In 1994, California established the Fort Ord Reuse Authority with a vision that it would remove blight, create jobs, provide affordable housing, and foster economic recovery from the closure of the former Fort Ord military base.
Twenty-four years later, despite overwhelming failure by virtually every measure, FORA persists.
Consider what FORA promised as opposed to what it has delivered. Of the 16,000 jobs it promised, FORA takes credit for 4,200, although virtually all of those are at CSU Monterey Bay, where FORA played no role. Of the 3 million square feet of new commercial development, it delivered 666,000. And of the 6,160 new homes, it claims 1,020. That’s roughly 25-percent success in jobs, 20 percent in commercial development and 15 percent in housing. Imagine what kind of grade that would land you in school.
And what about blight? The amount that remains is disgraceful. The blighted buildings linger because FORA decided to assign the removal responsibility to cities and the county, and spend taxes for roads instead.
Moreover, the development FORA has been advocating for 20 years is predicated on a “future, long term, reliable, potable water system… [that] will provide at least 6,600 acre-feet per year,” per a 1993 agreement that annexed Fort Ord lands to Monterey County. What has FORA done to advance this goal? Zip. In fact, FORA staff deny that there is even an issue. FORA has been a bureaucratic fiasco.
And yet, with the FORA legislated to sunset in 2020, many of the elected officials who serve on the FORA board still argue it should be extended.
Indeed, over the past two years when they should have been developing a transition plan that provided for the assignment of responsibilities to local governments, FORA and its financially conflicted staff have only planned for its extension.
FORA isn’t going to create the jobs and housing it promised. It’s not going to remove blight. It’s not going to further economic development. And it’s certainly not going to help address the severe water problems worsened by the very development it’s promoting.
But if FORA has its way, they may revive the disastrous Eastside Parkway, a freeway to nowhere that the public opposes. A project that has already cost the public more than $1 million in legal fees because of FORA’s incompetence, and that will cost the public much more if FORA continues down the path it has presumably chosen. (They’ll take up the road planning again at a workshop scheduled for 3:30pm on Feb. 5.)
Twenty-five years of failure is long enough. To Sacramento lawmakers State Sen. Bill Monning, Assemblymember Mark Stone and Assemblymember Anna Caballero: please do the right thing by your constituents and California taxpayers, and terminate FORA. Transition its responsibilities to local governments and other regional organizations with track records of success. Please don’t reward failure and bad government when FORA seeks extension beyond 2020.