WATSONVILLE -- A year after the state pulled the plug on redevelopment agencies to put $1.7 billion back into its own budget, Watsonville struggles to cope with the loss.
Tuesday, city leaders delivered that message to state and federal representatives, asking for their help.
The occasion was the City Council's annual legislative breakfast, attended by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, and representatives from the offices of state Sen. Bill Monning, D- Monterey, and U.S. Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel.
Disadvantaged communities like Watsonville have been hit particularly hard, city leaders said.
"We have 22 percent annual unemployment," said City Manager Carlos Palacios. "Now that it's winter, that's going to go to 29 percent again."
The city has identified places for potential growth, but without redevelopment money, doesn't have the wherewithal to provide the assistance necessary for development, Palacios said.
Commercial interests, including a hotel chain, have eyed the 7-acre site of a former aluminum factory on Lee Road, for example, he said. But hazardous waste needs to be cleaned up before any development can occur, and no project has emerged that can cover the costs.
Alejo said legislators pledged to find other ways to spur economic growth when redevelopment agencies were shuttered. But the governor, focused on the campaign for his tax measure, Proposition 30, rejected four bills passed by the Legislature.
Alejo said he continues to support the legislation and expects the bills to be part of a larger conversation in Sacramento during the next year aimed at supporting communities working to provide jobs.
"Local people need tools to make that happen," Alejo said.
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