Glossary of Terms

Absentee Owner: Property owner who owns property at one location but lives or operates a business at another location.

Adaptive Reuse: The rehabilitation of older properties for a new purpose.

Affordable Housing: Housing that is affordable to households earning at or below 120% of area median income (AMI) as defined in California law. (See Chapter 8 of the Community Guide to Redevelopment for agency obligations and definition of AMI.)

Assessed Value (AV): The amount used by the county tax assessor to value real property for tax purposes. Assessed value multiplied by the tax rate determines property tax.

Base Year: The year in which the redevelopment plan is adopted.

Base Year Assessed Value, Base Value or Frozen Base: The total assessed value of property within a project area in the year in which the redevelopment plan is adopted.

Blighted Areas - Areas that exhibit substantial and prevalent adverse physical and economic conditions requiring redevelopment assistance.

Brownfields - Environmental Protection Agency defines a "Brownfield site" as real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Redevelopment agencies revitalize local communities by spearheading efforts to clean up Brownfields and preparing these abandoned sites for productive use for housing, jobs, and businesses.

Redevelopment agencies:

  • Identify potential sites in need of clean-up
  • Investigate the extent of contamination
  • Develop a plan and ultimately clean up property by working with state and federal agencies
  • Transform Brownfield sites into housing, parks, transit centers and more by acquiring property and working with the private sector and third-party investors
  • Finance Brownfield clean-up by using their funds and ability to leverage additional resources.



California Community Redevelopment Law: Redevelopment law contained in California Health and Safety Code, Division 24, Part 1 (Section 33000 et seq.)

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is an extensive statute that requires state and local agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of their actions and to avoid or mitigate those impacts. CEQA applies to certain activities of state and local public agencies, like the Redevelopment Agency. A public agency must comply with CEQA when it undertakes an activity defined by CEQA as a project. Most proposals for physical development in California are subject to the provisions of CEQA, as are many governmental decisions which do not immediately result in physical development (such as adoption of a general or community plan.) Every development project which requires a discretionary governmental approval will require at least some environmental review based upon CEQA, unless an exemption applies. The length and depth of CEQA precludes a brief definition and may be viewed in its entirety at http://ceres.ca.gov/ceqa/

Covenant - A development covenant is an agreement sometimes used in conjunction with real estate transactions to impose obligations on the purchaser, which can vary by agreement. The purchaser may agree to ensure the use of the property to certain zoning restrictions, use the property to create a certain number of jobs in the area, or other obligations. Development covenants are generally designed to standards to guarantee the real estate and facilities to be constructed will benefit the community, state, and region.

Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) - a DDA is used when the Agency plans to transfer Agency-owned property to another party for development. The key difference between an OPA and a disposition and development agreement (DDA) is that the OPA is used for existing property owners who wish to develop their own property collaboratively with the Agency.

Economic Development: A general term indicating projects to stabilize and enhance an area's economy and create or maintain jobs.

Eminent Domain: Authority of a government agency to acquire property for public purposes, with payment of just compensation. "Public purposes" include the elimination of blight in the case of redevelopment agencies, also known as condemnation. (Eminent domain is rarely used in Fresno.)

Environmental impact report (EIR) is an informational document which, when its preparation is required must be considered by every public agency prior to its approval or disapproval of a project. The purpose of an environmental impact report is to provide public agencies and the public in general with detailed information about the effect which a proposed project is likely to have on the environment; to list ways in which the significant effects of such a project might be minimized; and to indicate alternatives to such a project.

Exclusive Negotiation Agreement

ERAF - In 1992, the state enacted legislation shifting partial financial responsibility for funding education to local governments. The state instructed county auditors to shift the allocation of local property tax revenues from local governments to education revenue augmentation funds, directing that specified amounts of county, city and other local property taxes be deposited to support schools. The state has provided some funding to replace the shift; however, most of those funds are earmarked for particular purposes and represent only a fraction of the funds lost.

Feasible means capable of being accomplished in a successful manner within a reasonable period of time, taking into account economic, environmental, social, and technological factors.

Housing Production/Inclusionary Housing: Within a redevelopment project, a specified percentage of housing units built or substantially rehabilitated, is required by law to be available at an affordable housing cost to very low-, low- and moderate-income persons. Within cities or counties, a specified percentage of new housing that is required to be affordable pursuant to ordinance or policy.

Infrastructure: Public improvements which support development, including street improvements, lighting, sewers, flood control facilities, water lines, and gas lines.

Market Value: What a willing seller could reasonably expect to receive if he/she were to sell his/her property on the open market to a willing buyer. Redevelopment encompasses planning, development, re-planning, redesign, clearance, reconstruction, or rehabilitation of all or part of a project area. Redevelopment is a comprehensive effort to eliminate blight and otherwise improve an area through a commitment of public funds and actions. Redevelopment entails constructing and rehabilitating housing, improving public facilities, promoting employment opportunities and encouraging private investment. An Owner Participation Agreement (OPA) is contract among a property owner/developer and the redevelopment agency to allow for development of property owned by an entity other than the agency, generally the owner/developer. (SEE OPA definition)

Mixed-Use Project: Developments that combine uses, such as retail on the ground floor and residential above.

