Update on California Redevelopment Agencies

Fri, 07/01/2011 (All day)

Westlake TheatreTwo bills in the California assembly, AB1-26 and AB1-27, propose to eliminate redevelopment agencies unless they contribute a total of $1.7 billion in tax money generated by new developments to the state, to be used for schools and public safety. Governor Jerry Brown has been a proponent for dismantling the state's roughly 400 local redevelopment agencies, citing examples of mismanagement of redevelopment funding. 

CRA/LA, the largest of several redevelopment agencies serving the Los Angeles County region, has released a comprehensive Response to the State Plan available for download at www.crala.org.  Their Value of Redevelopment document outlines $6 billion in incremental value brought into the City through investments and economic development projects, and notes that elimination of the department will potentially take away 74,000 construction jobs and 40,000 permanent jobs. 

Among the At-Risk Development Projects in CRA/LA's report are the rehabilitation of the historic Westlake Theatre, the development of the Noho Senior Arts Colony, construction of the Wattstar Theater in South Los Angeles, the Chinatown Cultural Capital Plan, adaptive reuse of the Reseda Theatre, and development of artist housing across the street from the Metro Gold Line Mariachi Station.  According to the CRA/LA, these projects are currently 'in the pipeline' and would be endangered by the Governor's plan, which would require CRA/LA to contribute 70% of funds normally spent in Los Angeles to the state government (approximately $88 million in 2011/2012).

The California Redevelopment Association is challenging the legality of both bills.  In fall 2010, California voters approved Proposition 22, which prevents the state from appropriating funds intended for local transportation, development or government.  They have created an advocacy action center and are encouraging supporters of redevelopment agencies to contact their legislators and voice opposition to AB1-26 and AB1-27.  A June 30th Sacramento Bee article quotes Chris McKenzie, president of the League of California Cities: "We’re deeply disappointed that the governor has joined the Legislature in blatantly violating the California Constitution because it was just seven months ago that the voters of California said that redevelopment funds should be spent for redevelopment and not diverted by the state for other purposes" (click here to read the full article).