Gov. Brown rebuilds redevelopment

Gov. Brown rebuilds redevelopment

brown signing water bondReversing his 2011 abolition of redevelopment, on Monday Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law two bills that will revive it, Senate Bill 628 and Assembly Bill 229. He also vetoed a third redevelopment measure, AB2280, he believed went too far by codifying an anti-poverty program into redevelopment law.

Property rights advocates opposed the trio of  bills as bringing back eminent domain abuses and taxpayer-funded corporate handouts.

“Since redevelopment’s abolishment in 2011, the Redevelopment Lobby has been advocating for a replacement that would bring politically connected developers back to the public money trough,” said Nick Mirman, a grassroots activist with the California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights, an influential property rights group that recently released a radio ad campaign against the measures. “If signed, these redevelopment bills will invite a return to the era of rampant eminent domain abuse and corporate welfare.”

2011: Brown abolished redevelopment

Brown’s signatures reversed his 2011 decision to abolish the state’s redevelopment agencies. At that time, Brown gained $1.5 billion in redevelopment funds to close the state’s budget gap. And he said the state needed to move away from redevelopment agencies.

“Some of this redevelopment has been going on for 20, 30, even 40 years,” Brown said, according to the LA Times. “We’ve got a lot of the redevelopment thrust, and now we’re going to have to move away from it or we’re going to have to cut more deeply.”

And just two years ago, City Journal reported, Brown vetoed “a slate of six bills that would have revived, in one form or another, California’s redevelopment agencies.”

AB229: Infrastructure and Revitalization Financing Districts

AB229, authored by Assemblyman John A. Perez, D-Los Angeles, would allow local governments to create Infrastructure and Revitalization Financing Districts to revive old military bases. According to the Legislative Counsel’s digest, these districts could issue 30 years of debt with the approval of two-thirds of voters in the district.

The California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights contended, “IRFDs will have all the unchecked powers granted to Redevelopment Agencies, including the unrestricted power of eminent domain to forcibly seize homes and small businesses on behalf of politically connected developers.”

That position is supported by the California Taxpayers Association.

SB628: Redevelopment 2.0

Earlier this year, UT San Diego columnist Steven Greenhut warned the issue was “back with a vengeance.” He is the author of a book on redevelopment, “Abuse of Power: How the Government Misuses Eminent Domain.”

“Redevelopment offered wide latitude to publicly fund private development projects — and this bill could make it even wider,” he wrote. “Redevelopment revivalists have promoted the use of Infrastructure Financing Districts as a partial replacement for the defunct agencies. This bill that puts those districts on steroids.”

SB628, authored by state Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, would revive redevelopment agencies under a new name, “Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts.” These districts would be allowed to “finance public capital facilities or other specified projects of community-wide significance” with the approval of 55 percent of voters in the district, according to the legislative summary.

After-Redevelopment

The influential Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association called the proposal “Redevelopment 2.0 without any protections whatsoever.”

AB2280: Community Revitalization and Investment Authority

The only bill vetoed by Brown was Assembly Bill 2280, by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas. The legislation would have allowed local governments to create a “Community Revitalization and Investment Authority in a disadvantaged community to fund specified activities.”

According to the California Planning and Development Report, “AB 2280 would revive redevelopment-style tax-increment financing in narrowly chosen urban areas, with 25% affordable housing set-asides. Those provisions are more reassuring to housing and local-government advocates but more likely to trigger the governor’s opposition to former redevelopment mechanisms and his skepticism toward housing affordability restrictions.”

In his veto message, Brown said the bill went too far. “I applaud the author’s efforts to create an economic development program, with voter approval, that focuses on disadvantaged communities and communities with high unemployment,” he wrote. “The bill, however, unnecessarily vests this new program in redevelopment law. I look forward to working with the author to craft an appropriate legislative solution.”

Redevelopment: History of abuses

Redevelopment agencies, which promise to revive blighted areas, have a long history of abusing property rights and granting sweetheart deals to developers. In the landmark case, Kelo v. City of New London, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the city to seize the homes and property of Susette Kelo and her neighbors in Connecticut in order to provide a corporate welfare package to the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Inc.

“While Ms. Kelo and her neighbors lost their homes, the city and the state spent some $78 million to bulldoze private property for high-end condos and other ‘desirable’ elements,” the Wall Street Journal observed in 2009. “Instead, the wrecked and condemned neighborhood still stands vacant, without any of the touted tax benefits or job creation.”

Before they were abolished in 2011, California’s redevelopment agencies were no better than those in New London.

“California’s redevelopment agencies are some of the worst perpetrators of eminent domain abuse in the nation,” said Christina Walsh of the Institute for Justice in 2011 as redevelopment was being abolished; the institute represented Kelo. “Until state legislators abolish these agencies, no private property owner in California is safe.”

Now redevelopment is back.

11 comments

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  1. bob
    bob 30 September, 2014, 13:11

    A great victory for crony capitalism. Oh, the Brown Buzzard also outlawed plastic shopping bags today and required merchants to charge at least 10 cents for paper bags.

    Reply this comment
  2. Queeg
    Queeg 30 September, 2014, 17:14

    Brown is an older gentleman with a cute doggie……older people love gummy bears and the good old days…nostalgia…..it will be amusing to see Santa Ana roll out their former grandiose redevelopment nonsense, freeze property values and increase exponetially blight in old neighborhoods!

