It is interesting that conservatives, who normally favor local control, have applauded Brown for pushing the complete dissolution of redevelopment agencies. They have tended to see redevelopment projects – such as the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency’s downtown streetcar project – as taxpayer-financed boondoggles. But if you really want local control, you can’t have it both ways. Local control means that there will be some local decisions you don’t like. And if you don’t like what is going on at the local level, you can use local politics to try and change the situation. Isn’t that Civics 101?
The state Legislature could still rescue redevelopment in some form but, thanks to the imminent dissolution of the local agencies, it can now dictate whatever it wants as the condition of salvation. As might be expected, Sacramento legislators are thinking of requiring local redevelopment activities they would like to see such as affordable housing and various “green” projects. Promoting those activities might be good decisions or bad – but should local redevelopment agendas now be set in Sacramento – the exact opposite of local control and realignment?
Those who prefer local control to centralized regulation from Sacramento may want to rethink their position on redevelopment. And the Legislature and governor would do well to avoid temptation and find a way to resurrect the compromise deal they had in place before the state Supreme Court decision.
Daniel J.B. Mitchell is professor-emeritus at the UCLA Anderson School of Management and UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.