The end of redevelopment in … California?

posted at 3:30 pm on February 25, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Five months ago, Reason TV put together a good look at the aftermath of decades-long urban renewal policies in New York City, as an example of what happened in every major American city in the post-World War II era.  Advocates of government-controlled redevelopment hailed it as a way to save blighted cities from the depredations of private property owners, but in practice it became a mechanism to fund and control political machines, reward cronies, and destroy communities — all on the backs of taxpayers.

Nearly seventy years after it began, one state has decided to dump redevelopment altogether — although not for any high-minded ideas of government reform.  California simply can’t afford it any longer:

The most encouraging news was the success of Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to shutter the state’s 400-plus redevelopment agencies, which were 1940s-era urban-renewal relics that had come to drain about 12 percent of the state’s property taxes from more traditional public services to pay subsidies to developers who build local projects favored by city hall planners.

This under-reported news is arguably more significant than the storyline about whether or notCalifornia (BEESCA) will raise taxes to solve its fiscal problems.

The agencies — long criticized for their distortion of local land-use decisions, large debt loads and frequent abuse of eminent domain for non-public uses — were dead as of Feb. 1, the result of a political dynamic that few could have predicted even a few months ago. Successor agencies will dispense with their debt, but redevelopment officials can take on no new projects. This is good news.

Good news indeed.  Cities eager to get hold of the funds from redevelopment made liberal use (in every sense of the term) of eminent domain to seize private property in order to justify spending tax dollars.  It’s precisely that mechanism that drove the seizure at the heart of the Kelo case.  In many instances, eminent domain simply transferred private property from one owner to a more politically connected private owner, a point made in the Reason TV piece as well.

One might think that a racket this lucrative to those in power would never get the axe. However, California finds itself in fiscal extremities, thanks in no small part to policies like urban renewal.  These agencies got $5 billion per year from the state budget that has been running nearly $30 billion in the red.  Short of reforming the public-employee pensions — a step California will still have to take — this was one of the last places Brown and the legislature could cut to any effect of easing their dire fiscal status.

California now joins Arizona as the only other state with no redevelopment agencies to hijack private property from its owners for political payoffs.  No matter what the reasons, perhaps the Golden State can provide an example of political reform for the other 48 states still providing politicians with the means to run cronyist machines on the backs of taxpayers.


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Meanwhile in Nancy Pelosi’s home town of Baltimore, the City has decided that some run down neighborhoods are simply not worth saving at all

http://www.businessinsider.com/baltimore-has-decided-some-neighborhoods-just-arent-worth-saving-2012-2

Del Dolemonte on February 25, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Advocates of government-controlled redevelopment hailed it as a way to save blighted cities from the depredations of private property owners, but in practice it became a mechanism to fund and control political machines, reward cronies, and destroy communities — all on the backs of taxpayers.
excerpt: Ed Morrissey

.
But there is some way to change all of this, short of ‘civil war’, right?
.
Also, does this mean California will become like the fictional back-drop/setting in all of those MadMax movies?

listens2glenn on February 25, 2012 at 3:39 PM

Good news from California. That’s a rarity.

Let’s hope this eventually spreads nation-wide as plenty of states and localities are forced to deal with ever-tightening budgets and pushback from people on tax/levy increases.

Bitter Clinger on February 25, 2012 at 3:39 PM

It would be better news if Brown had made this part of a campaign to pare down the state’s real economy-killer: the regulatory agencies. But he didn’t. As with all his money-saving moves, such as cutting welfare and medical assistance programs, Brown is cutting other things in order to save what he really wants: an invasive regime of comprehensive regulation.

We pay for regulation multiple times: in salaries and operating budgets for the agencies, in the regulation-boosted prices of goods and services, in the denial of resources and loss of revenue from production, and in the flight of capital from the state.

Yet Brown wants the people to agree to new tax increases (and preserving older ones) in order to continue operating on the overregulated basis he favors. Ending redevelopment programs just doesn’t cut it.

