State Controller Raps Coronado’s Redevelopment Agency

City Hall

Coronado’s redevelopment agency was taken to task in a report issued by the state controller’s office Monday. The report criticized the city for what it included in its project area and for its failure to track the number of jobs created by the agency. Coronado also failed to meet the state’s filing requirements.

“The city of Coronado’s project area includes all privately owned property within the city’s limits, which includes oceanfront properties among multimillion dollar homes,” according to the report.

Councilwoman Carrie Downey defended the boundaries, saying they reflected the era in which they were created.

“We did it that way because, at the time, you could do it that way,” said Downey. “When the CDA [the Coronado Development Agency] was created in 1985, the definition of blight was so broad that Coronado could legally justify including the entire city in its area.” 

The CDA was one of 18 redevelopment agencies across the state audited by State Controller John Chiang. Critics of redevelopment claim communities have gamed the system by using money that was supposed to gentrify abandoned or dilapidated neighborhoods and build affordable housing. 

Coronado redevelopment is not neighborhood specific. “The key provision in our development plan is to improve public facilities and infrastructure that benefits the entire city,” said Rachael Hurst, director of community development.

 This was perfectly legal in 1985 when the agency was established, she said.

 “The law has changed numerous times over the years and it has gotten stricter every time it changed, but these changes never affected Coronado,” Hurst said.  “The rules apply when a project area is established and since we haven’t added a new project area, there was never an occasion to revisit it.” 

 While the law was tightened, the definition of blight remains broad enough that “under current legal standards, virtually any condition could be construed to be blight,” Chiang said.  

Coronado was also cited for not tracking the number of jobs created by its redevelopment agency. “We didn’t track jobs, because it was not required at the time,” Downey said.  

“We could do it. If that what it takes to restore public confidence, we will,” she said. “All of the work was construction. All of it was through open bidding and part of the public record. We could go back and pull those files and supply that information.”

City Manger Blair King had not had a chance to read the report and did not want to commit on it until he had.

Filing information was another area that troubled the state controller. According to his report, none of the 18 agencies reviewed met all of their filing requirements. In some cases the agencies only supplied partial information; others didn’t bother to file at all.

“Coronado did not file an annual fiscal statement for 2009-10,” said Jacob Roper, spokesman for the controller. The reports document all the big ticket expenditures and debts.

“There was no evidence that the omission was intentional. To be fair we found a great deal of genuine confusion over the filing guidelines,” he added.