Nothing says “government waste” quite so succinctly as California’s Community Redevelopment Authorities. Blogger Mickey Kaus describes them as follows: “hideous eminent domain projects that benefit big developers (and the pols they then support). If there’s a failed liberal Great Society idea, this is it.”
One of Governor Jerry Brown’s best ideas for closing California’s budget gap was his call for the abolition of Community Redevelopment Authorities. He put it to a vote in the California State Assembly.
With one honorable exception, the entire Republican delegation in the California State Assembly rejected the governor’s proposal. Steve Greenhut, who covers these stories better than anyone, fills in the details:
Redevelopment was started in 1945 as a means to upgrade decrepit urban areas, but in the ensuing years the state’s now-nearly 400 active redevelopment agencies have become horrific abusers of eminent domain. They routinely take private property from homeowners and small business owners and give it to developers on the cheap. Redevelopment has become a “tool” by which government agencies grab more tax revenues. They subsidise big-box stores and auto malls — it’s about luring sales taxes, not about upgrading blighted areas. Government officials don’t care whose rights they erode in the process of gaining more money for government.
Gov. Jerry Brown has targeted the agencies because they divert 12 per cent of the state’s property taxes from traditional public services (schools, police, parks and firefighting) to corporate welfare. He figures the state can save about $1.7 billion annually as he seeks to close a gaping $26.6 billion budget hole. This should have been a no-brainer with any Republican with a brain. They proved themselves to be the party of numbskulls.
Redevelopment is about everything Republicans claim to loath: bureaucracy, debt, abuses of property rights, big government, excessive land-use rules, subsidized housing and fiscal irresponsibility. In California cities, redevelopment bureaucrats rule the roost and they leave a path of destruction wherever they go. They bully people and impose enormous burdens on taxpayers. The diversion of tax dollars to welfare queens mandates higher taxes, but the GOP sided with the redevelopment industry. They sided with agencies that run up hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-backed indebtedness. They sided with government-directed stimulus programs, albeit local ones rather than federal ones.
You can read Greenhut’s full report here.
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