J.E. Dyer on February 25, 2012 at 3:40 PM

One thing i’ve always noted about my state of NY is the fact that they can’t wait to incorporate every stupid idea that is thought up in CA., why do i have a feeling they’ll drag thier feet on this one?

heshtesh on February 25, 2012 at 3:45 PM

I have lived in Arizona for 6 years and did not realize that this state was the only one without a redevelopment agency. That’s why I love my adopted state. It’s refreshing after having lived my prior 40 years in California.

JackofNoTrades on February 25, 2012 at 3:49 PM

Usually other blue states follow what California does, so this might be a good thing.

KOOLAID2 on February 25, 2012 at 3:51 PM

This will be one trend that California starts that won’t travel to the rest of the country. Too many politicians (state and local) are getting rich off of this, and as long as state budgets don’t hover over the abyss, the practice will continue.

Moose Drool on February 25, 2012 at 3:52 PM

The Sac Bee (the local AP reprint service) claims that tax hikes are absolutely ultra-popular with the proles. No, really!

mojo on February 25, 2012 at 3:56 PM

Good news from California.

Bitter Clinger on February 25, 2012 at 3:39 PM

Only because the money dried up. If the money comes back they will go back to their old ways.

CW on February 25, 2012 at 3:57 PM

Housing and Urban Development – another awful idea from the Great Society of Lyndon Johnson and his War for Poverty.

What HUD did to Biloxi Mississippi is criminal. They took a beautiful and historic downtown and destroyed it, all the while paying off their union friends.

batterup on February 25, 2012 at 4:03 PM

Good news from California? Jeez, the story reads like “the operation was successful, but the patient died.”

Rixon on February 25, 2012 at 4:04 PM

It’s a start.

22044 on February 25, 2012 at 4:06 PM

If only we could get the same thing in Wilmington NC. Only $19M in the hole next year (on $100M budget) yet we get to build a $42M (yeah right, only) stadium for the Braves single a team.

This after a fail in a golf curse (ha, meant course but curse more apropos) and convention center.

traye on February 25, 2012 at 4:09 PM

Huh, Marx was right! The state will wither away, because we can’t pay for it!

Chockblock on February 25, 2012 at 4:14 PM

does this mean California will become like the fictional back-drop/setting in all of those MadMax movies?

listens2glenn on February 25, 2012 at 3:39 PM

That would be too sweet. All those straight roads running for miles through the desert – it’s a road warrior’s dream.

platypus on February 25, 2012 at 4:15 PM

We need some redevelopment in my city. Even if all it amounted to was tearing down decades-unoccupied buildings and replacing them with city parks.

MelonCollie on February 25, 2012 at 4:19 PM

What will be left if they bulldoze all these WELFARE UTOPIAs in Detroit, and other urban jungles?

these people will need some place to live.

Bet they won’t be building any of these “projects” in the upscale parts of town where the Ruling Class live.

PappyD61 on February 25, 2012 at 4:28 PM

Can you imagine what Jerry Brown would have said if a Republican had proposed such a thing?
He and his socialist buddies would have hit the ceiling screaming bloody murder that those horrible right-wing fascists were trying to turn their fair cities into slums and run down waste lands.
Only Nixon could have “opened up” China and only a Socialist Democrat like Brown could have even thought of closing down all those RDA’s as a viable option.

Lew on February 25, 2012 at 4:38 PM

Ending redevelopment programs just doesn’t cut it.

J.E. Dyer on February 25, 2012 at 3:40 PM

Except the only thing this ends is a public-private partnership for redevelopment projects.

Is there any doubt that as soon as the money is available Brown would hesitate in creating a public agency dedicated to “urban renewal” fully directed by government?

The more things change…

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on February 25, 2012 at 4:42 PM

Meanwhile in Nancy Pelosi’s home town of Baltimore, the City has decided that some run down neighborhoods are simply not worth saving at all

http://www.businessinsider.com/baltimore-has-decided-some-neighborhoods-just-arent-worth-saving-2012-2

Del Dolemonte on February 25, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Of course. Baltimore’s problems today are somehow related to Nancy Pelosi.

