By Steve Dreyer
In light of the governor’s announced intention to abolish local redevelopment agencies, the Poway City Council voted 4-0 Tuesday night to form a city housing authority as a way to maintain control of its affordable housing programs.
The first step, taken Tuesday, called for the adoption of an ordinance declaring a need for an authority to function in the city.
Whether the agency develops beyond that point will depend on the fate of Gov. Jerry Brown’s plans, City Manager Penny Riley said.
A report prepared for the meeting noted that Poway has invested about $37 million in nine affordable housing developments in the city. The Poway Redevelopment Agency owns the land under most of these developments, plus about a half-dozen vacant parcels, Riley said. Long waiting lists for affordable housing in Poway demonstrates a need for the program, she said, and the city is obligated to provided its “fair share” of low- and moderate-income housing in the region.
If Brown succeeds in scrapping local redevelopment agencies (RDAs) as state budget saving measures, it appears Poway would likely be forced to turn over its completed affordable housing, along with its undeveloped lots and about $6 million in unallocated housing money, to the San Diego County Housing Authority, Riley said. That could mean Poway would lose oversight control of leases it holds with the organizations that operate the developments. The leases require the operators to provide a high level of management and maintenance of the units.
The transfer of those housing assets to the county could be prevented if the city had its own housing authority, Riley said.
“As the governor’s budget proposal has not yet been adopted, staff recommends that the City Council form the PHA (Poway Housing Authority) as a precaution to protect Poway’s housing assets should the agency be eliminated,” Riley wrote in the staff report.
Councilmembers can appoint themselves as housing authority commissioners, with Mayor Don Higginson being named as interim chairman. No additional compensations would be involved, Riley said.
Staff could return at a later time with specifics as to how the PHA would operate, including roles and responsibilities of staff and the frequency and location of meetings.
“It is likely that the PHA would only be convened if the governor’s proposal was adopted,” according to Riley.
The 4-0 vote followed a minimum of discussion by the council. Councilwoman Merrilee Boyack was absent.