Redevelopment funds have helped pave Hesperia's streets, open the new branch library and downtown park, and build new fire and police stations.


But future funds evaporated Thursday, after the California Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers have the authority to eliminate redevelopment agencies and direct the property tax funds that used to flow from them to cities such as Hesperia instead to schools and other local services.


Hesperia's City Council in August had voted unanimously to pay $7.1 million to "ransom" its agency back from the state. However, the Supreme Court also struck down Assembly Bill 27, the governor's plan to allow the agencies to opt in to an alternative redevelopment system if they agreed to pay a percentage of revenue back to the state this year and smaller amounts annually going forward.


"This is going to make it even more difficult to make business grow in California and increase the tax base and job creation, which are the two things that California exactly needs," Hesperia Mayor Russ Blewett said.


Critics say many of the agencies have strayed from that intent and instead have evolved to benefit private developers, while audits have revealed questionable projects and some misuse of money.


However, Hesperia is the only Victor Valley agency to submit job and development figures to the state. Those figures show Hesperia's Redevelopment Agency collected $123 million in tax increment over five fiscal years, from July 2004 to June 2009. During that time, the city reported 1.2 million square feet of new development and 477 jobs that were spurred by the money.


The Supreme Court justices said because the state Legislature authorized the creation of redevelopment agencies, it has the power to eliminate them.


"This state is so upside down, so messed up, that everything virtually everything in this state is a rip-off for some group instead of being for the good of the general populous," Blewett said. "I loathe the ground that Jerry Brown walks on."


The court decision also threatens the existence of the Victor Valley Economic Development Authority, which includes a portion of Hesperia since it was created to oversee redevelopment of a 16-square-mile area impacted by the closure of George Air Force Base. VVEDA officials are hoping the agency will be insulated from the new bills since the agency was formed through special legislation two decades ago.


While the long-awaited Ranchero Road Underpass will move forward as planned, Blewett said he doesn't know where the city will get funding for the Ranchero Interchange or for the next phase of the Super Target complex.


"We've created hundreds of jobs if not thousands of jobs with our RDA," Blewett said. "How are we going to do that now?"


Supverising Editor Brooke Edwards Staggs and the Associated Press contributed to this report.