BTW, vacant properties in Baltimore serve an important purpose.

urban elitist on February 25, 2012 at 4:43 PM

ANOTHER sign of the end of the Republic.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/nike-foamposite-galaxy-shoe-release-causes-rioting-florida-161202536.html

people offering $2,000 plus online for these shoes.

PappyD61 on February 25, 2012 at 4:44 PM

We actually have a developer in Colorado Springs who has managed to convince the city council to declare a parcel of empty prairie near the highway as “urban blight” so he can get gubmint support/money/credit for putting in a commercial development. Unbelievable. The Kalifornicators must have somehow gained control in our formerly conservative city.

Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?…..

dentarthurdent on February 25, 2012 at 4:52 PM

Usually other blue states follow what California does, so this might be a good thing.

KOOLAID2 on February 25, 2012 at 3:51 PM

I doubt it. They’ll just want more money to start it all over again…but this time they’ll do it the right way.
You can’t fix stupid.

Mimzey on February 25, 2012 at 4:57 PM

I’m telling you, for as much of a flake as The Moonbeam is, he is actually a fairly competent manager. He demonstrated this kind of willingness to fight entrenched interests when he was mayor of Oakland also.

Sometimes.

JohnGalt23 on February 25, 2012 at 4:58 PM

Out – Urban Redevelopment (So 20th Century)

In – High Speed Trains!

So it’s back to the 19th century for CA

philw1776 on February 25, 2012 at 5:04 PM

We actually have a developer in Colorado Springs who has managed to convince the city council to declare a parcel of empty prairie near the highway as “urban blight” so he can get gubmint support/money/credit for putting in a commercial development. Unbelievable. The Kalifornicators must have somehow gained control in our formerly conservative city.

Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?…..

dentarthurdent on February 25, 2012 at 4:52 PM

As California fails, we should expect those that destroyed it to seek refuge in other states, like rats leaving the ship that they gnawed the bottom out of.

slickwillie2001 on February 25, 2012 at 5:09 PM

As California fails, we should expect those that destroyed it to seek refuge in other states, like rats leaving the ship that they gnawed the bottom out of.

slickwillie2001 on February 25, 2012 at 5:09 PM

This characterization fits W. WA & W. OR, parts of ID, W. MT, & CO.
I’ve lived & spent some time in all of those states & they are all infested by fleeing Progressives & Liberals.
They are the very same people who moved to places like Carnation WA & Monroe to get AWAY from the city life for the quaint country life, only to complain about the smell & lack of Starbucks.
They are a plague.

Badger40 on February 25, 2012 at 5:20 PM

Illinois should find a reason/excuse to do the same. Their crony capitalism and high cost of teacher and other government worker
pensions is bankrupting the state. Illinois is in very bad shape.
They are discussing a $5.00 per head (pun intended) tax on “guests” at strip clubs! They are taxing everything in sight!

On a radio program today discussing the state’s financial woes a caller asked the question: “What does Illinois export?” The tongue in cheek answer was “Corruption!” Illinois has either exported corruption to Washington or federal prisons across the country! Unfortunately, Illinois grows and fertilizes replacement corruption to take the place of those gone.

Amjean on February 25, 2012 at 5:30 PM

You see: Government running out of money is a GOOD THING. It’s the only thing that is going to bring us smaller government unfortunately.

But it’s going to happen.

The welfare state as we know it CANNOT continue. The money to maintain the entitlements out there now doesn’t exist, even if they raised tax rates to more than 100% (and started confiscating wealth along with all income).

wildcat72 on February 25, 2012 at 5:31 PM

They are a plague.

Badger40 on February 25, 2012 at 5:20 PM

They are that indeed. Unfortunately it is the price we pay for freedom of movement in this country.

chemman on February 25, 2012 at 5:33 PM

Of course. Baltimore’s problems today are somehow related to Nancy Pelosi.

BTW, vacant properties in Baltimore serve an important purpose.

urban elitist on February 25, 2012 at 4:43 PM

You should learn something of your hero, checkout this man and this one.

