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Unraveling the redevelopment mess — My Sunday Column for Glendale, Burbank & Pasadena

Sooner or later, the bills come due in all our lives –
even in the lives of government agencies.

Just ask the people who bought a house they couldn’t afford or city officials
who got addicted over the years to draining vast amounts of tax dollars from the
state, from schools, from their own funds for general services to put them in a
kitty called community redevelopment.

What began after World War II as a modest way to
rehabilitate blighted neighborhoods became, after passage of Proposition 13
three decades later, a way for cities and counties to build parks, libraries,
affordable housing, shopping malls, entertainment complexes, luxury condos and
apartments, and a $52-million parking lot for a billionaire’s art museum in
downtown Los Angeles without the annoying problem of having to get two-thirds
of the people to support higher taxes.

All too often, blight came to mean anything officials wanted, an entitlement of
government to do whatever it wanted for whatever reason. Abuses by government
agencies — like seizing one person’s private property to give to another or
massive public subsidies that mainly enriched the rich — became as common as
successes that benefited communities by creating jobs, generating new revenues
or improving the quality of life.  
A year ago, Gov. Jerry Brown sought to put an end to all that by abolishing the
state’s 400 Community Redevelopment Agencies. No sooner did he win the fight to
kill them than the Legislature provided a loophole to allow their resurrection
if they turned over a combined $1.8 billion of their $5 billion in annual tax
revenue to the state this year and a modest $400 million in future years.

Just before Christmas, the state Supreme Court ruled the loophole
unconstitutional and set a Feb. 1 date for the death of the agencies.

Now, Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena and cities across the state want another
replay through legislation that would extend the drop-dead date to April 15 or
maybe next year or maybe never.

The irony of another resurrection of redevelopment agencies on Feb. 2,
Groundhog Day, and the movie of that name in which events replay and replay
over and over with changing scenarios was not lost last week on Glendale’s new
City Manager Scott Ochoa at a teleconference meeting of the San Fernando Valley
Council of Governments.

“Some folks would say good riddance, now we can start all over,” Ochoa told
staff and business leaders in a City Hall conference room last week and city
officials in Los Angeles, Burbank and Santa Clarita listening on phone lines.

“The problem is the dysfunctionality of the state hasn’t been rectified. We are
going to continue to have this problem. It will be like Groundhog Day until all
the money is gone.”

Cities are pulling out all stops to get the Legislature to give them a 10-week
reprieve despite the governor’s adamant opposition and the knowledge that they
will need one reprieve after another to actually work out the complexities of
how redevelopment will work in the future.

(READ FULL STORY at GlendaleNewsPress.com) 

(READ WHAT GLENDALE OFFICIALS ARE SAYING)

(READ JOHN WALSH’S TAKE ON THE DEATH OF THE CRA)

(READ REFORM ABUSES BEFORE REVIVING CRA)

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8 Responses to Unraveling the redevelopment mess — My Sunday Column for Glendale, Burbank & Pasadena

  1. Gov says No -- once again -- to CRA's says:

    SB 659 sought to extend the CRA’s while a new bill was rushed through the legislature to bring the monsters back to life — only bigger, meaner and more dealy.
    On Friday, the Gov said that the CRA funeral should not be postponed, and by Friday night, the word was that the two hencemen of Crony Capitalists, Perez and Padilla, had decided to drop the effort to extend and revive the CRA’s — for this year.
    The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. One can never buy more than a one year reprieve from a corrupt legislature. Hopefully, the intel was accurate and SB 659 is dead, the CRA’s will die on Feb 1 and we will not be bothered until Jan 2013.

