Axing Redevelopment Agencies

Part of Governor Brown's new budget includes proposals to eliminate redevelopment agencies. Many local elected officials are up in arms about this. Personally, I'm a little ambivalent.

On the one hand, of course redeveloping blighted properties is a nice thing. Also, the story alleges that 20% of the tax increment is supposed to go to affordable housing.

But then I wonder: In Rosemead, we have virtually no "affordable housing" other than the senior centers. (Up until about four years ago, I'm pretty sure you could have crossed out the "virtually").

And what business successes have come from the city's redevelopment agency in the past twenty years?

The big "success" of Wal-Mart, I am certain, had no Redevelopment Agency role. I suppose it would have been nice to use redevelopment money to keep those hundreds of jobs at the Sriracha factory, but we didn't, and they're gone.

The only Redevelopment money uses I can think of off hand are the Glendon Inn (to eliminate a blighted, crime-infested property, although it was still a purchase the current majority didn't want to make), the Rosemead Park jogging trail (partially funded by redevelopment funds, which I supported because it improved city facilities, as the redevelopment law envisioned, and which the current majority opposed), and the Rosemead High School track (which I opposed because it was a giveaway to El Monte Union High School District, which has their own taxing and bond-issuing powers, and was not a city facility, although the current majority supported it). The other big giveaway down the road is the Dinsmoor House, which IS slated to get something like $700,000 in redevelopment dollars. It IS a city facility, but doesn't serve any function that couldn't be provided more effectively and more cheaply either at other city facilities or by selling the Dinsmoor property and taking the proceeds to buy a house that isn't falling apart.

I suspect Rosemead is not alone. Most cities don't want "affordable" housing, and aren't willing to spend city dollars to produce it. Also, if all cities are doing the same thing, then we're really not creating new jobs so much as getting some cities into bidding wars against each other for the same pie of commercial development.

I'm willing to be educated, but until someone shows me otherwise, I'm really not feeling like losing city redevelopment agencies is necessarily a bad thing.

There's affordable housing

It's called the run down casita in back, the dingy apartment buildings on (fill street name here), etc. That trailer park that was demolished illegally was affordable.

If you want to see blighted rental properties improve, it's simple: give renters leverage against landlords. Landlords will get bugged to fix things (a good thing), and will raise rents, if possible, to cover those costs.

To be able to rent at a higher price, they will have to spend some money to paint the rental, and maybe do some gardening.

You can probably achieve this with one inspector for every 2000 rentals or so. If the resident won't complain, the inspector will. Rent money is spent on repairs - stimulating the economy.

This sort of affordable

This sort of affordable housing isn't financed by the Redevelopment Agencies. The Agencies have become just another way to funnel money to pet projects.