The constitution mandates that we build highways, but not bike lanes. So says Duncan Hunter, a freshman Republican congressman from suburban San Diego.
I’m not making this up. A short interview with Hunter, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, posted by DC Streetsblog is the talk of the alternative transportation crowd.
"SB: But you’re OK with mandating highways?"
The core of California redevelopment law tells redevelopment agencies what they can fight against – blight – and it enables them to identify project areas in which to do so. Generally, the law does not, however, indicate what blight should be replaced with. As a result, critics have charged that redevelopment often funds vanity projects such as stadiums at the expense of what they consider more socially beneficial developments.
As with so many trends, the use of tax-increment financing for redevelopment began in California. Since being created here in 1952, this vital aspect of redevelopment has spread to 48 other states. And yet if Gov. Jerry Brown’s current budget proposal passes, it may very well die in the state where it was born.
It is not going quietly.
In the two weeks since Brown announced his intention to eliminate redevelopment in California as part of his proposal to cut the state’s $24 billion deficit, what used to be a relatively obscure system intended to eradicate blight has been thrust into tumultuous debate.
What would life be like in California without redevelopment?
An 11-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has thrown out the court’s 2009 decision that invalidated the City of Goleta’s mobile home rent control ordinance. This time, the court ruled the ordinance was not an unconstitutional taking of property because the mobile home park owners who brought the challenge acquired the property long after ordinance was in effect.
The Second District Court of Appeal has upheld a determination by the Department of Industrial Relations that required public improvements in a master planned community project to abide by prevailing wage laws. The court further ruled that Mello-Roos proceeds are “public funds,” and that once a project is deemed a “public work” under the Prevailing Wage Law, all public portions of the project are subject to the law – including those public improvements that are privately financed.
The parts of a Kern county mining project are decidedly not greater than – or a substitute for – the whole, as far as the California Environmental Quality Act is concerned.
The clamp on local governments in California grows only tighter and tighter.
The number and detail of state mandates continues to increase. The ability to raise revenue continues to decrease. The amount of litigation never decreases. Redevelopment is in doubt. Keeping a city or county out of financial or legal trouble seems to get more difficult every year.
Those were the implicit – and sometimes explicit – messages during the UCLA Extension Land Use Law and Planning Conference in Los Angeles last Friday. As always at the conference, expert practitioners and analysts reviewed last year’s lawmaking, rulemaking and courtroom activity, and speculated about the year ahead. It was difficult to detect many rays of light for cities or counties.
While redevelopment might once have been considered a key weapon in the War on Poverty, redevelopment officials now find themselves gearing up for a different kind of battle. They rallied the troops today, laying out a strategy for opposing the elimination of redevelopment in order to help close a $24 billion budget gap.
Even though the recession has brought construction in the Central Valley nearly to a standstill, one of the world’s largest suppliers of building materials appears bullish on the region. Cemex Construction Materials, LP, has proposed an aggregate mine on a 2,036-acre site in Fresno County, inciting protest from both environmentalists and local Native American tribes.