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SF Mayor Takes On Governor over Redevelopment Money

Ed Lee: "Gov. Brown, we do it right in San Francisco"

Updated May 5, 2011 at 5:34 p.m.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee used the groundbreaking of a new Target store inside the Metreon Thursday to hammer Gov. Jerry Brown over his proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies.

"Gov. Brown, we do it right in San Francisco," Lee declared, noting that the city's first Target store, which is set to open at 4th and Mission streets in October 2012, will be built on land owned by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency.

The 85,000 square foot store, Lee said, "brings hope to the city."

"Investors wouldn't do this if they didn't think the city wasn't a good partner," Lee said.

In January, Brown proposed eliminating all 425 of the state's redevelopment agencies as a way to help bridge a $26 billion budget deficit. (The legislature has since made $11.2 billion in cuts, mostly to social programs, but a $15 billion shortfall remains).

The state finance department has said getting rid of those agencies could save the state $1.7 billion.

"The governor believes that now is not the time to be doling out billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded subsidies to private developers, while the core services of our communities are being bulldozed," Brown's spokesman Evan Westrup said in an interview.

"In these times while teachers are receiving pink slips and police departments are being cut, it is hard to justify funneling millions of dollars away from those services to incentivize a big box store," Westrup added.

Target already operates 46 stores in the Bay Area, spokeswoman Donna Egan said, and the overwhelming majority of them are not in redevelopment zones. 

And the Minnesota-based retailer is currently planning a second San Francisco location outside the city's official redevelopment area, at the corner of Geary and Masonic.

But the redevelopment agency was nonetheless important to the Target at the Metreon, said it's director Fred Blackwell, because it allowed for the new store to be built as part of a coherent planning process.

The Metreon complex is part of the greater Yerba Buena redevelopment area, he noted, which includes SFMOMA, the Moscone Convention Center, and the Yerba Buena Gardens public park.

"Where would the money come from to build all that?" Blackwell said, gesturing out the window to the fountain at the center of Yerba Buena Gardens.

"You won't see a better fountain anywhere else," he said.

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