NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Redevelopment Agencies

May 25, 2011

In Sacramento, California Governor Jerry Brown is planning to close the state's $26.6 billion structural deficit through spending cuts and tax extensions.  But one item of Brown's plan -- something that would save about $1.7 billion annually -- has generated heated debates between local officials and the new administration.  The governor has proposed eliminating California's approximately 400 redevelopment agencies (RDAs), says Steven Greenhut, director of the Pacific Research Institute's Journalism Center in Sacramento.

  • In theory, RDAs spearhead blight removal.
  • In fact, they divert billions of dollars from traditional services, such as schools, parks and firefighting; use eminent domain to seize property for favored developers; and run up California's debt to pay those developers to construct projects of dubious public value, such as stadiums and big-box stores.

RDAs constitute an "unknown government" that "consumes 12 percent of all property taxes statewide," is "supported by a powerful Sacramento lobby," and is "backed by an army of lawyers, consultants, bond brokers and land developers," according to the activist group Municipal Officials for Redevelopment Reform.

It's high time that the agencies were shut down.  What remains to be seen is whether the California State Assembly, which didn't approve Brown's proposal in March, will ever see reason, says Geenhut.

Source: Steven Greenhut, "California's Secret Government," City Journal, Spring 2011.

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