Gov. Brown’s proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies has garnered national media attention as local officials grow protective and defensive of their territory and the economic value of redevelopment efforts. The New York Times had a piece over the weekend about the anger of city and county officials and their frustration over the governor’s plan to scrap a program that generates $2 billion in tax revenue and 300,000 jobs annually. Chris McKenzie, the executive director of the California League of Cities, is quoted as saying that “Right now, this is the only way we are creating anything that will give people affordable housing and jobs. For the state to get rid of that is unthinkable. It’s like a farmer eating his seed corn. Why would you destroy the very thing that is going to protect jobs in the future, year after year? Cities have been far, far ahead of the state in making the tough decisions and they all think this is something worth keeping.” To read the full article, see here
The Wall Street Journal provided coverage of cities that have been quick to commit funds to various projects as a way to circumvent Brown’s budget proposal. The Journal points out that Los Angeles secured $930 million in current and future tax revenue, Fremont committed $140 million in bond sales, and Long Beach committed $886 million in property-tax proceeds. Joe Heckel, community development director in Grass Valley, is quoted in the article stating that “For our little town, these funds are critical, because they really drive economic development. We're not building golf courses, shopping malls—we're really building infrastructure in our area.” To read the full article, see here.
Columnist Michael Hiltzik writes in the LA Times that while it may not be politically or legally possible to eliminate redevelopment, a thorough review of their worth and finances is long overdue. Hiltzik writes: “These agencies are subject to virtually no outside oversight. Cases abound of apparent sweetheart deals between redevelopment bodies and private developers. State auditors have found some agencies consistently shortchanging their local schools and counties out of the small portion of their tax collections state law requires them to hand over. The city of Bell's redevelopment agency helped fund the scandal there by steering $500,000 in affordable-housing funds into the hands of city officials, according to state Controller John Chiang.” Read the full article here.