The holiday season continues to be a cruel time of year for California's redevelopment community. Last year, the state Supreme Court struck a blow on Dec. 29, allowing the state to abolish redevelopment agencies. And this year, on Dec. 18, the state Department of Finance denied funding to many of the 240 of the 400 successor agencies who had appealed earlier rejections. >>read more
West Sacramento has become the first city to emerge unscathed from a redevelopment audit by the State Controller's Office. Meanwhile, the Bay Area city of Hercules finds its asset transfers caught in the crossfire of a variety of other problems, including alleged long-term mismanagement of the redevelopment agency.
When voters in Orange County approved the creation of the 1,300-acre Orange County Great Park out of the shuttered Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, they had every reason to believe the estimated $1.2 billion cost would come, partially, from redevelopment monies. Such was the status quo in 2002.
The next time a Padre hits one out of Petco Park or a tourist orders another round of Pacificos at a bar in the Gaslamp District, many San Diegans will thank the Centre City Development Corporation. If a new plan succeeds, future kudos will go to Civic San Diego.
While most of California's cities undergo the arduous wind-down of their redevelopment agencies, a handful of cities have been going about business as usual. For most of the cities that never had redevelopment agencies, business has been, and probably will continue to be, good. Redevelopment took root in economically disadvantaged places, so the likes of Beverly Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, and Sausalito are carrying on contentedly.
Though most cities maintained full-time redevelopment teams, not all the work was done in-house. That would be hard to do in a $5 billion annual industry, with countless moving parts in hundreds of agencies across the state.
After yesterday's California Supreme Court oral argument in California Redevelopment Association vs. Matosantos – the lawsuit challenging the state's new pay-ransom-or-die redevelopment system – it's still hard to tell where the court will go. But the biggest question that emerged was: What happens it the court upholds AB 1x 26, which abolishes redevelopment, but strikes down AB 1x 27, which permits redevelopment agencies to continue to exist if they pay a "remittance" to the state?
In 2009 the redevelopment agencies of California, represented by the California Redevelopment Association, filed suit to block the state's requisitioning of over $1 billion of tax increment financing. That suit failed.
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.