Notes From Babel

Archive for the ‘Redevelopment Law’ Category

Jerry Brown takes aim at RDAs and Prop 13

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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