Grants and Redevelopment Department
The Grants and Redevelopment Department
overseas programs and projects for the City. This Department is also
responsible for City loan programs, housing
projects and programs, business
assistance, the Sonora Opera Hall
and special events. Department
projects and programs are constantly changing based on funding
The Redevelopment Agency of the City of
Sonora exists to improve blighted areas in the City, encourage economic
development and encourage housing for low and moderate income
households. The Agency has become one the key sources of public
enterprise that has helped to a healthy and vibrant Sonora. Since its
inception, the Redevelopment Agency has undertaken numerous
programs and projects to improve
public infrastructure, provide affordable housing, improve parking
facilities and improve/develop public parks/trails. The Agency is a
separate public body, as with most cities, the
City Council Members also
serve as the governing Board for the Redevelopment Agency. For a more
comprehensive insight into Redevelopment in California and more specific
information regarding the Sonora Redevelopment Agency please see
As required under
Section 33418 of the California State Health and Safety Code the Sonora
Redevelopment Agency has developed a database of the housing units
assisted with moneys from the Agency’s Low and Moderate Income Housing
Fund. This copy of the database is available to the public by
contacting (209) 532-3508.
In 1952, California
voters approved Article XIII, Section 19 (later renamed Article XVI,
Section 16) of the California Constitution, allowing redevelopment
agencies in the State to use tax increment financing to revitalize project
areas. California Community Redevelopment Law, contained in the
California Health and Safety Code (Section 33000 et seq.), governs the
creation and activities of redevelopment agencies. Redevelopment is
created, adopted and carried out locally. Approximately 400 Redevelopment
Agencies exists in California.
The mission of
redevelopment is to improve properties that have become abandoned,
neglected or unsafe. Redevelopment enhances and expands local businesses,
renovates declining housing stock and improves public infrastructure.
Communities with limited financial resources, in partnership with private
entities, can use funds from redevelopment projects to rehabilitate
property, build better homes, create jobs, stimulate private business and
development, and create investment to accomplish what could not be done by
other public or private means without the assistance of redevelopment.
redevelopment process involves a series of mandated steps:
STEP 1 - Governing body
establishes a redevelopment agency
Community Redevelopment Law provides that any county or city can establish
a redevelopment agency by the action of their governing body. The
governing body of the community must determine that there is a need for
the redevelopment agency to exist. The following is examined to
determine the need and the feasibility of creating an agency within a
Identifying existing deficiencies and problems in the area
Determining the economic constraints and opportunities
Defining potential redevelopment projects and programs
Clarifying the legalities associated with implementation of the
redevelopment program in the community
Identifying blight characteristics in the area
Defining the project area
The local governing
board and the redevelopment agency are two separate, distinct legal
entities. In all but a few agencies in California, the local governing
body also serves as the redevelopment agency board. Redevelopment
agencies have the authority to:
Receive and spend taxes
Improve public infrastructure and facilities
Prepare sites for improvement
or lease property
Assist private development
Regulate land use
Preserve, upgrade and produce housing
A Redevelopment Agency was established for the
City of Sonora on May 1, 1985.
- Local governing body adopts a survey area
The survey area
includes the properties to be evaluated in the determination of the
existence of blight and the feasibility of being redeveloped. From this a
“project area” is selected.
A survey area was designated at the time the Sonora Redevelopment
Agency was established however, a Redevelopment Plan was not completed.
September 16, 1991,
the earlier survey area was repealed and a new survey was adopted.
STEP 3 - The planning
commission selects a redevelopment “project area” from the survey area
To qualify for
redevelopment, an area must show signs of wear and tear, or “blight” as
defined by California Law. Deteriorating or blighted areas have serious
adverse social, economic and physical conditions which constitute a danger
to the health, safety and general welfare of the people of the community.
The definition of a “blighted area” is an area that exhibits substantial
and prevalent adverse physical and economic conditions requiring
redevelopment assistance. When an area is described as having blight, it
does not refer to all of the properties in that area; it only means that
the area suffers from conditions that are too difficult to overcome
Redevelopment Law uses the term “blight” to describe the following
Adverse Physical Conditions –
Unsafe or unhealthy buildings
Aging, deteriorating and poorly-maintained buildings
Factors hindering economic viability of property
Adjacent or nearby incompatible land use
Irregular lots in multiple ownership
Improvements needed to community facilities, water & sewer, roads and
other public infrastructure
Adverse Economic Conditions –
Depreciated or stagnant property values
Vacant and underutilized land or buildings
business vacancies, low commercial leases and high turnover rates
Impaired property values due to hazardous waste or negative environmental
Serious lack of commercial facilities
Deteriorating, unsafe and substandard housing conditions, serious
Problem businesses and high crime rates
acre “Project Area” was selected on November 12, 1991.
blighting conditions sited in the Preliminary Report for the “Project
Area” under the Sonora Redevelopment Agency: “In general, the Project
Area is characterized by interspersed structural deterioration, an
incompatible mix of adjoining land uses, deficiencies in the local public
infrastructure system, irregular parcelization patterns, lack of
recreation facilities, and socioeconomic maladjustment.”
