Today’s Chronicle mourns the loss of California’s corrupt redevelopment agencies. One of the cities mentioned is Emeryville, a strange choice given their status as one of the worst abusers of redevelopment:
“It’s a really huge impact on what Emeryville’s done, and what it can do,” said Helen Bean, the city’s economic development and housing director. Emeryville’s redevelopment budget this year was less than $30 million.
At stake, for instance, is a transit center planned for 59th and Horton streets, near the city’s Amtrak station. Of its $60 million price tag, $4 million was going to come from redevelopment, Bean said.
Other projects at risk include the planned Emeryville Center for the Arts, whose $12 million budget relied on $8 million in redevelopment money. Then there is the South Bayfront Pedestrian-Bicycle Bridge, which would arch over the railroad tracks near the Bay Street mall. It would have cost $13 million in redevelopment money, and the city had already spent more than $1 million designing it. But now it won’t be built, Bean said.
“It’s a key infrastructure project that will just not go forward,” she said.
Let’s set the record straight. The Amtrak “transit center” is actually a massive parking garage project.
And the bike bridge? Emeryville was handed — on a silver platter — a bike/ped undercrossing in that location back in 1994. The undercrossing was to be a mitigation for an I80 HOV project. But some NIMBY residents freaked out, and the tunnel idea was killed. Emeryville then wasted the past 15 years trying to get a bridge built instead.