Is redevelopment rising from the dead?
The R Street Institute is holding a special reception to review legislative efforts to resurrect these fiscally irresponsible agencies and rekindle the grassroots opposition to them.
There is no charge. Enjoy complimentary appetizers, wine, beer and soft drinks.
For questions or to RSVP, contact Steven Greenhut at [email protected] or 909-260-9836
Quentin L. Kopp, retired judge and former San Francisco supervisor and state senator
Chris Norby, former Fullerton assemblyman, founder of Municipal Officials for Redevelopment Reform
Robert Naylor, Sacramento-based lobbyist
Steven Greenhut, R Street’s Western region director and author of the 2004 book, “Abuse of Power: How the Government Misuses Eminent Domain.”
California’s now-defunct redevelopment agencies were devised in the 1940s to fight urban blight, but morphed into a controversial means for cities to grab tax revenue. Although they had some successes, the agencies were best known for abusing eminent domain on behalf of private developers, running up debt without a public vote and subsidizing developers to build sales-tax-generating big-box stores and auto malls.
Even though the agencies spent a portion of their tax revenues on subsidized housing projects, they actually exacerbated the housing crisis by encouraging cities to base planning decisions largely on the amount of taxes that each development provided. City officials came to see retail as a winner, because of the discretionary sales-tax dollars these stores generated, and came to view housing as a money loser. So they approved more of the former and less of the latter.
At their height, the agencies diverted 13 percent of the state’s general-fund budget from more traditional public services. That’s because the state government was required to backfill school revenues that redevelopment projects had received. In the midst of a budget crisis, former Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill to shutter the agencies, and the courts upheld that decision. Brown recognized redevelopment as a form of corporate welfare.
After the state’s budget situation improved, lawmakers have slowly brought back some elements of redevelopment financing. But this year we’re facing efforts to bring back the agencies in close to their original form. Senate Bill 5 was derailed recently, but Assembly Bill 11 still is on the table. Unfortunately, few voices have spoken out against these efforts to resurrect agencies that should remain shuttered.
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