Despicable Group Shutting Doors

Steven Greenhut: The California Redevelopment Association has sent a tearful letter to city managers across the state announcing that it is closing its doors for good. Good riddance, although this is a moment worth remembering — the first time the CRA issued a press release that I enjoyed reading. The CRA is a despicable organization that defended those city redevelopment agencies that ravaged property owners across California, strong-arming them into forfeiting their properties so that the cities could transfer the land to developers who promised sales-tax windfalls. CRA officials adamantly fought serious reforms that would have halted these abuses. The CRA was a great champion of the fiscalization of land use. Such agencies helped erode the sense of community in California cities by advocating the idea that no one’s home or business is safe as long as there is a big developer who can use the property more profitably.

I dealt with redevelopment agencies many times over the years and, quite frankly, they were the breeding ground for the kind of heartless bureaucracies one would find in totalitarian nations. Small business owners, often minorities and immigrants, were put through a legal wringer and when I talked to RDA officials, their view was that if it was legal, it was OK. Well, shutting down the agencies is legal and that’s more than OK. Again, good riddance to this group that defended indefensible and fiscally irresponsible policies.

Let’s also remember that Huell Howser, the great chronicler of our great state of California, was paid by CRA to provide a propagandistic series of shows designed to promote the great things that redevelopment supposedly accomplished. What a stain on his otherwise-fine career. Here’s a man who built a reputation celebrating our state and advocating the preservation of its historical treasures. Yet he was paid to promote agencies that destroyed those treasures in order to turn California into a giant subsidized strip mall.

Here is CRA’s sour-grapes-filled press release. Read it and clap:

California Redevelopment Association Begins Process of Dissolving Association

Sacramento, CA – In a letter to more than 360 redevelopment agencies and to city managers statewide, the California Redevelopment Association announced that it has initiated a process that will ultimately lead to the dissolution of the statewide association.

The letter from CRA President and Alhambra City Manager Julio Fuentes, and CRA Interim Executive Director Jim Kennedy reads, in part: Link to full letter here.

 “(W)e are confronted with the unfortunate reality that the years of incredible success with redevelopment – building affordable housing, creating jobs, cleaning up and reusing contaminated sites, and revitalizing communities – have now come to an end due to a policy choice of the State of California to address its fiscal imbalance in part by dissolving redevelopment agencies. As a result, cities and counties in California will, at least for a time, have to address community revitalization needs without this incredibly powerful tool.

“With the dissolution of local redevelopment agencies as of February 1, it has become clear to the board and executive staff that the business plan for CRA is no longer sustainable.  (T)he CRA Board of Directors has now concluded with great reluctance that it has no other prudent choice but to initiate the dissolution of the association. This process will take a period of time… (and) will include a membership vote to affirm dissolution actions that the Board of Directors will be asked to take.”

Fuentes and Kennedy explain that the League of California Cities has already taken a leadership role in discussing the future of any “next generation” local community revitalization tool:

“The League of California Cities has already convened a Next Generation Task Force to assist in these discussions. The imperative for California’s communities to continue addressing their infrastructure, affordable housing, jobs/economic development, brownfield reuse, and military base reuse challenges remains.  We encourage CRA members to stay active with your local legislators and the League of California Cities as the State Legislature discusses both fixes to current law, and the next generation of local government tools for community revitalization.”

For more information about the California Redevelopment Association, visit

APRIL 12, 2012

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