RickB on February 25, 2012 at 5:33 PM

Del Dolemonte on February 25, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Of course. Baltimore’s problems today are somehow related to Nancy Pelosi.

urban elitist on February 25, 2012 at 4:43 PM

Thanks for admitting it! Her Father was Mayor of Baltimore from 1947 until 1959, a prime time for “redevelopment”, and her brother continued the tradition as Baltimore’s Mayor from 1967 until 1971.

Del Dolemonte on February 25, 2012 at 5:35 PM

Of course. Baltimore’s problems today are somehow related to Nancy Pelosi.

BTW, vacant properties in Baltimore serve an important purpose.

urban elitist on February 25, 2012 at 4:43 PM

America’s problems are somehow related to Nan Pelosi. Among others.

But a fool like you could never connect the dots.

Lanceman on February 25, 2012 at 5:39 PM

What will be left if they bulldoze all these WELFARE UTOPIAs in Detroit, and other urban jungles?

these people will need some place to live.

Bet they won’t be building any of these “projects” in the upscale parts of town where the Ruling Class live.

PappyD61 on February 25, 2012 at 4:28 PM

I live in a so called upscale community. In the 90′s William
Daley, brother of Chicago former mayor, Richard Daley, worked
with Bill Clinton to move the “disadvantaged” out of Chicago Housing Projects. The result was to expand Section 8 housing
to the surrounding communities. As a landlard you can rent
to those on the list; the government pays 70% and the renter pays 30%. Although there are some Section 8 renters who do not cause
trouble, many of them are a blight on the neighborhoods they live in. Drugs, gangs, fighting, guns, destruction of property, etc.
Right down the street from where you and your spouse work
to give your family a good life. Where your house cost
$300,000.00+, where you pay $10,000+ in property taxes so your
children can go to good schools, be safe and take advantage of
park district programs for sports and play. Now you have thugs
living in your neighborhood. The absentee landlord wants their
70% so nothing is done to evict the troublemakers. However,
in my neighborhood we have what is called “neighborhood watch”
and we call the police. Often. And the police had a meeting with the neighborhood and told us to call them often. The troublemakers
left, the ones that do not cause trouble integrate to the community and stay.

It is not about the have nots and those that have. It is about
human decency. Many are in the “projects” because they don’t have it, don’t want anything they have to work for, and are living on
the government teat because they want to.

There are so many freakin government programs for the disadvantaged
there is no excuse for them to wallow in drugs and poverty.
Free housing, medical, food, now cell phones, etc. while they attend college for free to make something of themselves.

I am tired of this mamby pamby bs.

Amjean on February 25, 2012 at 5:47 PM

More on the Pelosi Mob; you readers of Free Republic will know of the writings of Attorney John Armor, AKA “Congressman Billybob”. He posted this in 2007:

Most of you know her as Nancy Pelosi. When I first met my one-time neighbor, she was daughter to one Mayor of Baltimore, Tommy D’Alesandro, Jr., and sister to Tommy, III, who’d later become Mayor.

Some of the stories about her, as she prepares to become Speaker of the House, have mentioned her past, but not honestly. At most, the glowing stories refer to the Baltimore City politics she grew up in as “rough and tumble.” Politics there and then were much more than rough and tumble. They were crooked as a dog’s hind leg.

I know. I grew up there. I made my first run for public office there, in 1971. Lemme tell y’all how Baltimore politics were conducted, then.

-snip-

Elections in Baltimore were run by the machines, which had a feudal relationships like barons in the Middle Ages. Strongest was the D’Alesandro machine. Second to that, but working hand and glove with it, was Jack Pollack’s machine. Pollack personally was a frugal man, never accused of taking a penny for himself. But he kept hundreds of thousands of dollars in safe deposit boxes, to be dispensed as needed. Pollack had, in his pocket, many politicians including Congressman and State Senators, plus more than a few judges.

Election day funds were called “walking around money.” Each precinct captain got a stack of money proportionate to the vote he was expected to produce. Sure, the captain would keep some for himself. But a wise captain would keep his greed within limits, and use most of his allotment to buy votes.

Was this illegal? Absolutely. Then, now, and all years in between.