    Why again-

    Reply this comment
  3. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 1 October, 2014, 16:51

    The Cities were made instant paupers with the abolishment of Redevelopment. It was never necessary, in the first place, to abolish it. It was a job-creator, and many broken-down neighborhoods and residential neighborhoods were rejuvenated with the use of Redevelopment–many of my public-sector friends lost their jobs over that action.

    Brown’s dog, a big black Lab named Dharma, died. He became the caretaker of Sutter to help his sister who had to find a home for him. You are right about one thing–Sutter is cute! Old people love the same things everyone else loves–they just can’t do certain things as good any more.

    Reply this comment
  4. dork
    dork 2 October, 2014, 09:52

    It was a job-creator, and many broken-down neighborhoods and residential neighborhoods were rejuvenated

    So if the Government STEALS my Money and then STEALS property from other citizens and gives it all to their Developer Friends to “rejuvenate” blighted neighborhoods, whereby the DEVELOPERS reap huge profits,and the Politicians receive huge Bribes, How does that help TAXPAYERS that were FORCED to foot the BILL either monetarily or through Confiscation of Property, while receiving NO BENEFIT??

    We called this Fascism when I was a kid

    Sig Heil

    Reply this comment
    • SeeSaw
      SeeSaw 2 October, 2014, 19:49

      Politicians that take bribes go to jail. Why don’t you grow up! And, if you don’t want to be considered a facist, stop signing off as one.

      Reply this comment
  5. dork
    dork 2 October, 2014, 09:54

    I might add that in no way can a PUBLIC SECTOR JOB EVER be an economic gain, for it is an EXPENSE to the TAXPAYERS.

    Reply this comment
    • SeeSaw
      SeeSaw 2 October, 2014, 19:38

      Of course it can. Every dollar a spender puts into the economy multiplies into more spending up the line. If you have a product or services to sell you certainly want consumers who have the money to buy them. That’s how the economy works, and public-sector workers make up a large segment of the middle class, and those people have money to spend. Don’t you dare consider public-sector workers irrelevant!

      Reply this comment
    • SeeSaw
      SeeSaw 2 October, 2014, 19:41

      How on earth can you consider roads, water mains, bridges, etc. expenses only and of no benefit to you! Disgusting!

      Reply this comment
  6. Queeg
    Queeg 2 October, 2014, 13:55

    Believe….a property owner hears the word “redevelopment” he flinches in abject terror

    In many cases, there will never be money available to complete redevelopment projects…….so why do it? Simple……freezing property values hurts the refinance market affording owners with fix up funds…..properties slowly tail spin….some owners die or give up……..cheap sales.. …..magically there are redevelopment funds…..ain’t California dynamic…..

    Hail……. El Duce,The Moose!

    Reply this comment
  7. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 2 October, 2014, 17:04

    Most of the Redevelopment projects were private-sector, in partnership with the local governments. Would you rather see the skid rows and century-old, rundown houses on top of Bunker Hill now, instead of the booming business, entertainment, areas that have replaced the blight? Take a trip through CA sometime and see if you can spot areas that had used Redevelopment, vs those that didn’t.

    Reply this comment
  8. Karen Renfro
    Karen Renfro 3 October, 2014, 15:03

    Bad news, yes. But no surprise. This didn’t need to happen, but it did because most people who cheered when Gov. Brown and the Democrats in the State Legislature were successful in shutting down California’s 400-odd local redevelopment agencies believed Redevelopment had been abolished. Not so. The mighty body of federal, state and local law that made corporate welfare and eminent domain abuse possible in the Land of Liberty was still on the books. And, still is. Redevelopment as we know it today began with the Housing Act of 1949–a compromise between Democrats, who loved its original incarnation as a big federal program administered from Washington, D.C., and Republicans, who hated it but were willing to hand it over to the states so it could be administered locally by locally-appointed local officials. Our state legislators lost no time and in 1951 passed the California Community Redevelopment Act (Health & Safety Code Sec. 33000, et seq). Then, in 1952, California voters were hoodwinked into approving an amendment to the State Constitution called “Taxation of Redevelopment Projects” (Article XVI, Sec. 16). Remember Prop. 22? That gave California’s CRA’s more money and power. Since then, the League of Cities, California Redevelopment Association, the Association of Mayors (or whatever they call themselves), Congress, state legislatures, and the courts have been working diligently to expand its powers. The 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kelo vs. City of New London revolved around points of Connecticut’s unusual form of redevelopment law. We can get rid of redevelopment if we stop thinking that there is nothing we can do to abolish it. Yes, there is. We have to take the fight to a higher level. If we understand the truth about this most ignorant and stupid form of government power, that it is not wrong because it doesn’t work, but it doesn’t work because it is morally and constitutionally wrong. In this it resembles slavery and our cause is much like the 19th-century abolitionists. If you know your history you know that movement had its origins in the 18th Century and it took the abolitionists 100 years to build up their power-base. But, after the Dred Scott Decision in the 1850’s, it only took ten years before the people of the United States ratified the Constitutional amendment that abolished slavery in America forever. The pro-redevelopment lobby has never been able to win any argument where the moral and constitutional issues are raised. Redevelopment is immoral because it violates the Ten Commandments (theft, false witness, coveting, and the coveting of private property–including other people’s land) and the because it violates the Fourth, Fifth, Ninth and Fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution. We could do an end run around the entire kit and kaboodle if we mounted a nationwide campaign to adopt a properly-worded amendment that would abolish redevelopment in all its egregious forms and prevent it from coming back in any form everywhere in the country. The first thing to do is to stop saying it can’t be done. People with big causes do it all the time. Why not us?

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