Redevelopment: It’s aliiiiiiiive!

Aug. 29, 2012

By Katy Grimes

SACRAMENTO — The California Redevelopment Agency was given the ax in February by Gov. Jerry Brown. Since then, lawmakers have been working as diligently as Dr. Frankenstein to breathe new life back into the monster.

Many Californians said good riddance to the abusive, over-reaching agencies, notorious for taking private property through eminent domain.

But many never believed that redevelopment would really end.

The state’s redevelopment programs came under intense scrutiny as California’s budget problems worsened. Agency abuses were widespread and notorious. In 2010 one Senate committee found that many of the redevelopment affordable-housing programs spent more on employee salaries than building low-income housing.

Given that 20 percent of all redevelopment funds went toward subsidized housing projects, it became evident that taxpayers were footing the bill for an expensive bait-and-switch.

But even with the well-documented abuse, many lawmakers never gave up hope for continuing the low-income housing programs.

Almost immediately after Brown killed the redevelopment agencies, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, authored legislation that would allow cities and counties to keep the low-income housing dollars from redevelopment agencies. However, Steinberg was unable get his bill passed.

By March, there were already 14 bills authored by legislators to save or restore redevelopment agencies.

‘Sustainable’ low-income housing

Steinberg introduced SB 1151 and SB 1156, which would allow cities and other local agencies to form new redevelopment agencies, and have access to billions of dollars in former RDA assets, with a focus on green, “sustainable communities.”

“Sustainable” is the 21st century code word for publicly subsidized, high-cost construction.

Simultaneously, Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, introduced AB 1585, which would transfer the remaining balances in redevelopment low-income housing funds to local housing agencies, for new earmarked spending on yet more affordable housing.

Both of these bills passed the Assembly Tuesday, paving the way for the restoration of California redevelopment programs, but with a new face on the monster; this face is green.

“Affordable-housing advocates believe that poor people should be housed in brand-new apartments or houses, which is silly,” my CalWatchDog.com colleague Steven Greenhut wrote when Brown killed redevelopment. “Thanks to the housing bust, there’s more affordable housing available than ever. The market does a great job providing homes and apartments. Government ‘affordable housing’ breeds dependency, as people who live in housing at below-market cost lose any incentive to ever move out of those subsidized places.”

“This bill funds the green dream,” Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, opined during Assembly debate Tuesday. “This is an encroachment of our freedom. We killed it last session, and are bringing it back this session!”

Convenient flip-flopping

The speeches made by lawmakers Tuesday defending Steinberg’s bill were made by the same lawmakers who supported Brown killing redevelopment. Apparently the satisfaction of a temporary money grab has lost its luster—the budget certainly wasn’t balanced on the back of redevelopment.

“I don’t want to re-litigate the demise of redevelopment,” said Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento. But Dickinson quickly provided an alibi for the Legislature: “It was the Supreme Court that the eliminated redevelopment. We were interested in preserving the ability of redevelopment on a voluntary basis.”

Dickinson said that critics who say that the Legislature is imposing something on local government are wrong. “It is completely voluntary. It will recreate the opportunity for local communities to build in a sustainable manner as they see fit,” Dickinson said.

“There is nothing in this bill reconstructing redevelopment,” Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, and added, “There is no freedom without private property.”

12 comments

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  1. Burrito Bro
    Burrito Bro 29 August, 2012, 08:33

    It’s good the state will consider affordable housing for low income people. Someday due to poor health, global competition, advanced age, business reversals, investment losses you may need a affordable roof over your head.

    Reply this comment
  2. Tax Target
    Tax Target 29 August, 2012, 10:24

    Oh please this is government b_llcr_p. Affordable is available and doesn’t require that State to setup boondoggles to scam the public and steal private property!

    Reply this comment
  3. What a joke
    What a joke 29 August, 2012, 12:36

    Who is the California Redevelopment Agency? A state agency that got the axe?
    This looks like another one sided slanderous article filled with bogus information. I bet you voted for Obama.

    Reply this comment
  4. Burrito Bro
    Burrito Bro 29 August, 2012, 13:01

    Bro. Cannot vote…..need the papers.

    Reply this comment
  5. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 August, 2012, 13:28

    Someday due to poor health, global competition, advanced age, business reversals, investment losses you may need a affordable roof over your head.

    I need that roof right now-I was taxed out of my home…….

    Reply this comment
  6. Burrito Bro
    Burrito Bro 29 August, 2012, 14:34

    That’s a shame. Good luck in future for you.

    Reply this comment
  7. us citizen
    us citizen 29 August, 2012, 15:28

    So, you talking to yourself again?

    Reply this comment
  8. Quit Wasting My Tax Dollars
    Quit Wasting My Tax Dollars 29 August, 2012, 16:27

    There’s so much misinformation spreading re: the affordability of housing in CA. Every person who says “housing is now affordable in California” is talking about for-sale housing. Yes, the price of for-sale homes has decreased, but every family that went though a foreclosure is now a renter. The problem today is the lack of SAFE, STABLE rental housing (i.e. apartments). That’s where the shortage exists. And the people who need safe, stable affordable apartments are the people who serve your Starbucks, ring up your groceries, and teach your child’s pre-school class. I recently saw a report that shows the side-by-side comparison of the need for affordable places to live vs. the availability (or supply) of affordable places to live in every single county in CA. Every county has a deficit of affordable rentals for people who wait tables, drive ambulances, or try to make ends meet on a modest budget. There’s an organization (Housing California) that is putting this data into reports for every legislator in the state this fall. The foreclosure crisis happened, and now have a rental-housing crisis. Every Californian that becomes homeless uses more of my tax dollars in services(e.g. emergency rooms and jails) than we’d use to increase the supply of affordable places to live. It’s time to think smarter and put money toward the housing solutions that work, keep homeless people off the street, and make this state a better place to live.

    Reply this comment
  9. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 August, 2012, 16:41

    Suppy vs demand Quit.

    Reply this comment
  10. Burrito Bro
    Burrito Bro 29 August, 2012, 17:32

    There is top demand. Many poor people need your compassion and help.

    Give these people a break. They work hard and make your life much much better.

    Remember the good samaritan!

    Reply this comment
  11. Steve S
    Steve S 30 August, 2012, 02:15

    I’ve been watching these mega apartment buildings go up all over the San Fernando Valley and I have done a little investigating.

    The plan is to create dense cities integrating the middle class and the poor again, forcing them to live in apartments where one third of the units are subsidized. These will be built along our new bus lines and will create such horrible traffic that we will be forced to use public transportation, walk, ride bicycles or use golf carts.

    Because the traffic will be so bad, big box stores will become a thing of the past. They will put small stores on the bottom floor of the apartment buildings.

    If they build that new stadium downtown, they are talking about not providing any parking, forcing public transportation.

    It’s just the Greenies trying to get us out of our cars and social engineering.

    Reply this comment
  12. NorCalSaint
    NorCalSaint 30 August, 2012, 08:18

    It’s Agenda 21.

    Reply this comment

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