Proposed Jobs and Education Development Initiative Act could bring new redevelopment money to Santa Clarita.
Ask anyone who has lived in the Santa Clarita Valley at least since the 1990’s about Old Town Newhall, and they’ll most likely tell you stories of how they would use San
Fernando Road (now Main Street) to get to the 14 freeway, barely stopping to glimpse at what was once the population center of Santa Clarita.
Until 2011, the City of Santa Clarita had been able to take advantage of redevelopment funding from the State of California, which helped to revitalize Old Town Newhall from a street full of deferred maintenance structures and run down warehouses, to what it’s become today; a vibrant area alive with theaters, restaurants and retail shops anchored by Santa Clarita’s newest state-of-the-art library. During that time, commercial property values increased, along with much needed tax dollars to the community. The entire downtown Newhall area received a facelift, and it became a fun place to be.
The end of redevelopment funding and a questionable future for Old Town Newhall.
The above statement really should end with a question mark. Since state legislators defunded redevelopment in 2011, the City of Santa Clarita has relied on its own resources to complete projects that were once covered by the incremental funding program. The library was completed, as well as the traffic roundabout at the intersection of Main Street and Newhall Ave.
What’s been rather noticeable however, is that while Old Town Newhall was near maximum capacity business-wise a few years ago, we’re beginning to see a decline the number of businesses, especially retail shops, moving to the area. Some retail establishments have closed without being replaced with new business. This doesn’t mean the population of Santa Clarita has given up on OTN, as there are many other businesses, especially restaurants and theaters, that continue to thrive. But without redevelopment money to continue the efforts begun over 20 years ago to enhance and revitalize Main Street, some Santa Clarita residents fear a return to the blighted past.
What is JEDI, and how can it help Santa Clarita?
JEDI stands for “Jobs and Education Development Initiative”, which is an act proposed to the California Legislature to once again bring incremental redevelopment funding to cities and communities. Proposed by Phillip D. Kohn, an Orange County attorney, the JEDI provides a realigned approach to redevelopment in California. The argument for the act is that redevelopment funding creates jobs, along with higher property values and tax revenues.
JEDI also proposes a new level of accountability for cities and communities wishing to participate in redevelopment funding, something the previous redevelopment legislature lacked.
The proposal was submitted to the State Attorney’s office on January 22nd. Petitions will begin to be circulated and the JEDI Act will require at least 505,000 signatures to make it onto the ballot in June.