As California lawmakers battle over how to close the state’s huge budget deficit, the fate of redevelopment agencies hangs in the balance. Local government officials are desperately lobbying state lawmakers to keep redevelopment agencies alive, pointing to all sorts of fabulous “development” that would not have been possible without the agencies.
But, as Steven Greenhut explains in this article in City Journal, redevelopment agencies are not as wonderful as local bureaucrats would have you believe.
“In theory, RDAs spearhead blight removal. In fact, they divert billions of dollars from traditional services, such as schools, parks, and firefighting; use eminent domain to seize property for favored developers; and run up California’s debt to pay those developers to construct projects of dubious public value, such as stadiums and big-box stores. Most Californians have long been unaware that these agencies exist. As the activist group Municipal Officials for Redevelopment Reform puts it, RDAs constitute an ‘unknown government’ that ‘consumes 12 percent of all property taxes statewide,’ is ‘supported by a powerful Sacramento lobby,’ and is ‘backed by an army of lawyers, consultants, bond brokers and land developers.’”