Notes From Babel

Jerry Brown takes aim at RDAs and Prop 13

with 5 comments

The Sacramento Bee reports that Gov. Jerry Brown is thinking about dismantling California’s redevelopment agencies.  While in law school, I published an article in the Albany Law Environmental Outlook Journal about California redevelopment law, the perverse incentives it creates for local RDAs, and the toll they take on our neighborhoods and budgets.  In particular, RDAs play fast and loose with “blight” determinations to get their hands on tax increment revenues that might otherwise flow to local school districts.  RDAs provide little voter participation and arguably constitute an improper delegation of legislative power.  And they cost over a half a billion dollars annually in administration alone.

California redevelopment law also provides RDAs incentive to redevelop areas irrespective of the likelihood that development might have been initiated by private enterprise.  In fact, it may be argued that the tax increment financing structure incentivizes RDAs to redevelop those areas most susceptible to private development, since these projects would have the highest likelihood and highest rate of return.  Yet, if RDAs are necessary, it is to ameliorate those areas that have the lowest likelihood of attracting private development.

I’m interested in seeing the arguments develop, but my instinct is to favor the proposal.

Also today I read that Brown is already addressing the splash damage of Prop 13 and the centralization of power in Sacramento that it created.  (As FlashReport notes, the media is spinning this as an attack on Prop 13, but this misstates what Brown has actually said.)  Not that this was unexpected, but he’s sure come out of the gate with guns blazing.  I’ll say this:  It’s going to be an interesting four years.


Written by Tim Kowal

January 4, 2011 at 11:13 pm

5 Responses

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  1. The time is long overdue for RDA’s to cease existence, they have been abysmal failures and the abuse of funds and the power that follows has wreaked havoc in too many cities.

    As for Prop 13…that will be a good fight and will, once again, wake the sleeping dragon…

    Kathi Kowal

    January 5, 2011 at 11:44 am

  2. OT- but that pic of Jerry Brown sort of looks like Clarence from ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’.

    Andi HK

    January 5, 2011 at 1:55 pm

  3. Jerry Brown is definitely the interesting character. At once, I am drawn to his seeming libertarian and decentralizing tendencies, and also repulsed by the tendency for cronyism and such. It’ll be interesting to see what happens over the next few years, especially with a Democratic majority in the state legislature.

    Aaron W

    January 9, 2011 at 5:20 am

  4. I can’t honestly say I believed Whitman would have done much good. I am mostly concerned about Brown’s cronyism, and I sympathize with this post by Jon Fleischman—so long as we’re going to have such a partisan Governor now with respect to appointments, it would have been nice for Republicans to have that in Schwarzenegger; yet, his appointments were split right down the middle between D’s and R’s.

    Like you, Aaron, I’m kind of excited to see how he stirs things up in other respects. Pessimistic as it sounds, it’s hard to imagine him doing much more harm to California than what’s already been done.

    Tim Kowal

    January 9, 2011 at 12:51 pm

  5. Great Job Jerry!!!

    Three Million of Tax payor money was given away for the cost of a dollar in the city of Poway to help a Toyota dealership that exposed employees to Toxic mold and has many of them on State disability after allowing them to work in a previously closed building.


    January 10, 2011 at 10:13 am

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