The fight to save California’s redevelopment agencies (RDAs) is heating up.

More than 900 mayors and city council members recently signed a letter urging state officials to preserve the agencies, which are targeted for elimination under Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal.

Affordable housing developers from across the state have also taken up the battle. They’ve been contacting their legislators and recently took part in a Feb. 15 rally in Sacramento in support of the RDAs.

Developers are being urged to contact their state representatives as soon as possible because the Budget Conference Committee is expected to make a decision by Friday.

The mayors’ letter states that terminating the agencies would “destroy billions of dollars in local economic activity and hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

It also says eliminating the approximately 400 redevelopment agencies will kill meaningful programs to provide affordable housing. The mayors point out that redevelopment is the second-largest funder of affordable homes after the federal government. More than 98,000 units of affordable housing have been constructed or rehabilitated through redevelopment since 1993.

Twenty percent of redevelopment funds go to meet local housing needs.  This amounts to more than $1 billion ($1.14 billion in 2008-09) in annual funding for affordable homes, the largest state or local funding source for this purpose. 

In late January, state Controller John Chiang announced that his auditors would begin combing the books of 18 redevelopment agencies to determine how they are spending their money and the extent they are complying with the laws that govern their activities.