Lorena Gonzalez introduced a bill that would make businesses pay workers more on holidays. Courtesy photo

A bill designed to strengthen oversight of organizations that make land use decisions for cities, like Civic San Diego, was passed Wednesday  by the Assembly Local Government Committee.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and area business leaders said they would lobby against AB 504, authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego.

The legislator said her bill would create more oversight by local governments that rely on the planning, zoning or permitting expertise of nonprofit organizations or private individuals.

“Serious questions remain about a city’s legal ability to outsource these sorts of powers outside of government,” Gonzalez said. “AB 504 is our opportunity to make sure the rules are clear and avert more serious legal challenges that could undermine community development and ultimately waste taxpayer money.”

Civic San Diego was created three years ago to handle design and permitting for major projects in downtown, City Heights and Southeast San Diego after the state abolished redevelopment.

Faulconer and other Civic San Diego supporters said the bill, if passed, would thwart the ability of the agency to revitalize urban neighborhoods.

“Civic San Diego has long served as catalyst for positive change in San Diego, helping to create jobs and build affordable housing,” Faulconer told reporters. “Communities like Encanto need Civic San Diego to help them succeed, and we can’t let Sacramento stop our progress with one unnecessary bill.”

According to the mayor’s office, Civic San Diego attracted billions of dollars in investment, created tens of thousands of jobs and helped build more than 6,000 units of affordable housing for San Diego. The mayor’s office says Gonzalez’s bill would would add unnecessary hurdles to the planning process and add layers of bureaucracy to communities in dire need of revitalization and development.

The organization is accountable to the city through nomination and appointments of board members by the mayor and city council, and its operating contract is managed by the city’s Economic Development Department, according to the mayor’s office.

Gonzalez said she recently obtained an opinion from the Legislature’s legal counsel that said the city was unconstitutionally giving away its police powers by allowing outside agencies to make land use decisions.

Faulconer’s office pointed out, however, that the opinion said a city could delegate such powers as long as there is appropriate oversight.

The bill should go before the full Assembly within one month.

City News Service

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