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Sycamore Creek in Vista slated to become affordable housing for seniors by 2017

Seal of the City of Vista
Seal of the City of Vista
Carla Miles

Finding a clean, well-lit, affordable home in the City of Vista may be a tough search for some, but seniors may take heart in City Manager Patrick Johnson's news that the Sycamore Creek site is slated to become affordable housing for seniors by 2017.

Speaking in a question and answer format before interested Leadership Academy participants last week, Johnson stated that while the city is not required by the state of California to provide affordable housing, there is an existing fund and assets designated for affordable housing of the city.

Sycamore Creek is an affordable housing fund asset, according to the City Manager, who adds the timetable is clear on the matter.

"... in 2017 we have to have construction or some activity beginning on that property, or we are in default, and the state can go after us and charge us penalties."

Dale Nielson, Director of Finance andCity Treasurer for the City, added:

"When redevelopment dissolved, we had to make a decision. Do we want to keep our affordable housing money by way of ... creating a housing authority and then continue our efforts with those funds or ... turn all the assets over to the state, and it would have become their issue."

The City Manager also highlighted the advantage for local control of the money which came from tax increments:

"So we could have done that in February 2012. We could have said we will give the state back all the assets, but then we wouldn't be able to control what we want to do in the city."

Money and control issues

In thinking about the situation, it boils down to control of the money and assets.

"The abolishment of redevelopment programs," according to a story at the PublicCEO website, "touched off what has proven to be an enduring polticial and legal fight between the state and local governments."

As of last month, the PublicCEO article states, "... a total of 181 lawsuits had been filed by local governments challenging the state’s move on various grounds." And of those cases, 82 were actually decided in the state’s favor, while only six have gone against the state.

After a major dismantling of the $5 billion-a-year redevelopment program two years ago by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature, the article reports that "Brown wants to bring some elements back — but he’s offering less money, a different name and a change in local voters’ approval."

An item in TheCaliforniaReport recently reports that there is a tough housing market in parts of the state, and gives partial blame to the state when it "... did away with Redevelopment Agencies two years ago. For all their faults, the agencies were legally required to devote a fifth of their revenue to affordable housing -- about a $1 billion a year."

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