-snip-

Honesty or corruption had nothing to do with this process. Results were all that counted. This was displayed in the D’Alesandro family history. (Nancy’s Father) Tommy, Jr., was never indicted for anything. But (Nancy’s Brother) Tommy, III, was sloppy.

He was indicted for rape as a young man. He was indicted for corruption as Mayor. Both times, the charges were dismissed when the principal witness made herself / himself scarce until the charges were dismissed. In the latter case, the witness turned up alive and well in a Las Vegas casino, after the charges against D’Alesandro were dropped. The same charges against Councilman Mimi DiPietro, had not been dismissed. When I as a candidate pointed out that DiPietro could still be tried for corruption, the D’Alesandro response was to send a compliant State’s Attorney before a compliant judge, to drop those charges also.

Del Dolemonte on February 25, 2012 at 5:48 PM

BTW, vacant properties in Baltimore serve an important purpose.

urban elitist on February 25, 2012 at 4:43 PM

urban elitist on February 25, 2012 at 4:43 PM
Places to dump bodies?
Places to shoot up drugs?
Temporary chop shops?
Urban waste dumps?
Property tax revenue?

talkingpoints on February 25, 2012 at 5:50 PM

listens2glenn on February 25, 2012 at 3:39 PM

That would be too sweet. All those straight roads running for miles through the desert – it’s a road warrior’s dream.
platypus on February 25, 2012 at 4:15 PM

.
Yeah . . . . . : )

listens2glenn on February 25, 2012 at 6:08 PM

“Gov. Jerry Brown takes case for Medi-Cal cuts to Washington”

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-jerry-brown-20120225,0,7718254.story

davidk on February 25, 2012 at 6:41 PM

Let this be a lesson that when you get big government out of the lives of the people, it cost less and everyone is happier, or almost. This means fewer union construction jobs and end to theft rights to take private property by connected developers, so how long until Nancy steps in and Obama listens, and they declare it illegal to cut redevelopment laws?

Along with other conservatives, I hope this is something other states suddenly see as a positive way to cut budgets.

Franklyn on February 25, 2012 at 7:03 PM

Usually other blue states follow what California does, so this might be a good thing.

KOOLAID2 on February 25, 2012 at 3:51 PM

I’m sure they will. I’m also sure it won’t happen until they’re as desperate as California is.

tom on February 25, 2012 at 7:21 PM

Short of reforming the public-employee pensions — a step California will still have to take — this was one of the last places Brown and the legislature could cut to any effect of easing their dire fiscal status.

#1 – Moonbeam and the rest of the horses asses in Sacramento could also ditch/combine the 118 “Advisory” commissions – that give 6 figure jobs to termed-out/ un-relected politicians and their cronies. THAT WON’T HAPPEN.
#2 – Reform the pubic-employee pensions? THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN.

All Moonbeam and company have done is cut every place where they know people will feel it; education, prisons, state parks, transportation (except for the most hallowed and sacred “Bullet Train” to nowhere).

GarandFan on February 25, 2012 at 7:21 PM

As California fails, we should expect those that destroyed it to seek refuge in other states, like rats leaving the ship that they gnawed the bottom out of.

slickwillie2001 on February 25, 2012 at 5:09 PM

As California fails, the ba$tards that caused it hopefully will go crawling back to the states they came from. Less than 20 percent of California’s population are natives. The vast majority of California’s residents are from the other states who moved here and then infected California with the socialist mental disorder that they were indoctrinated with in their home states.

SWalker on February 25, 2012 at 7:26 PM

listens2glenn on February 25, 2012 at 3:39 PM

That would be too sweet. All those straight roads running for miles through the desert – it’s a road warrior’s dream.
platypus on February 25, 2012 at 4:15 PM

.
Yeah . . . . . : )

listens2glenn on February 25, 2012 at 6:08 PM

All of those straight roads you dream about, they run through rural California, which is about as conservative as any state gets. Anyone that tries pulling a Mad Max in rural California is going to have more holes in their car than fancy imported Swiss Cheese.

