Even though I’m a professional planner and am familiar with the gritty details, I find model cities appealing because they allow me to examine a city from angles and perspectives not possible in real life. The idea of building a city comprehensively from scratch is exciting, especially when compared to the incremental, piecemeal, and fragmented approach to planning most of us have grown accustomed to. This sort of fantasy is on full display in Metropolis II, a dynamic kinetic sculpture by artist Chris Burden, currently showing at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Towards the waning moments of yesterday's UCLA Extension Land Use Law and Planning Conference in downtown Los Angeles, I was on the verge of deploying the following tweet via @Cal_Plan:
"Ucla Land Use Law Conf: am in a roomful of lawyers and all seem in accord: no one has voiced support for death of #redevelopment"
This week, as redevelopment agencies were shutting down in observance of yesterday's dissolution deadline, the State Senate approved a bill that would preserve former redevelopment funds that had been dedicated to the provision of affordable housing for low- and moderate-income residents. Senate Bill 654, sponsored by Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), passed on a vote of 34-1. It now advances to the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee and then to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
The California Supreme Court’s decision to strike down AB X1 27 and uphold AB X1 26 set off a frantic timeline by which redevelopment agencies essentially must preside over their own funerals while “successor agencies” take control of their assets and contracts. Since the Dec. 29 court decision, at least one legislative effort -- Senate Bill 659 -- and two lawsuits have tried to delay dissolution, but to no avail.
UPDATE: Friday afternoon Superior Court Judge Lloyd G. Connelly refused to grant a stay against the dissolution of redevelopment, rejecting arguments advanced in two separate suits, led by the cities of Cerritos and Carlsbad. The ruling means that the dissolution of redevelopment will proceed Feb. 1 as ordered by the state Supreme Court.
This week Gov. Jerry Brown announced a draft package of reforms to the California Environmental Quality Act. The reforms are intended to streamline and simplify certain types of urban developments in order to reduce costs and hardship for developers who are pursuing environmentally friendly infill projects.
The reforms, drafted by the Office of Planning and Research, come in accordance with Senate Bill 226 and Assembly Bill 900, both of which were signed into law late last year.
Despite intense lobbying from supporters of redevelopment, Senate Bill 659, sponsored by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles) appears headed for defeat. Senate President Pro Tem Darrel Steinberg (D-Sacramento) yesterday told the Sacramento Bee, "It's not going to happen."
With only a few days to go before the February 1 deadline to dissolve the state's redevelopment agencies, the Department of Finance has published a website describing the dissolution process as mandated by Assembly Bill X1 26. The site is intended to answer a host of questions that have arisen among many agencies and cities throughout the state.
Last week bond rating agency Moody's took California's redevelopment bonds down a notch, and today fellow rating agency Fitch is expressing similiar concerns.
If you listen carefully, you might be able to hear the sounds of hammers in some parts of California. After nearly five long years of recession and stagnation, recent reports indicate that new residential construction may be picking up.
Credit rating agency Moody's Investors Service downgraded by one notch all California tax allocation bonds rated Baa2 and above. Moody's is monitoring all other redevelopment bonds and may issue a downgrade in the future.
Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles) has introduced legislation that could give California's redevelopment agencies if not a reprieve then at least a stay of execution. Senate Bill 659 would push the dissolution date from Feb. 1 to April 15 in order to allow cities and agencies time to put their affairs in order -- and, presumably, to allow the Legislature to deliberate on a replacement for redevelopment before the agencies are dismantled and their employees laid off.
While cities around the state have been, reluctantly, agreeing to serve as undertakers for their respective redevelopment agencies, the Los Angeles City Council indicated this week that the city will not do so.
Two bills have already hit the Legislature that would affect the wind-down of redevelopment:
It’s taken me a few days to absorb the California Supreme Court decision in California Redevelopment Association v. Matosantos, which effectively killed redevelopment in California. Although I was a longtime critic of isolated cases of abuse, it believe it was a huge mistake to relegate the entire institution to the glue factory of failed policies.