  2. Wayne from Encino says:

    CRAs will DIE on feb 1, 2012!!!! Chris Essel will have to find some other Company or Taxpayer fund to “manage.” But don’t worry, the Politician GANGSTAs like Padilla and Garslutti will work every minute of every day to grab YOUR property tax $$$$ and give it away to the BILLIONAIRES who they WORK FOR. On Fri this week, right under all your noses, a 10 YEAR ANNUAL RATE HIKE is going to pass unanimously BARRING A MIRACLE. KABC actually blocked my phone # for the 2nd time in 6 months as they want to make sure to nothing goes wrong with this DWP theft. KABC has Zine and Midget-Englandler and others like Jill Stewart who have never on the air ACKNOWLEDGED this friday vote!!
    We’ll have to see if DWP is going to make a RATE HIKE EXCEPTION FOR “MEDIA OUTLETS?: hmmmm…..??
    Wouldn’t that be interesting?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Ding dong, the witch is dead. Sing it high, sing it low. Ding dong the wicked witch is dead!
    Who is the wicked witch at CRA?
    I guess there will be a celebration at City Hall on February 1st. All of the people trampled and beat down by the CRA have the absolute pleasure of watching the vermin scramble for new jobs.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The City of Glendale is the “Mini-Me” of Los Angeles. They are just much smaller and less sophisticated – More like the Beverly Hillbillies.
    They also have a much smaller project area.
    But they demonstrated how cheap politicians can bought off. They used Eminent Domain to acquire some of the parcels for the Americana at Brand and purchased the rest. Then they GAVE the land to Billionaire Rick Caruso who signed up Glendale for a “profit sharing” plan that didn’t even kick in until about 12% profit. So at least through 2010, Caruso didn’t pay a penny to the taxpayers of Glendale.
    And any increase in property tax dollars (the tax increment) will be siphoned away to repay the Redevelopments bonds (debt) used to acquire the original land.
    So property taxes were diverted so that Caruso could be given a gift of public funds.
    Then, the whole Golden Key Hotel deal would not have even been allowed under the Kelo decision because there was no financial gain for the City.
    Caruso just ended up MOVING Nordstroms one block from its Glendale location. A zero net gain for the taxpayers.
    So Glendale can hold their head high with Los Angeles as great examples of why Redevelopment should have ended 30 years ago.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Redevelopment has a current debt to the tune of $98 billion statewide. Even with the “winding down” of Redevelopment agencies, Californians will be stuck with the bill for over a decade just so some Billionaires could be subsidized by the working and middle class taxpayers.
    Sadly under Redevelopment, all Californians have to make up the shortfall by the “corrupt 400″ Redevelopment agencies.
    If Cities think Redevelopment is so great, then let them fund it with their general funds – cutting police and fire services so that Billionaires such as Rick Caruso and Eli Broad can feed at the public trough.
    James

  6. L.A.'s CRA burden is about $11 BILLION says:

    L.A. burden from the CRA is about $11 Billion — but it could be more since the city council gave away sales taxes in addituional to incremenal property taxes.
    Not only did the CRA steal over $3.5 Billion, it also borrowed $3 Billion with about $4.5 Billion in interest making for about $11 Billion dollars — to give to millionaires and billionaires, while out kids can’t even have a park.

  7. LA's CRA burden is about $11 BILLION says:

    LA’s burden from the CRA is about $11 BILLION.
    $3.5 Billion of stolen proeprty taxes
    $3.0 Billion debt which we have to pay
    $4.5 Billion for interest on the debt
    In addition, the Corrupt City Council gave away sales taxes for many projects like the CRA CIM Midtown project and indirectly we lost millions more for horrid projects where no retail would locate. The city does not earn slaes tax on empty retail spaces.
    Thus, $11 Billion is a reasonable guess of the CRA burden and it was growing by about $1/3 Billion per year.

  8. LA's CRA burden is about $11 BILLION says:

    LA’s burden from the CRA is about $11 BILLION.
    $3.5 Billion of stolen proeprty taxes
    $3.0 Billion debt which we have to pay
    $4.5 Billion for interest on the debt
    In addition, the Corrupt City Council gave away sales taxes for many projects like the CRA CIM Midtown project and indirectly we lost millions more for horrid projects where no retail would locate. The city does not earn slaes tax on empty retail spaces.
    Thus, $11 Billion is a reasonable guess of the CRA burden and it was growing by about $1/3 Billion per year.

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