As San Jose city officials scramble to convince Governor Brown to not shut down its redevelopment agency, more and more information is coming to the public’s attention that speak to the value and effectiveness of the redevelopment system. San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders offered the following argument in a recent column, “The Future Of California-Jerry Brown Takes On The Redevelopment Agencies.”
“When Democratic Governor Jerry Brown was mayor of Oakland, he was a big redevelopment booster. Now that he’s governor…(he’s) proposing steering $1.7 billion away from redevelopment’s agencies and into schools, counties, and the state…as Brown told the League of California Cities last week, when he was mayor, he ‘liked redevelopment. I didn’t quite understand it. It seemed kind of magical. It was the money that you could spend on stuff that they wouldn’t otherwise let you spend.’”
“Translation: The system rewards local pols whether they spend the money wisely or not. While boosters say that redevelopment fosters economic growth, the nonpartisan Legislative Analysts’ Office recently reported, ‘We find no reliable evidence that this program improves overall economic development in California.’”
On the San Jose front, The Mercury News recently ran a front page story, “San Jose agency likely on last legs.” “Former San Jose City Manager Les White agrees that some redevelopment projects in San Jose have “gone too far and too long.” “‘There were some smaller project areas that could have been closed down to show good intent, to show that the redevelopment agency doesn’t need to go on forever,’ he said.” Good intent?
Here’s another gem from County Assessor Larry Stone. “Stone agrees with those who say San Jose’s agency has sometimes abused its role-particularly when it declared wide swaths of agricultural land along North First Street blighted, then snatched tax revenues as the area developed to subsidize downtown. But he said, there is a way to amend redevelopment agencies “to make sure they do what they said they would do.”
Brown admits to not “understanding” redevelopment….White says that redevelopment went “too far and too long,” and Stone agrees that redevelopment “abused” its role. Why aren’t there any consequences for all of this? Why aren’t any political leaders being held to account?