After the defeat of redevelopment in the March 2009 election, Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce presented a different plan Friday that focuses on public infrastructure projects.
Mounce said she listened to both sides of the debate and is looking for a compromise. She discussed the basics of her redevelopment plan with the Chamber of Commerce governmental relations committee meeting.
The plan requires a specific list of the projects that will be paid for with redevelopment, like sidewalks, sewer and water lines, and alley reconstruction.
The plan could still support economic development, Mounce said, although she is not in favor of direct payments to developers.
By improving the infrastructure, it will mean more businesses will want to locate to the Eastside, she said.
"If you fix it up and make it nice, people will come," she said.
Also, as the infrastructure is upgraded, there is a potential that the city could decrease developer impact fees because the infrastructure is already in place, she said.
Mainly, Mounce said the property owners in the area should be guiding the process because some of their property tax dollars will go to fund it.
"This is for the people who own their houses over there and wanted, prayed and asked for the Eastside to be repaired since I've been alive," she said.
She asked City Manager Blair King to be at the meeting to talk about a this type of a redevelopment agency. He said he has seen a public infrastructure redevelopment project work in other cities, but said it will be up to Lodi to decide whether it is a right fit.
A redevelopment agency targets certain parts of the city and then receives a greater portion of that area's tax revenue. It works by freezing the property tax base during the year it is put in place. Any additional tax revenue beyond that is known as the increment, which is funneled into the redevelopment agency.
That tax revenue must then be used by the city to make improvements in the redevelopment area.
The council passed an agency focused on the Eastside, but opponents of the project sent it to a vote last March. Residents voted on the plan, which was called Measure W, in a special election the council scheduled.
The measure failed after receiving only 46 percent of the vote.
Having redevelopment fail was a no-win situation because the city still has nothing to help fix the Eastside, Mounce said.
She is confident that if the council passes a plan focused on public infrastructure, it would not go to a vote because the people who opposed redevelopment previously will not oppose this specific plan.
"You aren't going to have people going door-to-door with nice, glossy fliers," she said.
Mounce said as part of the redevelopment discussion, she would also like to see the city change its redevelopment ordinance to only allow eminent domain if the property is going to a non-profit for affordable housing.
Some chamber members questioned whether the redevelopment area would generate enough interest if an economic development strategy is not one of the main focuses.
King said that if the area remains as large as the last plan, there will be tax revenue generated from normal businesses and residents coming and going.
Even though it might take longer to accumulate money under her plan, Mounce said citizens have already rejected giving "public dollars to businesses."
In the backdrop of the redevelopment discussion is a court battle over the state taking redevelopment funds.
On Tuesday, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Lloyd Connelly ruled that the state can take more than $2 billion in local redevelopment agencies and use the money for school operations.
The California Redevelopment Association is the lead plaintiff in the case and said it will appeal.
If the court decision remains, it will be the state once again taking away control of local tax dollars, King said.
"Why have the City Council go through the exercise of how the city will spend the money if the state can just take it?" King said.
He believes the decision will be overturned on appeal because the state cannot take money that was never California's to begin with.
"Ramification of this decision standing is they might as well tear up the constitution and throw it away," King said.
The next step is the city will be sending out postcards to Eastside residents asking them what they want to see.
The council will discuss the future of redevelopment in Lodi on June 9. Mounce said she hopes the council will be able to come to a compromise instead of having another divisive battle.
"I don't want to go through that again, you don't want to go through that again, and most importantly, the people don't want to go through that again. They do not want the division in the community," she said.