CRAs Stomped on the Little People for Too Long
By ROBERT P. SILVERSTEIN, Pasadena Attorney in Sacramento Bee
Gov. Jerry Brown plans to abolish redevelopment agencies and
redirect the resulting $5 billion in annual savings to support local
education, public safety and other basic services. The panicked reaction
of California redevelopment agencies – so long accustomed to wielding
unchecked power – brings to mind an old “Twilight Zone” episode.
the 1962 episode “The Little People,” two astronauts crash land on a
planet. One of them is a power-hungry malcontent. Wandering about, he
discovers a race of tiny people. He sets himself up as a god and
terrorizes them, literally grinding them into the dirt. This continues
until one day, the roar of a space ship is heard. A giant astronaut from
another planet appears. He towers over the malcontent just as the
malcontent had towered over the little people. The giant picks up the
malcontent and accidentally crushes him, unknowingly freeing the little
people in the process.
The same drama is happening with Brown,
redevelopment agencies and us, the little people. For years,
redevelopment agencies have abused the power of eminent domain to grind
down the little people. Now Brown may crush the agencies, liberating us
in the process.
Although elimination of “urban blight” achieved some early
successes, redevelopment today has mostly devolved into an outlandish
misuse of government power. And when eminent domain is used to forcibly
take private property, redevelopment shows its cruelest face. Many
people don’t know that redevelopment agencies take more than vacant lots
or empty buildings. They also take ongoing, successful businesses.
CRAs Rush to Take on Huge Debt to Shield Property Tax Dollars
ROBERT LEWIS, Sacramento Bee
Local redevelopment agencies have pushed through nearly $690
million in bonds sales during the first two months of this year –
that’s more than half of the $1.2 billion in debt those agencies took on
in all of 2010, according to figures the state treasurer’s office
Furthermore, given the shaky market, local governments are borrowing money at high rates — increasing the amount of property tax revenue that will go to lenders, said Tom Dresslar, a treasury department spokesman.
“They’re flooding the market with these bonds at a time when the market sucks from an issuer’s perspective,” Dresslar said.
The rush to take on debt comes as Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing to
eliminate redevelopment agencies in an effort to help balance the
budget. The finance department estimates such a cut would close $1.7
billion of the state’s $26.6 billion deficit.
Cities Shift Property Tax Dollars to Foil Brown’s Budget Plan
By ROBERT LEWIS, Sacramento Bee
Local government leaders across California are hurriedly
shifting redevelopment agency properties and money into city coffers
ahead of a possible state move to abolish redevelopment and redistribute
It’s unclear if such maneuvers will work. Gov.
Jerry Brown’s proposed budget also contains language allowing some of
the transfers to be reversed or at the least wind up in court.
“This is going to be lawyers’ delight,” said John Shirey, executive director of the California Redevelopment Association.
Among the moves this week:
• Sacramento city officials
approved the transfer of $1.4 million in redevelopment money to the city
for a museum project and a promenade along the river.
• The city
of Los Angeles passed a series of measures aimed at tying up $1 billion
in redevelopment funds in contracts, projects and loans.
city of Santa Clara transferred $205 million plus 178 acres of property
from its redevelopment agency to other local entities, including the
authority working on a new stadium for the 49ers.
• Alameda County
transferred 11 properties from its agency to the county and tied up
$61.5 million in redevelopment funds through loans, contracts and