Court Kills Redevelopment: Stories from across the state

Tony Manolatos Tony Manolatos 14 Comments



The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday morning that the state can eliminate local redevelopment agencies that subsidize construction projects in cities across California.

The ruling is a huge win for Gov. Jerry Brown and Sacramento lawmakers who axed redevelopment in June as part of an effort to close a multi-billion dollar state budget deficit. On the other end of spectrum: cities like San Diego that were counting on redevelopment dollars to help pay for a range of projects, including a new stadium for the San Diego Chargers.

The court’s decision drew swift reaction from politicians, pundits and members of the media. Here are links to some of the stories from across San Diego and elsewhere:


Comments 14

  1. The Court didn’t kill Redevelopment; the Assembly, State Senate and the Governor did that. All the Court did was re-affirm the legislative branch’s (with the Governor’s approval) right to establish and abolish public agencies.

  2. I read a recent comment on this blog: “When involved in a traffic accident, there is the doctrine of ‘last clear chance’ that determines who is most responsible.”

    Some would say the court is responsible. But, Alger is technically correct. In this case, the court wasn’t ruling on the merits or even legality of redevelopment, it was ruling on whether the legislature and governor had the authority to disband redevelopment agencies.

  3. Barry,

    It is the Governor’s responsibility (last clear chance) to veto portions of the budget that he does not agree with. On the other hand, it is not the Court’s responsibility to substitute its judgement for that of the Legislature. I hope we can all agree that a judiciary that does more than rule on the Constitutionality of legislation is a dangerous judiciary, even when we don’t agree with the legislation in question.

  4. Yes, Alger, agreed. Yet, many cities, mayors and councilmembers were pinning their hopes on the court being the last clear chance. The separation of powers, however, makes it crystal clear the court doesn’t (uhhh…shouldn’t) make legislative decisions. The court ruled that the decision was indeed a legislative (followed by an executive) responsibility.

  5. I honestly don’t follow.

    I am not an expert on this subject and would invite anyone to clarify where I am wrong, but the Redevelopment Agencies and the process seems very big government to me. Aren’t most of what they do public/private partnerships? Like building parking lots for condos and apparently possibly a stadium for the Chargers? Aren’t we better served taking these funds and trying to do something about our massive deficit rather than helping out the private sector? Aren’t we the side who believes in free markets and letting the private sector make things better without government interference?

    I feel like I am missing something.

  6. Michael, please clarify what you are missing. Are you referring to Faulconer’s and Dumanis’ posts? You are the first besides they are to weigh in here on the issue from a “whether it’s good public policy” standpoint. Tony posted various links to the news and Alger and Barry having been discussing the court decision from a legal standpoint. It could be our readers agree with you. What say all of you? Does redevelopment fly in the face of the free market?

  7. I think sending all our tax dollars to Sacramento and having to beg for pennies back is the biggest problem. At least redevelopment let us keep our money in San Diego.

  8. Michael A. Schwartz:

    No, you have it right. There are some very good people who get sidetracked with “It is to big to fail because it is local and our thing.” Sacramento has pulled a raid and the Supreme Court says the raid is legal. Now is an opportunity to let free markets work and begin to put a nail in the crony capitalism coffin. Let the privates who want to get their hands on local tax dollars advocate local tax measures legislatively or ballot-wise and see if the voters affirm them or stare them down. At least it would be up front.

    As for Sacramento, let the Leviathan spenders of other peoples money default. Not one more penny for their insatiable avaricious appetites.

  9. Michael says, “Aren’t we the side who believes in free markets and letting the private sector make things better without government interference?”

    Mole responds, “let free markets work and begin to put a nail in the crony capitalism coffin.”

    Sounds great, but do we really believe that the free market, devoid of all government interference or assistance, would have provided all that makes San Diego great? In other words, would everything that makes our lives better really have penciled out in a subsidy-free world and therefore would any of it have been built if the motive was simply private-sector profit?

    Would we have Balboa Park, Mission Bay, Horton Plaza, The Gaslamp District, etc. were it not for government subsidies? Would we have professional sports teams or even collegiate sports teams were it not for “crony capitalism?”

