Redevelopment Makeover

Katy Grimes: When Gov. Jerry Brown first called for eliminating the state’s 425 redevelopment agencies, on the surface it appeared a sincere effort.

But his proposal was surprisingly not supported by Republicans. And since it was proposed by Brown, a Democrat, many were suspicious of the real motive. But Brown has insisted that his quest to eliminate the agencies is sincere and will put more than $1 billion back into the state’s coffers.

Apparently the redevelopment agencies took Brown at his word and feel threatened enough to have proposed legislation which is designed to appear as if they are reforming, but will really allow the agencies to continue eminent domain land grabs.

Authored by Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo, (Watsonville), language in AB 1250 states that it “would impose new requirements on redevelopment agencies with respect to implementation plans and evidentiary standards and expand existing prohibitions on agency direct assistance to certain projects.”

That’s legal-speak. The bill would maintain the government’s ability to be able to seize land for the benefit of politically well-connected developers, according to Timothy Sandefur, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation.

Greatly disturbing is the political process which has allowed the bill to receive a rules waiver allowing it to speed through the Assembly – despite missing the recent legislative deadline.

At the heart of AB 1250 is a claimed effort to tighten up the definition of “blight,” which has been greatly abused by many local redevelopment agencies.

Sandefur says “this is problematic because the standards for “blight” are extremely vague: they include things like “nearby incompatible land uses that prevent the development,” “a high crime rate,” or “conditions that prevent or substantially hinder the viable use or capacity of buildings or lots.” What exactly do these phrases mean? Answer: whatever the government says they mean.”

At issue, according to Sandefur, is what AB 1250 does not do:

  • Does not define “blight”
  • Does not give property owners a meaningful opportunity to challenge a “blight” designation in court
  • Does not restrict government to condemning only “blighted” property
  • Does not limit in any way government’s power to condemn small businesses, apartment buildings, churches, farms, etc., and give them to private developers for their own private enrichment
  • Does not require government to provide an attorney for victims of eminent domain
  • Does not require an objective analysis of redevelopment agency performance.

This bill is nearly identical to SB 286 by Sen. Rod Wright (D-Gardena).

For more information on AB 1250, Sandefur has written an excellent piece on the Pacific Legal Foundation blog.

JUNE 13, 2011




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  1. keepdapeace
    keepdapeace 13 June, 2011, 17:43

    Republicans love the redevelopment agencies and don’t want to see them go away anytime soon. It allows them to continue to bring desired property at cut rate prices to their rich cronies. Brown’s eradication of redevelopment will put the money back where it belongs: with the people.

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  2. Bravoman
    Bravoman 14 June, 2011, 08:45

    Ummm……..This is authored by a Democrat! (Authored by Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo, (Watsonville)! I guess the facts of the story don’t really matter, just keep blaming the Republicans for anything and everything, seems to be a Liberal trend these days!

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