SWalker on February 25, 2012 at 7:30 PM

There are so many freakin government programs for the disadvantaged
there is no excuse for them to wallow in drugs and poverty.
Free housing, medical, food, now cell phones, etc. while they attend college for free to make something of themselves.

I am tired of this mamby pamby bs.

Amjean on February 25, 2012 at 5:47 PM

I think we are pretty much in agreement, if I catch your implied approval of the Section 8 people who became part of the neighborhood. (The Section 8 people who weren’t the druggies and thugs.)

I am happy, proud even, to help those who cannot help themselves (and try); I resent being forced to support those who will not help themselves and only take. (BTW, working to rear children decently to become good citizens who pay their bills counts as trying to help themselves in my book.)

Kevin K. on February 25, 2012 at 7:41 PM

As soon as the republicans get the economy working again, politicians will trot out another scheme to do something no private developer will do because it makes no economic sense. They may float bonds, use eminent domain, or both for a golf course or a stadium. As usual they will under estimate the capital costs and the operating costs while over estimating revenue and taxes generated. Check the record, it happens every time.

dunce on February 25, 2012 at 9:51 PM

Check in to UN Agenda 21. It is interesting that the roots of this diabolical attempt to take away our private property rights are so old.

silvie on February 25, 2012 at 11:53 PM

I have wanted out of California for decades.

I am not a native of the state, and my husband and I are Conservatives. We’ve lived here because this is where his job is. The problem is, we are stuck with a house that we can’t sell. What I would give to move elsewhere, lack of Starbuck’s (which I have never even been in) or any other convenience. It would be Heaven to get out of this place of liberal loons. The last thing I would do would be to vote for any government, State or Federal, to get involved in anything in my life or that of my neighbors’. I’ve had more than enough of it in this place that purports to be a state.

I think most of the good guys have already left. If I ever can, I promise to be a good neighbor and mind my own business. I only wish my neighbors would mind theirs and leave me alone.

hachiban on February 26, 2012 at 1:55 AM

This is a start, but we’re still making State of California agencies pay in advance for their orders: absolutely NO CREDIT for CA (and they seem to expect this treatment these days).

landlines on February 26, 2012 at 2:21 AM

The word is extremis.

rayra on February 26, 2012 at 3:34 AM

You have one factually incorrect statement:
“These agencies got $5 billion per year from the state budget that has been running nearly $30 billion in the red.”

Yes and No. First there are 3 parts the the CA budget which is the general fund, special fund and bond fund. You never hear about the special or bond fund because they never run a deficit because their revenues and spending are based on formulas that are tied together.

Yes this money was in special fund budget because of Prop 13 and state collected some of the local tax revenue and then distributed back to the local governments based on the law, but there is no deficit in this budget. What the democrats have now done is move this money to the general fund budget which is the one running the $30 billion deficit, so no it was never in this part of the “state budget” before.

My issue with the new law was not that it got rid of redevelopment agencies, but that the state stole this local tax revenue from the local governments to add to state general fund instead of giving it to the local government to decide what to do with it.

My other issue with the law was the democrats originally thought they had an out to continue to fund affordable housing agencies with their law because in CA they are all funding by this money and I was hoping they would go away. Luckily the supreme court struck that provision down in its ruling, so CA will soon be without any of these agencies, but the democrats are trying to create a new law and state agency like Arizona has to take them over. If they do this they definitely won’t get all the money they thought they would with this law.

JeffinSac on February 26, 2012 at 11:22 AM

My issue with the new law was not that it got rid of redevelopment agencies, but that the state stole this local tax revenue from the local governments to add to state general fund instead of giving it to the local government to decide what to do with it.

Ahh, that is the reason why they shut down this program. The demorats still want the money coming in for it but don’t want to dole it out for that purpose. Lets just dole it out to the welfare folks to keep them on the dole to keep the demorats in power.

I do hope those that are conservative still living in CA are able to sell and get out to other states like Texas. That way only the liberals and the dependents they have on welfare will be the only people left as it crumbles.

I just hope someday we finally pass a constitutional amendment outlawing welfare and public employees and unions. Only then will we fix this country of ours.

Ronaldusmax on February 26, 2012 at 12:54 PM