The Social Justice Opportunity of the Century

Much to the surprise of all of us, the new governor of California, Jerry Brown, has proposed shutting down all redevelopment agencies in the state.  The reason for this is that a city (or probably a county, where a county rules directly) has had the right to declare an area a “redevelopment area” and then the portion of the property tax that goes to the county, government schools, or whatever else is frozen.  And if there is any increase in the value of the property thereafter, the extra tax revenue goes to a “redevelopment agency “ usually controlled by the city, which then provides corporate welfare for developers and other political favorites.  Redevelopment has gotten some notoriety because it has been ruled that cities can define “blight” or “economic advantage” as they choose and take property by eminent domain to resell to whoever the government imagines will do the most desirable thing with the property, often, again, a political favorite.

My politicization began when they forced out the Orange County Rescue Mission in Santa Ana in the way I have said.  But they do not always do this, and the cash slush fund operates as I have described in any case. Here we have a chance to get rid of “redevelopment” altogether – a rare opportunity indeed, because the special interests that benefit from it are many! And they will not lie down or go away easily.

According to Dan Walters, the same proposal does away with enterprise zones, which have often not helped the true small entrepreneur, but once again the politically connected who can “qualify.”

I would like to see there still be a vehicle for doing some of the cute but low impact things like gas lamps, brick sidewalks, etc., etc.  I think there is a thing called the Business Improvement District that can be used for that.  An assessment district is set up for local businesses and the assessments pay for these little improvements.  If Proposition 13 forbids this, it should be modified.

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