The Social Justice Opportunity of the Century January 20, 2011

Much to the surprise of all of us, the new governor of California, Jerry Brown, has proposed shutting down all redevelopment agencies in the state.  The reason for this is that a city (or probably a county, where a county rules directly) has had the right to declare an area a “redevelopment area” and then the portion of the property tax that goes to the county, government schools, or whatever else is frozen.  And if there is any increase in the value of the property thereafter, the extra tax revenue goes to a “redevelopment agency “ usually controlled by the city, which then provides corporate welfare for developers and other political favorites.  Redevelopment has gotten some notoriety because it has been ruled that cities can define “blight” or “economic advantage” as they choose and take property by eminent domain to resell to whoever the government imagines will do the most desirable thing with the property, often, again, a political favorite.

My politicization began when they forced out the Orange County Rescue Mission in Santa Ana in the way I have said.  But they do not always do this, and the cash slush fund operates as I have described in any case. Here we have a chance to get rid of “redevelopment” altogether – a rare opportunity indeed, because the special interests that benefit from it are many! And they will not lie down or go away easily.

According to Dan Walters, the same proposal does away with enterprise zones, which have often not helped the true small entrepreneur, but once again the politically connected who can “qualify.”

I would like to see there still be a vehicle for doing some of the cute but low impact things like gas lamps, brick sidewalks, etc., etc.  I think there is a thing called the Business Improvement District that can be used for that.  An assessment district is set up for local businesses and the assessments pay for these little improvements.  If Proposition 13 forbids this, it should be modified.

kmasugi 01/20/2011

Brown going the way of the new urbanists here?  Do we know who advises him on this?  What was his record as mayor of Oakland?

speotter 01/20/2011

I like the idea of getting rid of this political payback system. But it is another transfer of $$ from local to state government. Like it or not the redevelopment agencies borrowed monies based on the incremental income that these redevelopment districts bring in, in order to then subsidize the properties to their favored developer. I presume then the the state will take the revenue, but the debt obligations will stay with the cities, therefore another money grab by the state.
Scott Peotter

Menikov 01/20/2011

The prophet Amos often gets quoted as someone who attacked the rich, but a closer reading brings out one crucial nuance: He’s particularly talking about the rich who had political power and could force the poor to do their will. Then and now, government programs almost invariably help those who major in government.

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