- The planning commission adopts a preliminary plan that outlines the
basic goals and objectives of the proposed redevelopment project and the
The preliminary plan
contemplates the redevelopment of a portion of the survey area. It is
required as the basis for the subsequent preparation of a more definitive
plan for redevelopment of the designated “project area”.
Information about the agency and redevelopment in general
Project Area boundaries
Project Area characteristics
Overall objectives and project activities of the proposed redevelopment
Relationship of project to general plan
General impact of the project
Preliminary Plan for the Sonora Redevelopment Project was approved by the
Planning Commission on November 12, 1991 and accepted by the Sonora
Redevelopment Agency on November 13, 1991.
- The preliminary plan is accepted by the agency board and circulated to
all affected taxing entities.
to and participation by all property owners within the Project Area occurs
after the plan is prepared. During this period the agency board,
legislative body and planning commission meet to discuss the plan and
receive community input. This concludes with a public hearing on the
redevelopment plan. At least 30 days prior to this hearing all parties
involved receive information and an invitation to attend and participate
in the public hearing along with other noticing requirements.
- After the preliminary plan is adopted, the agency begins the preparation
of required technical documents, including the Preliminary Report, and
The Preliminary Report is
required under Community Redevelopment Law. The Preliminary Report
reasons for the selection of the Project Area.
description of the physical, social and economic conditions existing in
the Project Area.
preliminary assessment of the proposed method of financing the
redevelopment of the Project Area, including an assessment of the economic
feasibility of the project and the reasons for including a provision for a
division of taxes.
description of the specific project or projects then proposed by the
agency in the Project Area in sufficient detail to permit the fiscal
review committee to review the potential impacts of the proposed project.
description of how the project or projects to be pursued by the agency in
the Project Area will improve or alleviate the blighting conditions with
the Project Area.
The Preliminary Report
for the Sonora Redevelopment Agency was completed in March 1992.
- The agency also develops a draft redevelopment plan
A redevelopment plan
provides a legal framework for planning and implementing revitalization
activities in a redevelopment project area.
A redevelopment plan:
Describes the purposes and objectives of eliminating deteriorated
Sets the basic goals, powers and limitations within which the
redevelopment agency must conduct its activities over the life of the
broad and flexible
plan is unique to its community and the plan must conform to the
community’s General Plan. It must be broad and flexible, as it stays
in place for many years and generally includes the following components:
Project area boundaries
map showing designated land uses
Redevelopment goals and objectives for the project area
Specific improvements the agency plans to accomplish
and moderate income housing provisions
Duties and powers of the agency
Rights of the property owners and tenants
Financial and legal tools for putting the plan into action
In formulating the
redevelopment plan, limitations are established for various aspects of the
redevelopment program, these include:
maximum portion of taxes divided & allocated to the Agency
not exceed a cumulative total of $95 million for the Sonora Redevelopment
length of time the redevelopment project area and plan will be in
Redevelopment Plan for the Sonora Redevelopment Agency is currently
scheduled to terminate on July 20, 2032 (40 years from the date of the
adoption of the Redevelopment Plan) The Agency will not pay indebtedness
or receive property taxes after 10 years from the termination of the
effectiveness of the Redevelopment Plan, after July 20, 2042.
time in which eminent domain may occur
Under that Agency’s Redevelopment Plan Eminent Domain had to occur within
12 years from the date the Ordinance adopting the Plan became effective.
The Agency no longer has the power of eminent domain.
time limit on the establishment of loans, advances and indebtedness to
finance the project
the Redevelopment Plan for the Sonora Redevelopment Agency it was
originally set at 30 years from the date of the adoption of the Plan,
however, when AB 1290 went into effect on January 1, 1994 this was reduced
to 20 years from the date of the adoption of the Plan. Currently, the
Agency can not incur debt after July 20, 2012.
limitation on the amount of bonded indebtedness which can be outstanding
at any one time
Agency’s total outstanding principal of any bonds so issued and payable
from tax increments shall not exceed $32 million at any one time except by
amendment of this Plan.
limitation on the amount of vacant land that can be included within a
At the time that the Project Area survey was conducted in 1991,
81.9 percent was developed for urban use and 18.1 percent was vacant,
meeting the requirement of “predominantly urbanized”.
