As I have reported to you in the past, the City of Santa Clara and Chamber have been working very hard to keep over 100 acres of Santa Clara real estate out of the hands of the State, County and other taxing agencies that make up our Oversight Board. Unfortunately, the courts in Sacramento recently ruled that Governor Brown’s RDA Dissolution law is legal and all assets purchased with redevelopment funds must now be returned to the State and Oversight Board agencies.
Many cities in California spent their RDA funds on human resources, studies and other miscellaneous City projects. Santa Clara invested their funds in purchasing land and building a convention center to provide future revenues for the City and to promote economic development. In fact, several years ago, the City Council made a bold decision and asked the voters to approve purchasing the Great America property with RDA funds. The voters approved this and not only saved the amusement park from closing, but also brought in an additional $5 million a year in lease revenue to the City’s general fund. The Convention Center, Hyatt Regency, Tech Mart and Hilton Hotel were other examples of this sound RDA investment strategy.
The overall strategy paid off and brought over $13 million a year in lease revenue to the City’s general fund to pay for police, fire and infrastructure improvements. It also led the way to major expansion and development of our North of Bayshore area.
Unfortunately, Governor Brown and the legislature passed a law that will now take these assets away from the City. The Oversight Board is moving forward swiftly to move the land assets and Convention Center away from the City to be sold to the highest bidder. These proceeds will not be coming to the City and will be dispersed to the Oversight Board member’s taxing organizations and State as required by law.
I hope you agree with me and find this is simply outrageous. Unfortunately, there is little we can do since the court has made a final ruling in favor of the Governor’s law. We do hope that the Convention Center will remain under the control of the City, but it is still too early to know what will finally happen.
Imagine our Convention Center being run and owned by another company that has no skin in the game. They could do whatever they wanted to meet their bottom line numbers reporting to agencies that don’t even represent the City. We certainly hope this does not become the final outcome.
We are working very closely with the City Manager and Council in making every effort to be sure our voice is heard throughout this process. If you’d like to have your voice heard, please reach out to Ken Yeager your County Supervisor. He can be reached at 408-299-5040 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Van Dorn
Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce & Convention-Visitors Bureau President and CEO