4.2 minute read
March 01, 2023
Victorville is poised to make history as the first city in California to implement a Community Revitalization and Investment Authority (CRIA).
Established in 2015 with the passing of AB 2, CRIAs help cities fund the revitalization of distressed areas without tax increases. They instead rely on a sustainable cycle that draws on taxes from rising property values within the designated revitalization zone.
Cities can use this property tax increment revenue to fund activities such as:
- Infrastructure improvements
- Low- and moderate-income housing development
- Real property acquisition
- Loans or grants to owners and tenants to rehabilitate buildings
- Business assistance
CRIAs can also issue bonds as well as borrow or receive grants from the state and federal government.
New Life for Old Town
Set amidst California’s “High Desert” region in southwestern San Bernardino County, Victorville has grown significantly in recent years. Its population, now over 127,000, roughly doubled between 2000 and 2020.
That said, not all areas in and around Victorville have prospered. The Old Town neighborhood—a focus of the City’s CRIA—is considered a disadvantaged community. Moreover, housing affordability continues to decline in California, calling for increased efforts to support housing development.
In response to the need for revitalization and the promotion of affordable housing development, the City of Victorville has taken steps to expand the project area of the Old Town CRIA. The Old Town neighborhood, which is currently designated as a disadvantaged community, has been a focal point for the City's CRIA efforts. However, recognizing the importance of incorporating additional sites for housing development, the City decided to modify the boundaries of the project area.
The newly modified project area now includes not only the Old Town neighborhood but also the sites identified in the certified 6th cycle housing element. This expansion was made possible by the enactment of Senate Bill 780, which grants local jurisdictions the flexibility to include suitable housing development sites in their CRIA areas. The certified housing element sites, as well as parcels zoned for transit priority projects, are now incorporated into the CRIA area.
The Old Town portion of the CRIA Project Area comprises about 400 acres in the eastern portion of Victorville. It’s home to several cultural sites, as well as an Amtrak station. Historic Route 66, once the leading highway from Chicago to Los Angeles, runs through Old Town.
At the City’s request, Harris analyzed the eligibility of Old Town to become a CRIA. Eligibility requirements for CRIAs include:
- Annual median household income below 80% of the statewide, countywide, and citywide levels
- Unemployment at least 3 percent points higher than statewide median
- Rates of violent crime at least 5% higher than statewide median
- More than 80% of land comprised of deteriorated commercial and residential structures
Harris has provided housing and community development services to Victorville since 2019. We prepared and updated the City’s Housing, Land Use, Safety, and Environmental Justice Elements. We solicited and coordinated developers, prepared annual housing reports, prepared various financial reports, conducted residual analysis for affordable housing projects, and created an asset management database.
For our CRIA analysis, we factored in information from federal, state, and county governments. We also conducted visual inspections of the area, which revealed deteriorated and inadequate infrastructure such as foundations, walls, ceilings, roofs, chimneys, and more.
A Path Forward
Based on our assessment, the Victorville City Council authorized the formation of a CRIA for Old Town Victorville in August 2021. Per state law, it established a CRIA Board comprised of three City Council members and two community figures.
In June 2022, the City Council waived development impact fees for all development in the CRIA Project Area. The City is now seeking public input on the Old Town CRIA Plan, which includes:
- Descriptions of deteriorated infrastructure and programs for repair
- Affordable housing programs with 5-year estimates of deposits, assisted units, and other factors
- A program to remove hazardous substances
- A program to fund economic revitalization
- A 5-year projected receipt of revenue and projected expenses
As of February 2023, the CRIA Board voted to include the sites in their certified 6th Cycle Housing Element. Since expanding the CRIA Project Area, Victorville has seen significant increases in revenue and allocations to the investment area.
The Plan spells out intentions to transform Old Town into a pedestrian-friendly focal point for the region – one that brings in new housing opportunities, businesses, and jobs.
While Victorville would be the first California city to establish a CRIA, it shouldn’t be the last. Victorville and Old Town can serve as a model for other cities and communities seeking options for revitalization that do not involve raising taxes.
Learn more about the City of Victorville’s Old Town CRIA Plan.