The California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights, which praised Brown’s previous effort to abolish redevelopment agencies in California, is hoping to block a trio of redevelopment bills – SB 628, AB 2280, and AB 229. The legislative package, property rights advocates fear, would bring back redevelopment’s worst components: eminent domain abuses and taxpayer-funded corporate handouts.
“Since redevelopment’s abolishment in 2011, the Redevelopment Lobby has been advocating for a replacement that would bring politically connected developers back to the public money trough,” said Nick Mirman, a grassroots activist with the Alliance. “If signed, these redevelopment bills will invite a return to the era of rampant eminent domain abuse and corporate welfare.”
The radio ads began running in Los Angeles, Bay Area and Sacramento media markets on Thursday.
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association: Redevelopment 2.0
SB 628, authored by Senator Jim Beall, D-San Jose, would resurrect redevelopment agencies under a new name, “Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts.” According to Greenhut, “It passed by one vote in the Senate, with that coming from Senate Republican leader Bob Huff, whose wife has worked for one of the bill’s prominent supporters (City of Industry’s Ed Roski, who is pursing an NFL stadium there).”
“Redevelopment offered wide latitude to publicly fund private development projects — and this bill could make it even wider,” Greenhut argues. “Redevelopment revivalists have promoted the use of Infrastructure Financing Districts as a partial replacement for the defunct agencies. This bill that puts those districts on steroids.”
Greenhut isn’t alone in his concern about the return of California’s abusive redevelopment agencies.
“It’s Redevelopment 2.0 without any protections whatsoever,” David Wolfe, legislative director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, explained earlier this month. “This makes it far too easy to use eminent domain to abuse taxpayers by taking private property for a private use.”
AB 2280: Community Revitalization and Investment Authority
Assembly Bill 2280, by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, would give local governments the power to create a “Community Revitalization and Investment Authority in a disadvantaged community to fund specified activities.” The bill’s author has acknowledged that the program is redevelopment by a new name.
“If signed by the governor, AB 2280 will partially fill the gap left after the dissolution of redevelopment agencies, and give cities and counties a way to revitalize crumbling neighborhoods and commercial areas,” Alejo wrote in an oped piece at the Monterey Herald. “Most importantly, AB 2280 will return redevelopment to its original purpose: lifting up rural, disadvantaged communities and urban neighborhoods.”
AB 229: Infrastructure and Revitalization Financing Districts
AB 229, authored by Assemblyman John A. Perez, D-Los Angeles, would create Infrastructure and Revitalization Financing Districts, or IRFD, to revive old military bases.
The California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights contends that “IRFDs will have all the unchecked powers granted to Redevelopment Agencies, including the unrestricted power of eminent domain to forcibly seize homes and small businesses on behalf of politically connected developers.”
That’s supported by the influential taxpayer group, CalTax. According to a legislative analysis, CalTax is opposed to AB 229, arguing that the Legislature “should continue winding down redevelopment agencies…once this is done, a more thoughtful approach should be considered that maintains budget savings associated with the elimination of these agencies.”
Why are redevelopment agencies bad?
Redevelopment agencies which promise to revive blighted areas, have a long history of abusing property rights and granting sweetheart deals to developers. The best example of redevelopment’s failings is the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Kelo v. City of New London, which allowed redevelopment agencies to seize private property in the name of “economic development.”
In Kelo v. City of New London, the court allowed the city to seize the homes and property of Susette Kelo and her neighbors in order to provide a corporate welfare package to the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Inc.
“While Ms. Kelo and her neighbors lost their homes, the city and the state spent some $78 million to bulldoze private property for high-end condos and other ‘desirable’ elements,” the Wall Street Journal observed in 2009. “Instead, the wrecked and condemned neighborhood still stands vacant, without any of the touted tax benefits or job creation.”
Nearly a decade after “the most universally loathed Supreme Court ruling of the new millennium,“ the City of New London’s redevelopment plan has proven to be an unmitigated disaster. Pfizer, the corporate beneficiary of the redevelopment plan and supposed job creator, left town in 2009.
“The homeowners were dispossessed for nothing,” writes the Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby. “Fort Trumbull was never redeveloped. Pfizer itself bailed out of New London in 2009. Kelo was a disaster, as even the city’s present political leaders acknowledge.”
“The nationwide outrage that followed in the wake of the Kelo decision spanned from left to right and back again on the political spectrum,” The Weekly Standard Charlotte Allen wrote earlier this year.
Similar Kelo-style abuses in California
Before they were abolished in 2011, California’s redevelopment agencies were no better than those in New London, Connecticut.
“California’s redevelopment agencies are some of the worst perpetrators of eminent domain abuse in the nation,” said Christina Walsh of the Institute for Justice in 2011. “Until state legislators abolish these agencies, no private property owner in California is safe.”
Radio Ad: “They’re Back”
The text of the radio ad, which started running in the Los Angeles, Bay Area and Sacramento media markets today, is below:
Woman: They’re baaaaaaccccckkkkkk.
Man: What? Who’s back?
Woman: Remember a few years ago, when Governor Brown stood up to the special interest groups and got rid of the redevelopment agencies?
Man: I remember that – BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN secret government slush funds that were going to big developers. They were taking private property away from citizens, small businesses, even non-profits, to give to their developer friends … BUT didn’t Governor Brown put redevelopment agencies out of business?
Woman: Looks like these same special interest ghosts are back again under different names. They got three new bills created in late-night, backroom deal-making.
Man: Typical politicians and their backroom deals.
Woman: If these 3 bills pass, big developers will be able to seize private property again and get taxpayer dollars.
Man: Tax money to developers. No wonder our schools and roads are in such bad shape.
Announcer: Please call Governor Brown’s office today and ask him to stand up again for property rights by VETOING the three redevelopment agency bills.
His office number is (916) 445-2841, again – that’s (916) 445-2841.
Cross-posted at CalNewsroom.