There is, perhaps, no place on Earth so supremely well suited for high-speed rail as the leeward side of the island of Formosa. Sheltered from the Pacific winds, all of Taiwan's major cities hug the island's western coastal plain, unbroken by the mountains that characterize the interior. Running in nearly a straight line, the train covers the 214 miles from the Taipei to Zouying in two hours. It now carries 44 million passengers per year.
Over the past year, even the most irate objectors to Gov. Jerry Brown's dismantling of redevelopment held out hope that in agreeing to kill redevelopment, the legislature would invent a new, better system for stoking local economic growth. Last week, the governor dashed those hopes.
California's relentless, ever widening budget deficit has claimed another victim: redevelopment's affordable housing funds.
In releasing his proposed 2012-13 budget last Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown also proposed a major reorganization of state government that would separate transportation and housing at the same time Brown’s policy thrust is intended to link the two closer together.
In particular, Brown has proposed a major restructuring of the Business, Transportation, and Housing (BTH) Agency that would have here parts:
Amid all the debating and litigating around redevelopment's demise, it's sometimes easy to forget what, exactly, Californians are fighting over. But this week's premature release of Gov. Jerry Brown's 2102 budget offers a handy reminder: it's money.
In a hastily called press conference to roll out the 2012-2013 budget on Thursday afternoon, Gov. Jerry Brown said he would consider funding redevelopment only if the Legislature brings him offsetting cuts.
The California Redevelopment Association is seeking legislation that would postpone the elimination of RDAs beyond the February 1 date set by the state Supreme Court last week. In response to a reporter's question about whether Brown would support an extension "for a few months," Brown said:
While the Legislature remains deadlocked on Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal, it seems that what does not kill redevelopment may in fact make it stronger. Many observers had written the obituary for the state's redevelopment system back in March when Brown was insisting that the state had to recoup redevelopment's tax increment in order to help plug its $24 billion deficit.
The wait continues.
Reports indicated that the leadership in both houses would push for a vote on the elimination of redevelopment in today's 9 a.m. floor sessions. The vote on the mirror bills SB 77 and AB 101 has been anticipated for two weeks as Gov. Jerry Brown has attempted to shore up support for his budget package, including some $12 billion in taxes.
Those sessions have come and gone.
The debate over the fate of redevelopment has called into question the usefulness of redevelopment in places such as, say, Coronado or Palm Desert. But there is no doubt that blight still infects large swaths of the state's major cities -- and that those cities are deeply concerned about the fate of their redevelopment agencies.
In response to the release of a draft bill that would make the elimination of redevelopment official, the mayors of the state's nine largest cities today sent a stern letter [.pdf] to Gov. Jerry Brown asking him once again to reconsider his intention to eliminate their redevelopment agencies -- along with nearly 400 others across the state.
California is usually full of surprises. But we at the California Planning & Development Report -- like almost everyone else involved with California land use -- already know what the story of the year is.