered around the BART station.

While much of the city’s vision has come to light — the city unveiled its new in November — what remains is “Union City BART Phase II,” a project that would open the east side of the station to allow access to the station from both sides and create a pedestrian promenade. The project has been in the making for more than a decade with millions of dollars invested in it, according to city staff.

“The DOF arbitrarily rejected the City’s factual arguments without serious analysis.  Consequently, the City had no other alternative but to file suit challenging the DOF’s unsupported decisions,” city staff said in a press release. “By the State reaching into cities’ general funds to absorb revenues, it threatens Union City’s public assets and the ability to provide local services to residents, especially the most at-risk populations – seniors, low-income families, disabled population and youth.”

This isn’t the first time the City of Union City has sued the state over redevelopment issues.

In July 2011, the City of Union City joined the City of San Jose, the League of California Cities and the California Redevelopment Association in a California in an unsuccessful California Supreme Court lawsuit that questioned the legality of the shutting down redevelopment agencies in the first place.

The issue has been a contentious one for city and regional leaders across the state in recent years, with many equating the state’s seizure of redevelopment dollars to robbery.

Former Union City financial officer Richard Digre said in a 2011 interview that, “It’s like someone jumping out of a bush with a gun saying, ‘Your money or your life.’”

RELATED STORIES:

  • Governor's Budget Would Halt BART Development
  • Union City Continues to Combat State over Redevelopment
  • Union City Sues State over Redevelopment Laws
  • A Moment of Relief—and Suspense—for Redevelopment
  • City Staff Positions At Risk in Redevelopment Dissolution
  • City Unveils New Station Center

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Zinn January 30, 2013 at 06:16 PM
Good luck with this suit..
Bong Sativa January 30, 2013 at 07:29 PM
The Union City City Council has repeatably violated their oath of office to uphold state law by banning medical marijuana dispensaries & defying the will of the voters,legislature,courts & the majority of their constituents ! It's time to charge them with malfeasance,remove them from office & replace them with more intelligent & compassionate civic leaders who'll willingly comply with state law & who'll put the needs of their neighbors before their own personal biases ! Everytime the city defies the state they lose,so let's speed the process along by cleaning house & replace not only our elected leaders,but the City Manager,City Attorney & Police Chief as well !!!
Elaine Navarro January 30, 2013 at 08:42 PM
Union City has assisted many mobile home owners in the past, with redevelopment funds. I have lived here for over 25 years. Now that I am on social security and cannot afford general repairs, I was hoping to get assistance like I have in the past. It is so disappointing and actually feels like the state is discriminating against poor senior.
Tim January 30, 2013 at 09:28 PM
Nothing in this article has anything to do with weed. There's more to life than this plant you obsess over. You really should get out more.
Bong Sativa January 31, 2013 at 12:12 AM
Just the irrational & ridiculous comments of another right-wing loser,Tim has finally been marginalized to the point of non-existance as we all know that everything goes better with a bag of "weed" !!! And I do get out often enough to purchase my "weed" legally in cities nearby (and pay sales tax into their coffers) & bring it back here to consume like thousands of my neighbors do on a daily basis. If it's legal for patients to use in Union City & medical marijuana dispensaries are legal under present state law,there is no rational reason for the city to attack the rights of cannabis patients by denying them "safe & legal access" to their medication in their hometown !
F Street January 31, 2013 at 01:00 AM
Bring the dispensaries back to UC!!!!
Tim January 31, 2013 at 01:14 AM
I have no problem with your drug habits. I quite frankly couldn't care less if you were shooting up heroin. I don't give a damn whether or not Union City allows your pot shops or not. Why don't you get off the cucumber you're sitting on and go do something about it rather than post the same nonsense talking points over and over again on articles that have NOTHING to do with weed.
keep it real January 31, 2013 at 03:09 AM
Wow. Tim posts to almost every article. Yet, does not heed his own advise. Stop posting and do something. I think while bong sativas point is in the wrong article he makes a valid point. The city is losing out on a lot of tax revenue. Not only from the clubs but the people they employ. The city of union city is in debt deeply and does not want to do anything to dig itself out. I think now is the time to be creative. Stop looking for government hand out. Do as many of us have been doing and live by the "if we don't have the cash we dont need it" philosophy.
alexis January 31, 2013 at 05:09 AM
And hope union city wins it Centro de servicios needs it! They have done soo much for families and just people in general
Sam January 31, 2013 at 06:23 PM
They're going to lose. All the losers out there are going to have to get a job and earn a living and stop relying on hand outs because the money isn't coming back. Prop 30 just sealed the exodus of many of the so-called rich. Just ask Phil Mickelson... or Tiger Woods who already left for Florida and their 0.0% state income tax. These peoeple won't be paying the new 13.3% CA state income tax. No, they are leaving CA altogether so now the state gets nothing and will have to come after the middle class next.
Tim January 31, 2013 at 08:49 PM
Why would I go out and "do something" about "weed policy"? I'm not the one on a crusade against Union City's ban on pot shops. I'm utterly indifferent. I couldn't care less. I was merely pointing out to "Bong Sativa" aka "Brash Brazen" aka "Summer Hemphill" that this article has nothing to do with marijuana and his rants are pathetic and useless.
Bong Sativa February 01, 2013 at 03:41 PM
Too bad that you can't afford to move too,maybe we should pass the hat in an effort to speed up your departure for one of those impoverished red states full of inbred mouth breathers that Californians subsidize with their federal tax dollars !

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