Big win for Gov. Jerry Brown, who sought to shave $1.7 billion from the state budget by abolishing more than 400 redevelopment agencies. It's also a big loss for municipalities that had come to rely on the funding for a variety of projects - some good ones and a lot of questionable ones. The court ruled that effectively eliminating redevelopment was "a proper exercise of the legislative power vested in the Legislature by the state Constitution." When Brown proposed to kill the redevelopment program, there was such an outcry that legislators offered legislation that would have allowed some agencies to survive - provided that they shared their property tax revenue. But the court said that measure was invalid. The case was fast-tracked so that a decision could be reached before Brown presents his new budget. From the LAT:
Redevelopment proponents say they have created jobs and bustling neighborhoods. Critics contend they have starved schools and the state of scarce tax revenue and in some cases invested the public's money foolishly. Redevelopment agencies became fodder in the budget battle because their growth has led to their control of a larger percentage of tax revenue.
Just to remind you what a sham these projects can be, L.A.'s Community Redevelopment Agency set aside $52 million for a garage for Eli Broad's museum - a strange selection considering that redevelopment dollars are supposed to be spent to fight poverty and blight. From the LA Weekly:
All of South Los Angeles, population 550,000, where unemployment among young minorities is said to exceed 30 percent, would get just $32 million from the CRA -- $20 million less than Broad would get for his garage. More than $1 in every $10 of the nearly $1 billion in "redevelopment" money controlled by Los Angeles is to be spent in pursuit of Eli Broad's dream of glitzing up the Civic Center's Grand Avenue area (which is neither poor or blighted) with luxury condos, a luxury hotel, and his architecturally stunning museum. Watts, devastated by the recession, would get only $5.5 million from the CRA, compared to $102 million for the Grand Avenue luxury project and Broad's museum.
Two words for the CRA: Good riddance.
*Here's the decision, via Capitol Alert.