VISTA — City Council enthusiastically voted 3-0 on Sept. 23 to pass an amendment to the city’s redevelopment plan, which would induct much of Vista’s residential neighborhoods into the existing redevelopment zone. Councilmen Robert Campbell and Frank Lopez recused themselves because they own property in the affected area.
Redevelopment allows the city to retain the bulk of the taxes from increased property values on improved properties with the redevelopment zones. The city is then tasked to spend these funds on improvements in these areas. By adding residential areas to the redevelopment zone, funds raised there could be spent on improving infrastructure including roads, sidewalks and lights, improvements that might otherwise be a long time coming.
The amendment also gives the city the power of eminent domain in the new areas, an issue that has made some residents uneasy despite city promises not to use the power on residential properties. Over time, resistance has died down and the crowd that assembled for the Tuesday meeting greeted the decision with applause.
“Because of misinformation, there’s been a real scare about eminent domain,” Councilman Steve Gronke said. He went on to thank the night’s speakers for their nearly unanimous support of the proposal. “People understand that this does not imply that we’re going to take their homes in the process of trying to improve our neighborhoods.”
Councilwoman Judy Ritter expressed similar enthusiasm. “I’m so excited to hear … most of you say you approve of it and I’m looking forward to the future of our city,” Ritter said.