The future of high-profile development projects north of Sonoma and in Roseland could be in jeopardy depending on what seven members of a county oversight board decide today.
The projects would transform a former shopping center in Roseland into a commercial and residential complex with a community plaza and bring upgrades to Highway 12, including sidewalks, lighting and parking improvements in the stretch north of Sonoma the agency calls "The Springs."
Both projects, as well as several smaller ones, will be on the agenda during today's meeting in Santa Rosa of an independent oversight committee that was formed after the demise of redevelopment agencies.
"It's shaking the tree and figuring out which projects are a priority, and leaving out the ones that aren't," said Supervisor Valerie Brown, who is chairwoman of the the committee.
She said she will push to make The Springs and Roseland projects the group's highest priorities.
"The Roseland area is one that's been planned for so long. It makes so much sense to renovate and clear blight in that area," she said.
"And Highway 12 makes sense because we already finished phase one, and you can see the difference," she added.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors dissolved its redevelopment agency on Jan. 31 to meet a state-ordered shutdown of redevelopment agencies.
The oversight committee formed in the wake of that move is charged with winding down redevelopment. The group's members include city and county officials, school representatives and a member of the public.
The board's action in January transferred $18 million of the county redevelopment agency's cash to the county. Some portion of that money is to be used to pay ongoing obligations and work authorized in third-party contracts before August 2011, when the state Supreme Court halted further redevelopment activity.
County officials pegged that amount at $18.3 million, though more than half of that consists of non-contracted Roseland and Highway 12 money. The funds likely would be subject to redistribution to other taxing agencies, including schools and special districts, under the most straightforward interpretation of state legislation, county officials acknowledged.
"It's not a question of having enough money to do these projects," said John Haig, the county's redevelopment manager. "It's whether they are enforceable obligations, and whether the oversight board wants to approve continuation of these projects."
He said the state Department of Finance could overrule any actions taken by the local committee, in which case litigation is a strong possibility.
The county had hoped to start construction on the Highway 12 upgrades by July. Haig estimated the earliest that work could begin now would be sometime in the fall.
Today's meeting, from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Sonoma County Development Commission, 1440 Guerneville Road, is open to the public, and the committee will take public comment.
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