Frequently Asked Questions
What is Redevelopment and the Redevelopment Agency?
Redevelopment is the activity carried out by the Agency and consists of actions taken to eliminate blight from a designated area. Blight is defined as an economic or physical condition that causes an area to suffer from negative environmental conditions, or negative impacts to the health, safety, or welfare of people in the area. Examples of blight include inadequate streets or sidewalks, lack of parking, excessive vacant or abandoned residential or commercial properties, and dilapidated properties.
A Redevelopment Agency is a legally recognized political subdivision of the State, such as a City or County. In Berkeley, the Redevelopment Agency is governed by the City Council, which acts as the Berkeley Redevelopment Agency Board. The Agency has its own source of funds, and its own spending criteria and spending limits. The responsibilities of a Redevelopment Agency frequently include re-planning, redesign, reconstruction, clearance, rehabilitation, construction of new public facilities, and provision of blight-reducing services.
Where in Berkeley are Redevelopment areas located and what Redevelopment activities are being undertaken?
Berkeley has two redevelopment areas: Savo Island and West Berkeley Project Areas. The redevelopment activity at Savo Island is complete and resulted in construction financing for affordable housing along Adeline Street. The West Berkeley Project Area is in the final planning stages and includes approximately $5,000,000 in public improvement projects, such as partial funding of the I-80 pedestrian and bicycle overcrossing; streetscape improvements consisting of new lighting, sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, bike lanes, and street trees; a new multi-modal transit plaza to accommodate bike and pedestrian links between commercial and employment areas, a train station upgrade, and accommodations for busses and parking; a new pedestrian and bicycle link to Aquatic Park; parking improvements on public streets, and public art.
How is redevelopment financed and does it affect my taxes?
Redevelopment does not affect individual property or other taxes. Pursuant to California law, redevelopment agencies obtain funding through a method called "tax increment financing." Redevelopment funds are derived from property taxes that would normally be paid to the County. Once the city council approves a redevelopment plan for a proposed project area, the area has a specific total property tax value. If the property tax value increases, most of the funds derived from the increase go to the redevelopment agency instead of the county.
Redevelopment agencies can issue bonds and pay back those bonds using the property tax it receives from the "tax increment financing". Therefore, an Agency can borrow money and pay it back the same way a homeowner would purchase a house using a mortgage and pay it back using future income. Agency bond sales allow projects to be funded and constructed earlier in the life of a redevelopment agency.
Does redevelopment affect my property value?
Redevelopment does not directly affect property values. However, since the purpose of redevelopment is to provide adequate public facilities and to eliminate blight in an area, this activity can lead to increased property values as an area is improved. The construction of new sidewalks, remodeling of buildings, and abatement of nuisance and dilapidated properties by the Agency will not affect your tax bill. The value of property near these abatement activities generally goes up when undesirable blight conditions are eliminated, because people are willing to pay higher prices when dilapidated, vacant, and abandoned buildings are no longer present and when public improvements such as parks, safe bike ways and sidewalks are available.
Who is in charge of administering Redevelopment activities?
For information about the Redevelopment Agency, please contact the Planning Department at (510) 981-7400.
The West Berkeley Redevelopment Area has a West Berkeley Project Area Committee (PAC) consisting of property and business owners in this general area. The PAC holds public meetings to discuss public improvements as well as proposals by private parties within the Project Area. It then makes recommendations to the hearing body charged with making a decision on the project. The PAC is instrumental in communicating local concerns, ideas, and project changes to the citywide authorities charged with approving projects.
The Berkeley Redevelopment Agency Board consists of the Berkeley City Council members and is the governing body for the Agency. It is responsible for making final decisions on which projects get funding, which programs the agency will sponsor, and all legal and financial operations of the Agency. The Redevelopment Agency Board sets policy, approves contracts and expenditures, and maintains overall budget authority.
When are public meetings held?
The West Berkeley Project Area Committee (PAC) holds regular meetings the fourth Thursday of each month at 7:00 PM at the West Berkeley Senior Center located at 1900 Sixth Street. Occasionally a special meeting will be held or a regular meeting will be cancelled. Information on upcoming and past PAC meetings can be found at the West Berkeley Project Area Committee and Agency Board.
The Berkeley Redevelopment Agency Board also holds public meetings to consider recommendations from the PAC and other matters involving agency financing, plans, operations, and contracts. These meetings are held prior to City Council meetings on an as-needed basis. Information on upcoming Agency Board meetings can be found on the Community Calendar. Agendas are posted prior to each meeting at the Agency's website.
How do I find out more about Redevelopment?
You can obtain a free booklet called “citizens guide to redevelopment” by contacting the Planning Department at (510) 981-7400. You can also review a copy of the redevelopment plan for the West Berkeley Project Area on the third floor of the Planning office located at 2120 Milvia Street, Berkeley, or at the main Berkeley public library.