Burbank took a huge hit this week when state officials in charge of winding down local redevelopment stripped the city of roughly $30.5 million that had previously been earmarked for affordable housing projects.
It was the latest ax to fall after the state Legislature last year approved Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to dissolve local redevelopment agencies statewide and redirect the property tax revenues to Sacramento to help close a multibillion-dollar state budget deficit.
City officials had been saving the funds to finance two large-scale affordable housing projects — one in the Verdugo-Lake neighborhood and another on South San Fernando Boulevard.
Now, those once-attainable projects have become pipe dreams for a city that can no longer use redevelopment agency powers and revenues to fund them.
Burbank, essentially, is back to square one. But not all is hopeless.
For starters, the city is about to get an influx of sales tax revenue associated with a number of large-scale, high-profile development proposals. Odds are that the planned Walmart and mega-IKEA will eventually get built, as will a new Hilton hotel. All of them will generate significant tax revenue for a city that already has a healthy retail base.
Just because Burbank has lost its redevelopment crutch shouldn't mean city leaders abandon grand — and much-needed — plans to address the shortage of affordable housing options for its most vulnerable residents. If the coming tide of sales and hotel tax revenue is above and beyond what's been included in a budget that currently has the city working just fine, there should be a real conversation at City Hall in the future about earmarking some of those new revenues for expanding affordable housing.