By Steve Scauzillo, Mercury News | You won’t find the term redevelopment anywhere in Assemblywoman Nora Campos’ bill. Instead, the Silicon Valley legislator is offering cities and counties the next best thing: the powerful tool known as tax increment financing.
Under Assembly Bill 690, cities can form “job and infrastructure districts” (JID) that would sell bonds and finance construction of public works projects as well as turn old warehouses into job-creating businesses. As was done under redevelopment in the past, the “districts” would pay off the debt service by capturing the increase in property tax revenues, known as tax increment.
Cities and business groups are jumping at this newest manifestation of economic development power. Many are still smarting after the state Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown ended redevelopment in 2011 and forced redevelopment agencies to liquidate their holdings and send the check to the state.
Campos’ bill may be just the first of many similar bills sent down the pipeline, even if the author and its supporters refuse to label it as a redevelopment redux. All eyes will be on Brown, who doesn’t want to see redevelopment power resurrected. Read the entire article . . .
By Jim Miller, Press-Enterprise | A year after the shutdown of redevelopment in California, the process of dissolving the decades-old program has moved from the Capitol to the courthouse as state and local officials haggle over the former anti-blight agencies’ money.
Dozens of pending lawsuits by redevelopment successor agencies in Inland Southern California and around the state challenge the Brown administration’s rejections of proposed expenses. Other cases take aim at the laws phasing out the program, contending that parts of them are unconstitutional. Read the entire article . . .
The final conference of Municipal Officials for Redevelopment Reform (MORR) will be held Thursday, October 25 at the Howard Johnson Hotel and Conference Center in Fullerton — conveniently located next to the Riverside Freeway (91) at the Harbor Boulevard exit.
According to MORR’s founder and director, Chris Norby, the event will run from 9:00 am until 2:00 pm and will include lunch. Reservations are required. There will be no charge for the conference or the lunch for those who reserve early, but this free offer is limited. So RSVP as soon as possible by calling 714-981-8474.
By Steven Greenhut, Reason | In much of the country, the mere mention of the name, Jerry Brown, signifies the otherworldly nature of California politics. Many people in other states have come up to me and said something to this effect: “You Californians are so weird that, in tough economic times, you re-elected that retread from the 1970s.”
Yet in this season of bill signings, vetoes, and elections, Gov. Brown has remained the last bulwark against the truly crazy left-wingers who run the Capitol. Brown has rejected union enrichment schemes, illegal-immigrant “rights” measures, and other nonsense. And, despite his troubling push for higher taxes, the governor vetoed all six bills that were designed to resurrect, in one way or another, the redevelopment process he killed last year. Read the entire article . . .
Video from the Institute for Justice | The California Legislature recently dissolved the state’s redevelopment agencies, notoriously the nation’s worst abusers of eminent domain—when the government condemns perfectly fine properties not for public use, but for private development. In this video the Institute for Justice urges California to stand firm in its decision to eliminate these rogue agencies, which have siphoned billions in taxpayer dollars away from schools and local infrastructure, and destroyed lives for ill-conceived projects that often never meet expectations or even come to fruition.
By Wayne Lusvardi, CalWatchdog | Stockton … Hercules … Lincoln … Milpitas. The list of cities has grown to four in the span of one week. These are all cities in California recently threatened with budgetary insolvency — where expenses exceed revenues. All have started to explore filing bankruptcy or drastically reducing their budgets and effectively doing the same, as would happen in a bankruptcy court. Read the entire article . . .
There’s still time to reserve your spot at the final conference of Municipal Officials for Redevelopment Reform (MORR) under its current name, but it’s coming up fast: this coming Wednesday, March 7.
It’s taking place in Sacramento at the Capitol Plaza Holiday Inn beginning at 7:30 am. The registration fee of $35 per person will include a hot breakfast. The morning session will break at noon so that attendees can meet with their legislators.
Click here to download the conference flyer which contains program details and the registration form. To make last-minute reservations, email Bruce Whitaker or call him at 714-981-8474.
Editorial, The Press-Enterprise | The death of redevelopment does not remove the need for revitalizing deteriorating areas or replacing aging infrastructure. But that demand does not require resurrecting a flawed program, as local governments have other ways to spur renewal. Legislators should build on those existing tools, keeping them locally funded and accountable to voters.
A state Senate hearing last week outlined options for replacing redevelopment and handling its aftermath. California, it turns out, already has other promising ways to fight urban blight. And legislators should look at expanding those approaches, instead of trying to redesign redevelopment. Read the entire editorial . . .
By Ed Morrissey, Hot Air | Five months ago, Reason TV put together a good look at the aftermath of decades-long urban renewal policies in New York City, as an example of what happened in every major American city in the post-World War II era. Advocates of government-controlled redevelopment hailed it as a way to save blighted cities from the depredations of private property owners, but in practice it became a mechanism to fund and control political machines, reward cronies, and destroy communities — all on the backs of taxpayers.
Nearly seventy years after it began, one state has decided to dump redevelopment altogether — although not for any high-minded ideas of government reform. California simply can’t afford it any longer. Read the entire article . . .
By Steven Greenhut, Bloomberg | California remains Standard & Poor’s lowest-rated state. But the agency boosted its bond outlook last week, thanks to a decreasing budget deficit that’s more the result of cutbacks and an improving economy than tax increases.
This wasn’t the only glimmer of hope resulting from California’s budget battles last year — strange as it is to find good news in a state that is far from getting its spending addiction under control.
The most encouraging news was the success of Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to shutter the state’s 400-plus redevelopment agencies, which were 1940s-era urban-renewal relics that had come to drain about 12 percent of the state’s property taxes from more traditional public services to pay subsidies to developers who build local projects favored by city hall planners.
This under-reported news is arguably more significant than the storyline about whether or not California (BEESCA) will raise taxes to solve its fiscal problems.
The agencies — long criticized for their distortion of local land-use decisions, large debt loads and frequent abuse of eminent domain for non-public uses — were dead as of Feb. 1, the result of a political dynamic that few could have predicted even a few months ago. Successor agencies will dispense with their debt, but redevelopment officials can take on no new projects. This is good news.
“Redevelopment is a Democratic program that makes some Republicans rich,” says Assemblyman Chris Norby, a Republican from Fullerton who got the anti-redevelopment ball rolling by encouraging Brown and the previous governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to think about grabbing redevelopment cash to close the state’s enduring deficit. Read the entire commentary . . .