Negotiated Sale: When the price to be paid for land and improvements is mutually agreed upon by the buyer and seller.

Negative declaration means a written statement briefly describing the reasons that a proposed project will not have a significant effect on the environment and does not require the preparation of an environmental impact report.

Mitigated Negative Declaration is a written statement briefly describing the reasons that a project will not have a significant effect on the environment and does not require the preparation of an environmental impact report." The document that describes the proposed project, presents the findings, and states the reasons why the decision maker has concluded that there will be no significant effect. A completed initial study must be attached to a Negative Declaration to support the determination of no significant effect.

Owner Participation Agreements (OPA) is a legal agreement between the Redevelopment Agency and a property owner within the redevelopment project area for the development of the subject property in accordance with the adopted redevelopment plan. The OPA commits the property owner to produce a specific project within a defined time frame under mutually-agreed upon business terms. Property owners within the Redevelopment Project Area are not required to enter into OPAs to develop property. When any form of Redevelopment Agency assistance is requested for a proposed project, however, the Agency requires an OPA with the property owner. For example, a property owner in the Redevelopment Project Area wishing to build an office building on his or her land would need only customary City planning and building approvals, not an OPA to develop his or her property. But if the property owner were requesting Redevelopment Agency financial assistance to help construct the office building, an OPA would be required.

Typically, property owners seeking Agency assistance for which an OPA would be necessary contact the Redevelopment Agency staff to discuss development plans prior to submitting a formal proposal. If the project concept conforms to Agency planning goals for the site, staff will request additional specific information regarding the project and the developer, including but not limited to proposed site plans, elevations, development programming, market data and documentation of the developer's qualifications. If staff determines that the property owner's concept is viable, staff may present the proposal to the Redevelopment Agency (City Council) and request direction to prepare an OPA.

Project Areas are specifically designated in the Redevelopment Agency's plan for revitalization. (See the Redevelopment Agency's map)

Project Area Committee (PAC): Elected committee composed of project area residents, businesspersons and representatives of organizations who consult with and advise the agency.

Property Tax: The amount of tax which a property owner pays on the assessed value of his/her property. The tax is calculated by multiplying the assessed value of the property by the tax rate, which is one percent plus any voter-approved rate.

Redevelopment: "Redevelopment" means the planning, development, re-planning, redesign, clearance, reconstruction, or rehabilitation, or any combination of these, of all or part of a survey area, and the provision of those residential, commercial, industrial, public, or other structures or spaces as may be appropriate or necessary in the interest of the general welfare, including recreational and other facilities incidental or appurtenant to them and payments to school and community college districts. Redevelopment includes the following:

  • The alteration, improvement, modernization, reconstruction, or rehabilitation, or any combination of these, of existing structures in a project area.
  • Provision for open-space types of use, such as streets and other public grounds and space around buildings, and public or private buildings, structures and improvements, and improvements of public or private recreation areas and other public grounds.


Re-planning, redesign or original development of undeveloped areas as to which either of the following conditions exist.

  • The areas are stagnant or improperly used because of defective or inadequate street layout, faulty lot layout because of size, shape, accessibility, or usefulness, or for other causes.
  • The areas require re-planning and land assembly for reclamation or development in the interest of the general welfare because of widely scattered ownership, tax delinquency, or other reasons.


In a city and county, redevelopment includes improving, increasing, or preserving emergency shelters for homeless persons or households. These shelters may be located within or outside of established redevelopment project areas. Redevelopment does not exclude the continuance of existing buildings or uses whose demolition and rebuilding or change of use are not deemed essential to the redevelopment and rehabilitation of the area.

Redevelopment Agency Board: The governing body created to designate redevelopment project areas, supervise and coordinate planning for a project area and implement the revitalization program. (In Fresno, City Council serves as the Redevelopment Agency Board) Redevelopment Plan: Plan for revitalization and redevelopment of land within the project area in order to eliminate blight and remedy the conditions which caused it.

Rehabilitation: To improve, alter, modernize and/or modify an existing structure to make it safer and healthier, bring it up to building code standards and create more usable space.

Relocation: The provision of new housing and/or business locations for residents, businesses or organizations that must move as a result of redevelopment activities.

Relocation Assistance: Aid for those who relocate, including assistance in finding and paying for a new location, payments to cover moving costs, and additional payments for certain other costs.

Tax Allocation Bond: A bond or financial obligation issued by the agency in order to generate funds to implement the redevelopment plan. The bond is repaid with tax increment revenues flowing to the agency.

Tax-Exempt Bond: A bond on which the interest payments are not subject to federal taxation. Tax Increment: The increase in property taxes within the redevelopment project area that result from increases in the project area assessed value that exceed the base year assessed value.

Tiering or tier is coverage of general matters and environmental effects in an environmental impact report prepared for a policy, plan, program or ordinance. That report is followed by narrower or site-specific environmental impact reports, which incorporate by reference the discussion in any prior environmental impact report and which concentrate on the environmental effects which (a) are capable of being mitigated, or (b) were not analyzed as significant effects on the environment in the prior environmental impact report.

Sources: California Redevelopment Association; Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act.; State of California Health and Safety Code Sections (multiple citations); California Natural Resources Agency

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