Cities around California got a double-dose of bad news on Dec. 29, when the state supreme court both upheld Gov. Jerry Brown's ability to shut down their redevelopment agencies and struck down an Assembly bill that had allowed them to "ransom" back their agencies from the state which Hesperia had done in August, to the tune of $7.1 million.


Redevelopment agencies funded economic development and affordable housing by using property tax revenue to back bonds sold to investors. Hesperia's RDA helped fund much of the road paving over the past decade and the now-under-construction Ranchero Road underpass.


But Hesperia officials had long ago prepared for this eventuality and had put a Plan B into motion.


"We've taken many actions, starting back in January 2011, when the first discussions surfaced about the threat (to) redevelopment," Steve Lantsberger, Hesperia's deputy director of Economic Development, said. "We took a lot of proactive steps to, you know, be ready for all eventualities."


For the past year, the city has been creating successors to the redevelopment agency, including the Hesperia Housing Authority and a community development division.


"The housing authority will basically have all of the powers, rights, authorities and assets transferred from the redevelopment agency," Lantsberger said. But unlike the Hesperia RDA, it won't be getting property tax revenue, but will instead be using existing assets transferred over from the RDA. "It doesn't mean we can't go out and seek new funding from (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) or ... other sources of revenue or funding to provide affordable housing."


Despite being prepared for the blow, Lantsberger said the loss of the city's redevelopment agency is bad news.


"It's going to basically, for all intents and purposes, eliminate any future development activity that would have been funded with redevelopment," he said, including road paving and other infrastructure projects in the city.


City officials are now looking for new ways to fund road construction and help new businesses get started in the city.


But with 400 cities and counties losing their redevelopment agencies, there's also the possibility that state officials could provide a new revenue stream for communities or set up a new form of redevelopment assistance, Lantsberger said.


Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.