-The agency then circulates the preliminary report, draft redevelopment
plan and draft environmental impact report
- The agency consults with affected taxing entities and the community
redevelopment project area is adopted, the current assessed values within
the project area only are designated as the “base year” or “base assessed
value”. After the plan adoption, all the taxes paid on this “base year”
assessment go, as they always have, to the other taxing agencies, ie
county, schools, etc.. Any increase in assessed value above this base
year value within a project area and the taxes resulting from this
increased assessed valuation per the standard tax rate becomes the main
source of revenue for the agency.
When a new
redevelopment area is formed, the county government determines the total
assessed value of all properties within the project area. This amount is
called the “base assessed value” as property values increase above this
“base value” the growth is known as “tax increment”. A portion of this
tax increment is then transferred to the redevelopment agency. Using tax
increment, Redevelopment Agencies invest in local improvements within the
project area. An agency cannot receive or spend tax increment funds until
it has adopted a redevelopment plan and established debt. During the life
of the redevelopment project, public taxing entities continue to receive
the same amount of tax revenues that they received when the agency was
formed, and a portion of the tax increment. Their portion of the tax
increment is referred to as a “pass-through”.
The agency can only
receive annual tax increment if it can show that it has created a debt
which is an obligation of the agency. Debt can be created by the sale of
bonds, the receipt of loans or advances of funds, the financial obligation
to pay the cost of a project, or other obligations of the law. Debt which
has not been paid for by the agency is considered outstanding indebtedness
and is an obligation of the agency and not any other entity.
Sonora Redevelopment Agency negotiated Pass-Through Agreements with,
Tuolumne County, Superintendent of Schools, Yosemite College District,
Sonora High School and Sonora Elementary School
- The local governing body and agency calls for a public hearing on the
proposed redevelopment plan
Public Hearing for the
Redevelopment Agency’s Redevelopment Plan was held on July 13, 1992.
- The environmental documentation is completed and approved
13, 1992 the Final EIR was certified for the Sonora Redevelopment Agency’s
- The redevelopment plan is adopted
Ordinance No. 678, effective August 19, 1992, approved and adopted the
Redevelopment Plan for the Sonora Redevelopment Project Area.
The goal of the adopted Sonora Redevelopment Plan is to eliminate or
mitigate conditions of blight by providing needed public improvements; by
encouraging rehabilitation and repair of deteriorated structures; by
facilitating land assembly and development which will result in housing
opportunities, employment opportunities and an expanded tax base; and by
promoting development in accordance with the City of Sonora General Plan.
In pursuing attainment of this goal, the objectives established for the
Sonora Redevelopment Project include:
Expansion and diversification of the community's economic and employment
base, through the facilitation of more year-round employment
opportunities, including industrial development and expansion.
Strengthening of the general retail and service commercial sectors of
the local economy, through diversification and enhancement of
population-generated and income-generated demand.
Increasing tourism through enhancement of the historic
character of the community while providing expanded and improved visitor
Enhancement of the aesthetic qualities and structural safety of the
central business district to support its competitive performance.
Recapture of general retail sales leakage from
to other, larger trade centers.
Increasing the capture of potential commercial trade originating from
through traffic on State Routes 49 and 108.
Expansion and improvement in the quality of the community's low and
moderate income housing stock through rehabilitation and replacement
programs and new construction.
Improvements to infrastructure supporting the Project Area,
particularly streets, storm drainage, curb,
gutter and sidewalk to remove existing impediments to the economic
development of the community.
Improvement of parking conditions in the central area of the community
through creation of additional parking spaces.
Enhancement of community facilities and recreational opportunities
available to residents of the Project Area and supportive of the local
Elimination or mitigation of other existing blighting conditions and
influences, including incompatible land uses, obsolete or substandard
structures, inadequate public facilities, and/or small, irregular and
Provision of opportunities for participation by owners and tenants in the
revitalization of their properties.
Establishment and implementation of performance criteria to assure high
quality site design standards, environmental compatibility, and design
elements which provide unity and integrity to development projects.
The Redevelopment Plan also includes the following
improvement projects to address blight in the Project Area (not listed in
Construction of a wide variety of traffic circulation system improvements,
including street construction, street widening, street signage and traffic
signal installation, to facilitate and improve access to properties
located in the Project Area, enabling and enhancing their development.
Street and other Project Area curb and sidewalk replacement, including
handicap access improvements.
sewer and storm drain system improvements.
