Donnelly backed redevelopment exemption

by John | May 15, 2014 11:00 am

NEW: Donnelly aide works with unions vs. GOP candidatesAssemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, who routinely campaigns on a platform of getting government out of the way[1], is struggling to explain his past support for redevelopment [2]agencies.

“Let’s get more people working, let’s not assault RDAs,” Donnelly said in his 2011 floor speech against Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to end redevelopment agencies, which the Legislature quickly enacted. “I don’t think we should put 300,000 private sector jobs at risk when we have 2.5 million Californians out of work.”

After searching the archives, has uncovered more evidence of Donnelly’s strong support for redevelopment agencies, which earned him a “public thank you” from local government officials. It also included support for a late-session, gut-and-amend[3] bill to grant one Southern California city a special exemption from the state’s end to redevelopment.

Donnelly’s campaign and legislative office did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the issue.

Cities send public thank-you message to Donnelly

The issue of redevelopment commonly pits city officials, looking to revitalize depressed areas, against private property rights advocates who argue that such projects waste billions of dollars of taxpayer funds, while abusing the eminent domain process.

In August 2011, city officials from Monrovia publicly praised Donnelly for joining their side in the redevelopment fight.

“As local mayors and city council members, we want to send a public thank-you message to state Sen. Bob Huff and Assembly members Anthony Portantino and Tim Donnelly,” Monrovia Mayor Mary Ann Lutz wrote in an August 2011 letter to the editor[4], published in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

In 2011, Donnelly voted against Senate Bill 77[5] and later ABX1 26[6], the ultimate death sentence for redevelopment that was supported by the[7] California Republican Assembly and the California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights[8]. The controversial votes put him at odds with the nation’s leading property rights advocates.

Monrovia wasn’t alone in highlighting Donnelly’s defense of redevelopment agencies. The letter was issued on behalf of Anaheim, La Verne, Bradbury, Monrovia, City of Industry, Pasadena, Claremont, Placentia, Diamond Bar, San Dimas, Duarte, Sierra Madre, Glendora, South Pasadena, Highland, Temple City, La Canada Flintridge and Walnut.

“As mayors and council members, we find it hard to believe that Gov. Brown and the Legislature actually voted to eliminate redevelopment agencies from the California in spite of clear facts that redevelopment abates blighting influences and brings positive economic development benefits to our cities and the state,” Lutz wrote on behalf of local government officials.

Donnelly’s vote also caught the eye of the City of Arcadia, which debated whether the council should join [9]in the chorus of local government “thank yous” to Donnelly “for supporting local Redevelopment Agencies.”

Donnelly backed special exemption

Now, Donnelly says that he is opposed to redevelopment and only voted to deny Brown a victory.

“I haven’t changed my position on redevelopment,” Donnelly recently said of his past vote[10]. “I was voting to deny Jerry Brown a victory that would lead to the further destruction of our state. … I remember it very distinctly in my mind.”

That doesn’t explain why Donnelly voted later in the year to grant the City of Whittier a special exemption from the state’s elimination of redevelopment. At the close of the 2011 legislative session, the city sought a special exemption from the state law to move forward with development of the closed Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility.

Assembly Bill 31X, authored by Assemblyman Charles Calderon, D-Industry, was necessary, local officials said[11], “to provide assistance to Costa Mesa-based Brookfield Homes, which bid $42.5 million to purchase the 73.8-acre property from the state.”

Democrats blocked “special carve out”

But something strange happened during the floor debate. Democratic legislator after Democratic legislator rose in opposition to the gut-and-amend bill because it granted a special exemption to one redevelopment project.

“This goes outside the process that we put in place at the expense of other cities and other agencies,” said Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D- San Diego, now the Speaker of the Assembly.

The bill also spurred opposition from then-Assemblywoman Norma Torres, D-Pomona, who noted that the bill never went through the typical committee process. According to the Whittier Daily News[12], “In many instances, gut and amend is used to pass special-interest bills that might otherwise die under careful analysis and public scrutiny.” ABX1 31 avoided the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee, which was chaired by Torres.

“What it looks like to me is a special carve out, a $70 million carve out, for one city,” Torres, now a State Senator, said of the bill. “If it’s good enough for the City of Whittier, it ought to be good enough for the City of Pomona, for the City of Chino, for the City of Montclaire, and for the City of Ontario.”

Ultimately, the bill failed in a 30-27 bipartisan vote[13].

  1. platform of getting government out of the way:
  2. support for redevelopment :
  3. gut-and-amend:
  4. August 2011 letter to the editor:
  5. voted against Senate Bill 77:
  6. ABX1 26:
  7. supported by the:
  8. California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights:
  9. whether the council should join :
  10. recently said of his past vote:
  11. local officials said:
  12. Whittier Daily News:
  13. 30-27 bipartisan vote:

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