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How RDA could have been used differently
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin,

You asked the question, “What would Manteca be like today had Brown killed RDAs off 15 years ago?”  I would like to pose a similar question:  “What would Manteca be like today had the City Council focused for the past 15 years on using RDA to improve the quality of life of our residents?”

Redevelopment was designed as a funding mechanism to assist local agencies in improving the quality of life.  However, “quality of life” can be defined somewhat broadly, to include a new library, a major retail center, a homeless shelter, improved sewer infrastructure, downtown revitalization, and more. Since communities are different and priorities vary, it was left up to each agency to determine how RDA was to accomplish the task.  Rather than share RDA between the development community and the needs of the residents, the City Council focused on investing the increasing property tax increment on developer projects under the auspices of economic development. 

Had Brown killed off RDA 15 years ago, I believe that Manteca would be considerably different today because the tax increment utilized by RDA would have been used instead to improve quality of life. The growth of the tax increment would have been slower, and consequently the revenue stream needed for the community amenities and improvements would have been slow in coming.  Not such a bad proposition as the community would have spent what it actually earned. Instead, the City Council elected to encumber Manteca residents by accelerating the tax increment growth process, then to leverage the future tax increment increases to secure loans to assist new commercial developments that enhanced the lives of others. 

Today we have several new major commercial retail centers, with the prospect of others to come.  We still do not have housing affordable for our existing and future workforces, downtown continues to deteriorate, the library is growing smaller, city hall and the police have outgrown their facilities, there is no community cultural/arts center, routine infrastructure maintenance is delayed, a needed new fire station is postponed, cut-rate streets paving is utilized, needed roadway circulation improvements are deferred, and so on.  On a more positive note: After 40 years a new municipal maintenance yard and an animal shelter are finally under construction.

Benjamin Cantu
July 19, 2011