Opera Hall Funding to help
Complete Project Improvements
public facilities, including but not limited to:
Construction of Parking
Park and Recreation Facilities
Downtown Bicycle Racks and Public
General Beautification Projects
Elimination or mitigation of other existing blighting conditions and
influences, including incompatible land uses, obsolete or substandard
structures, inadequate public facilities, and/or small, irregular
Increase, improvement or preservation of the City's supply of low and
moderate income housing, within the Project Area or elsewhere in the
Replacement, in the Project Area or elsewhere in the community, of any low
and moderate income housing units destroyed or removed from the Project
projects which are of joint benefit to the Agency and the County of
- The Five Year Implementation Plan is adopted
AB 1290 went into
effect January 1, 1994. It established the requirement that all
redevelopment agencies must approve Five Year Implementation Plans. The
purpose of this requirement is to provide a monitoring device to ensure
that redevelopment activities are linked to the elimination of blight. At
least once during the five year term of the Plan, between two to three
years after adoption, an agency must hold a public hearing to review the
redevelopment plan and its corresponding implementation plan in order to
evaluate the progress of the redevelopment project.
As set forth in
Section 33490, an implementation plan must contain the following:
goals and objectives of the Agency for the project area.
programs, including potential projects and estimated expenditures planned
for the next five years.
explanation of how the goals, objectives, projects and estimated
expenditures will eliminate blight.
explanation of how the goals, objectives, projects and estimated
expenditures will implement the low and moderate income housing set-aside
and housing production requirements set forth in Sections 33334.2,
33334.4, 33334.6 and 33413 of the Health and Safety Code. This
explanation must contain a Housing Production Program for each of the five
years of the Implementation Plan in enough detail to measure performance.
The number of
housing units to be rehabilitated, price-restricted, assisted or
using annual deposits to the Housing Set-Aside Fund.
If a planned
project will result in destruction of existing affordable housing, an
identification of proposed locations for the replacement housing, the
agency will be required to produce pursuant to Section 33413 of the Health
and Safety Code, must be included.
area affordable Housing Production plan (AB 315 plan) required by Section
33413(b)(4) of the Health and Safety Code.
Production Plan pertains to the Housing Set-Aside Funds. California law
requires that 20 percent of the total tax increment collected in a project
area be set aside in the Housing Fund, referred to as the “Housing
Set-Aside”. These funds can be used to:
property at a low cost to developers who then build affordable housing
Reduce the cost of rental and privately-owned housing
Prevent the loss of government-sponsored housing that is currently
Meet replacement housing requirements
Improve sites, roads and public utilities so that new affordable housing
can be built
However, the use of
the Housing Set-Aside funds is very restrictive and regulated by State
law. Use of Housing Set-Aside funds carries, in most cases, very
restrictive affordability covenants. For rental units assisted by the
agency they must remain affordable for at least 55 years and for
owner-occupied units they must remain affordable for at least 45 years.
Sonora Redevelopment Agency is operating under its fourth Five Year
Implementation Plan covering the planning period of 2010-2014
– Additional Requirements
Agencies are also
required to prepare an annual report to the State Controller and
Department of Housing and Community Development. This includes an
independent audit by a certified public accountant to assure that the
funds are used according to the plan.
activities and actions of the agency require consideration and approval by
the agency board in a public meeting or public hearing with notice duly
given. Additionally, activities of the agency are first approved at a
public meeting during the adoption of the annual budget.
Sonora Redevelopment Agency’s focus is to eliminate constraints to private
investment to ensure continued growth of industrial, commercial, retail
and residential development. Agency Staff will, from year to year, make
recommendations to the Agency Board regarding specific projects or public
improvements to achieve its goal of eliminating or mitigating blighting
Projects are selected on the following basis:
Projects that directly and immediately leverage new commercial
and industrial development leading to the increase in local employment.
Housing projects which leverage additional private investment and
which leverage additional public funds for housing programs.
Projects which are targeted to specific existing conditions of
blight or to blighting influences in the Project Area.
Projects, housing and non-housing, that provide future program
income and generate Agency capacity to fund additional projects in the
Public improvement projects that directly result in new private
Housing programs to meet the following needs:
Replacement and Preservation Housing Needs
Neighborhood Residential Improvements
Projects which have a financial payback, including loan
repayments and tax increments, shall be paid back as soon as practicable.
Payback shall be determined by the nature of the project and the
PROJECTS/PROGRAMS COMPLETED BY THE
SONORA REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY
City of Sonora
Community Development Director
94 N. Washington Street
Sonora, CA 95370
Phone: (209) 532-3508
Fax: (209) 532-3511