    It is easy to rail against perceived corruption, but before we put “the final nail in that coffin,” I encourage us to be careful of what we ask for.

  10. Would we have massive debt, a massive deficit, and massive unemployment had we just let the private sector succeed or fail on its own and stop subsidizing them with tax funds?

    It is easy to rail against all of this because we are right, Alger.

    I read Mr. Faulconer’s post and he seems all in favor of the Redevelopment Agencies. I did not read Ms. Dumanis’ post because I am not really interested in her progressive, big government views on anything, frankly. It seems like many local Republicans are on the side of the Redevelopment Agencies, but no part of this seems very Republican.

    So there are a few parts here.
    1. San Diego tax money goes up to Sacramento and then they send it to Redevelopment Agencies who work with local municipalities to do a variety of projects including many private/public construction projects. How can we support any part of this process and still be the party of limited government and free markets? We are Chinese loans away from being Obamanomics.
    2. The legislature came up with these agencies and now that the state is in dire need of revenue to cover the ridiculous spending the Democrats refuse to cut, they are going to do away with the agencies. Which, if you read the letter of the law, they are able to do since they created them, but many Republicans seemed to be hoping this panel of judges would rule against the legislature because the Redevelopment Agencies “create jobs”? How can we support this part and be the party that is against activist judges and government stimulus packages?
    3. From the agencies the city would get a large chunk of money that they could spend on fixing potholes and sewer lines and free them up to spend other money on the big daddy of all public/private partnerships: a downtown Chargers stadium. San Diego is on the brink of bankruptcy and they want to spend hundreds of millions to supplement a business that makes billions in profit every year and there are Republicans who not only think this is a good idea, they described it as “an opportunity”?

    If you want to attack this thing, attack the fact that Sacramento has to take so much money out of the private sector, job-creators and are still running a deficit.

    I spoke to Assemblyman Fletcher about this a few months back. After he deleted my post on his Facebook page asking him why these Redevelopment Agencies were a good idea, he told me on the phone that fundamentally the public/private partnerships weren’t something he supported, but he wanted to keep the tax money in San Diego rather than Sacramento. (I am paraphrasing) Personally, I would rather keep the tax money in the pockets of the people who had to pay those taxes, but Assemblyman Fletcher is doing the best he can with the leftists he has to work with up in Sacramento. I get that. However, he said that there is no way this is an end-around play to build the Chargers a stadium and then use the new stadium as a feather in his cap when he ran for mayor. But then the next morning I saw Mr. Fletcher on the news with Mayor Sanders celebrating the new funds that the city will have to build a new stadium for the Chargers. Uh…’scuse me?

    My questions are broad for a post that was only on the court’s decision, but none of this is making any sense. I don’t know who or what to cheer for here. I appreciate Mole’s remarks, but it boils down to either I am wrong and missing something or we need to get back to fundamentals, folks.

    Happy New Year!

  11. Congressman Bob Filner on KUSI this morning has a different take then the 3 Republican candidates for Mayor.

    p.s. All property taxes including the former Redevelopment Agency (RDA) Tax Increment (TI) stay local per the California Constitution. The only thing that will change is the formula for dividing the $174 million in Tax Increment between the City, County, and local schools.

  12. The one possible good solution to this redevelopment mess is not gonna happen — lower the taxes! Instead we are shifting taxpayer money from one central planning agency to another.

    On balance, I’ll reluctantly favor this switch, as these mushrooming redevelopment fiefdoms too often ride roughshod over local property rights. All the good redevelopment supposedly does is based on the false premise that, without redevelopment agencies, ZERO property improvement would occur in a district boundary.

    As to affordable housing, redevelopment agencies have an abysmal record of poorly utilizing taxpayer dollars to provide such shelter. We pay FAR more when the “affordable” housing bureaucrats and their rules get involved in the building process — sometimes double or even triple the cost of equivalent privately built housing.

    And why should the poor get new housing? Why not buy up EXISTING basic housing units for the poor, for FAR less cost per apartment? Fred Schnaubelt has written extensively on this difference locally.

    It is amusing that many Republicans who rail against national central planning LOVE local central planning. Naturally, part of the problem is the lucrative crony capitalism that feathers the nests of some of these wingless RINO’s.

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