Redevelopment Story/Threats


Martinez citizens saw decades ago that the formation of the Martinez Redevelopment Agency (MRA) would be a major threat to those qualities that make Martinez a special place to live.  Putting the tremendous powers of a Redevelopment Agency into the hands of the wrong politicians would undermine our city finances, but, more important, would jeopardize our town’s friendly and safe, historic, small-town nature and its close connection with the hills and shoreline, open space and parks that are intrinsic to it.

That is why citizens fought so hard against the formation of the Martinez Redevelopment Agency.  With its critical powers in the hands of a Mayor and Councilmembers who favored developers and large landowners to the detriment of everyday residents, they could diminish and potentially eradicate those unique qualities that many of us cherish. 

Those powers would let the Mayor and Councilmembers:  

  • use eminent domain to seize private properties throughout Martinez, including in the Downtown/Waterfront
  • consolidate those properties into large lots
  • pay for those private properties by issuing bonds without a public vote
  • pay off those bonds by diverting property taxes that would normally go to the City General Fund for police/parks/roads/etc. and also to numerous other local agencies, including Contra Costa County Fire Department/East Bay Regional Park District/ County libraries/Contra Costa County Sheriffs department/and more
  • make private sweetheart deals with developers and landowners, including turning properties over to developers free of charge or for less than the acquisition cost 
  • and more

In the hands of the wrong politicians, a Redevelopment Agency could ruin a town like Martinez while making favorite developers and landowners rich.

The Martinez Redevelopment Agency would pose a major threat to the Downtown and Waterfront in particular, potentially seizing private properties and consolidating them into large lots that could be passed to developers in sweetheart deals and used to build large scale “big box” stores and high-rise, high-density housing. Our town and marina would be rebuilt into just another suburban town with a concrete marina.

Our historic, friendly, safe, small-town nature would be lost forever.

Starting in the 1950s, concerned Martinez citizens saw this threat and banded together to fight the formation of a Martinez Redevelopment Agency.  The Committee Against Martinez Redevelopment Agency (CAMRA) was the last of several such citizen groups that worked hard for literally decades to keep a Redevelopment Agency out of our town. 


  • held protests at City Hall and packed City Council meetings
  • testified at public meetings
  • blanketed the town with thousands of newsletters and fliers on citizen doorsteps
  • opposed the advisory ballot measure that Mayor Schroder and the City Council sponsored.  Citizens even published an actual 4-color newspaper to inform the public: the “Martinez Messenger Vol. 1  No. 1.”  (Click here to see one edition of the newspaper citizens produced.) 
  • held public classes on the problems with a Martinez Redevelopment Agency
  • wrote letters to the editor
  • ran their own websites
  • organized a successful referendum that overturned a key City Council resolution
  • and much more

Ultimately, after decades of successful citizen opposition, the Martinez Redevelopment Agency (MRA) was voted into being by then-Mayor Rob Schroder and three Councilmembers:  Mark Ross, Lara DeLaney, Janet Kennedy (Bill Wainwright voted AGAINST it).  The City Council named itself as the MRA’s governing body.

With only the narrow 30-day window for a referendum, citizens rapidly put together and led a referendum drive to suspend the Council’s vote.  Thousands of voter signatures were gathered, and the referendum succeeded.  The City Council vote to form the Martinez Redevelopment Agency was put on hold. 

Finally, in 2011, then-Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill abolishing Redevelopment Agencies altogether.   He did this for several reasons, including:  (1) to protect funding for core public services at the local level (by that time billions of dollars of local property taxes were being diverted annually to Redevelopment Agencies); (2) the results of many Redevelopment Agencies were disappointing– inefficiencies and failure to achieve housing and business goals; threat to local businesses; loss of place character; displacement of local residents; and (3) more and more abuses and misuses of funds were being reported.

This is a link to an amazing short Power Point history of this Martinez citizen movement from the 1950’s through 2009:  Martinez RDA History 1950 to 2009

This is a link to Power Point presentation on the Martinez Redevelopment Agency war and surrounding issues—beavers/Pacheco Annexation/Downtown and Waterfront Master Plan and more:  The Martinez RDA Wars  A brief History

Here are links to two articles that give statewide historic background on why Redevelopment Agencies were abolished and some new alternatives about which we MUST be very cautious:

The Committee Against Martinez Redevelopment Agency (CAMRA) is the last group in a long line of Martinez groups and organizations that successfully fought the formation of a Martinez Redevelopment Agency.  CAMRA is now shutting down and is making an unrestricted donation of its assets and legacy to Thousand Friends of Martinez (TFM) because TFM closely shares CAMRA’s long-standing goals to protect and preserve Martinez’s unique values, including its friendly, historic, small-town character and its natural connection with the hills and shoreline, open spaces and parks that are all around us.

Since the abolition of Redevelopment Agencies in 2011, watered-down versions that have some of the same powers, including the diversion of local property taxes, have been passed into State law.  Infrastructure Financing Districts (IFD) and Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts (EIFD) are two notable examples.   Also Assembly Bill 1476 reauthorizing Redevelopment Agencies with “safeguards” was just recently killed in the Assembly.  It is our hope that Thousand Friends of Martinez will keep watch on these and similar laws that could have a negative effect on our town.

Please keep a copy of this memorandum and attachments easily accessible on the TFM website so the long history of the fight to stop the Martinez Redevelopment Agency (MRA) and the warning about future property tax diversions and other negative effects of redevelopment are readily available to the public.

Tim Platt for Committee Against Martinez Redevelopment Agency (CAMRA).

June 16, 2024

Martinez Messenger Vol 1 No 1
Martinez RDA History 1950 to 2009
The Martinez RDA Wars – A brief History
Why Redevelopment failed and efforts to revive it
California’s Redevelopment Agencies: The Bad Idea That Won’t Die