This is a unique time in our city's history, just as it is for our nation.
In Lodi we are witnessing an unprecedented coalition of civic-minded citizens who are convinced that voting YES on Measure W on March 3 is in the best interest of our entire city. It's a wide-ranging group of business and labor leaders, educators, elected officials and members of Lodi's philanthropic organizations.
We, the undersigned past mayors of Lodi, add our names to the list.
We see the role redevelopment has played in sparking economic development and job creation in other California cities.
We see the many housing programs available through redevelopment that allow seniors to live with dignity and help working families make the leap from renters to homeowners.
We see the inviting streetscapes and parks that make communities better places to live.
We know first-hand these are among the requests Lodi residents have asked of their local government over the years. Like us, they see what other cities have accomplished and ask, "Why not here?" Why not, indeed.
There are two ways to achieve many of these goals, one more palatable than the other. One is for voters to tax themselves more. The other is for Lodi to adopt the Lodi Community Improvement Project by voting YES on Measure W.
Measure W is not a tax increase. It simply allows your local government to keep a greater percentage of the property tax you're already paying, instead of having it spent at the whim of the state Legislature. As County Auditor-Controller Adrian Van Houten wrote in his Measure W tax analysis, which is included in your voter pamphlet, "If passed, Measure W will have no impact on property tax rates on properties inside or outside the Project Area. Redevelopment Agencies do not have the power to impose new taxes either within or outside the Project Area."
Measure W isn't a vote to borrow money, although that's what Measure W opponents would have you believe.
Measure W is an economic tool that's been available to California cities for more than half a century. In fact, the system that allows cities to keep more property tax to pay for redevelopment projects was approved by two-thirds of California voters in a 1952 proposition.
Measure W is about greater local control over our dollars. It puts in place a program that has been endorsed by the Lodi Improvement Committee, the Lodi Chamber of Commerce, the Lodi Conference and Visitors Bureau and the Lodi Unified School District.
Most important, it's a new source of money that can be reinvested in the Project Area, which is most of Lodi east of Sacramento Street. A 2008 study of the Project Area found:
- About 22 percent of homes are in some degree of disrepair;
- About 45 percent of commercial properties are obsolete, lack sufficient parking and have a dilapidated appearance;
- Building age is 27 years older compared to the rest of the city (1948 to 1975);
- Nearly a third of buildings were owned by absentee owners, compared to 17 percent in the rest of the city;
- Although only 25 percent of Lodi's population lives there, it's where 54 percent of the city's crimes occur.
These all result in the city spending a disproportionate amount of our tax dollars addressing conditions in the Project Area. Van Houten notes that property values in the redevelopment area haven't kept up with the rest of the city, and Measure W opponents have protested (yes, protested!) that redevelopment raises property values. Therefore, they acknowledge redevelopment will increase the amount of money available for the betterment of east Lodi neighborhoods.
As Lodi's past mayors, we have always tried our best to serve all citizens of our great community. We know the City Council did the same last year when it adopted the Lodi Community Improvement Project, and we support those who felt redevelopment's fate was worth a citywide vote.
Please join us on March 3 by voting YES on Measure W.