Anti-RDA Effort Heating Up

Steven Greenhut: New efforts are popping up to try to arm-twist one more Assembly Republican into supporting the end of California’s noxious redevelopment agencies. Hopes are higher with the election of Assemblywoman Beth Gaines, the Roseville Republican who ran on an anti-RDA platform and was supported by anti-RDA billionaire Howard Ahmanson. Here is a great piece by Jon Fleischman of Jon notes: “We’re all familiar with the expression, ‘snatching victory out of jaws of defeat’ — well, on March 16th of this year, I was in shock as I watched Republicans legislators in the State Assembly amazingly do the opposite as they, ‘snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory.'”

He announces a new coalition: “Today a new coalition of conservative and property rights leaders, of which I am proud to be a part, is announcing a major effort to urge, cajole, push, and prod legislators (Republicans at this point, I guess, sans Chris Norby who is already on board) to put up the votes, and then some, to grab victory out of the jaws of defeat, and end the scourge of RDA’s once and for all.”

There’s a new Web site:

And here’s a statement from property rights activist Marko Mlikotin:

Today, conservative leaders and private property rights advocates announced a statewide public education campaign to convince Republican State Legislators to abolish California Redevelopment Agencies (RDAs) to advance the conservative values of property rights and fiscal responsibility. In March, only one Republican voted for Governor Jerry Brown’s budget plan to abolish 425 RDAs.

RDAs have come under considerable public scrutiny for wasteful government spending, eminent domain abuse and, according to independent state analysis, failing to increase theoverall number of California jobs. The campaign is designed to build support among the public and to ask GOP legislators to sign a pledge to abolish redevelopment agencies. This pledge will serve as a commitment to conservative values such as protecting taxpayers and private property.

“Republican Legislators need to convince voters that they remain dedicated to defending private propertyrights and protecting taxpayers,” said Jon Fleishman, a conservative blogger and former officer of the California Republican Party. “Pledging to abolish redevelopment agencies will reaffirm their commitment to conservative principles.”

A State Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) report found that RDAs divert over $5 billion in tax increment revenue annually without any reliable evidence that they create new jobs.

“All the while redevelopment agencies are using eminent domain to forcibly seize property from unwillingsellers, they have not fulfilled their promise of creating new jobs,” said Marko Mlikotin, president of the California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights. “Redevelopment has failed taxpayers and threatens private property rights.  It is time for the Legislature to do away with these government boondoggles.”

A notable taxpayer organization also voiced concerns. Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association said, “Redevelopment agencies have been the biggest abusers of homeowners’ property rights in California.  Immediate action is needed now and we urge all legislators, including Republicans, to reject the influence of politically connected developers and do what is right for ordinary California homeowners.”

Redevelopment agencies’ insatiable desire for revenue has led them to forcibly seize places of worship, small businesses and homes by eminent domain that are clearly not blighted. Illustrating that RDAs have run amuck, the Municipal Officials for Redevelopment Reform found that a full 30% of all urbanized land in California has been declared blighted.

A California’s State Controller audit of RDAs reached a similar conclusion that overly broad definitions of “blight” expose private property to eminent domain abuse and invite wasteful spending of tax dollars on dubious redevelopment projects such as luxury golf courses. In addition, redevelopment funds were inappropriately used to supplement the general funds of local governments.

“California’s redevelopment agencies are some of the worst perpetrators of eminent domainabuse in the nation,” said Christina Walsh, from the Institute for Justice, the organization that represented Susette Kelo before the U.S. Supreme Court in Kelo v. City of New London.  “Until state legislators abolish these agencies, no private property owner in California is safe.”

Californians are encouraged to visit to learn how they can join our campaign to protect private property rights and eliminate government waste, and support legislation that abolishes RDAs, SB 77 and AB 101.

The California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights is California’s leading private property rights (non-partisan) organization founded in 2005 and was a lead sponsor of Proposition 98, a 2008 state ballot measure that sought to protect private property rights.

It’s high time that we fight back and high time that Republicans start living up to their stated principles.

MAY 24


Write a comment
  1. John Seiler
    John Seiler 24 May, 2011, 16:06

    Let’s hope a couple Republicans change their minds and join the majority Democrats in killing this anti-property rights monstrosity.

    Reply this comment
  2. gary
    gary 24 May, 2011, 19:39

    It sounds to me like your complaint is with eminent domain rather than rda’s.

    Reply this comment
  3. Steven Greenhut
    Steven Greenhut 24 May, 2011, 21:14

    Eminent domain is the biggest problem and many RDAs routinely abuse or threaten to use eminent domain for non-public uses. Redevelopment officials adamantly fought serious eminent domain reform. But I also am against the central planning aspects — the distortion of the free market when City Hall picks economic winners and losers. I’m against corporate welfare and the wanton debt spending that are part and parcel of the redevelopment process. I also dislike the costly bureaucracies that spring up to administer these programs and the ugly architecture that typically results when bureaucrats decide on projects rather than the marketplace.

    Reply this comment
  4. gary
    gary 25 May, 2011, 17:09

    ….and, you think the solution to any of those other problems, or even eminent domain for that matter, is to take funds from local government and give it to the State in order to balance their budget?


    Reply this comment
  5. Tim
    Tim 2 August, 2011, 15:52

    Gary, you’re mistaken. Redevelopment creates legal authority to divert funds from core local functions – schools, public health and safety – for a slush fund for local politicians. Now closing this fiscal wound benefits the State, because the State must backfill local schools’ losses. Why is that objectionable?

    And yes, ending the $5 billion yearly redevelopment bleed will also go far to end the worst abuses of eminent domain. But that’s not the main rationale. Redevelopment is simply and structurally the most wasteful and inefficient public spending going.

    Reply this comment

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