4:56 p.m., Jan. 16
Supreme Court Knocks Out Redevelopment Agencies
The California Supreme Court today (Dec. 29) gave a knockout punch to redevelopment agencies in a long-awaited decision. The court also knocked out a compromise measure that would have permitted agencies to continue operating if they shared some revenues with schools and special districts. "The court gave the worst preferred outcome for the redevelopment agencies," says Vlad Kogan, PhD candidate in political science at the University of California San Diego. The agencies wanted to knock down both the law abolishing agencies and the compromise measure. The court said the compromise measure was not constitutional.
Unless the state passes some measure that would bypass the court's decision, San Diego County should at least initially be spared two potentially bankruptcy-inducing projects: the massive subsidization of a downtown stadium for the Chargers and a AAA baseball park for Escondido. "It's not clear how much wiggle room the state has" to overturn the decision, says Kogan.
Christopher Sutton, Pasadena attorney and longtime foe of redevelopment, exults, "This is a grand slam home run." The court's decision, more than 80 pages,"is a great textbook on what has gone wrong in the state. I am extremely happy, but I am worried that the legislature will try to pull the rug out from under this in some manner. The governor will be the dike against the flood. This gives him what he wanted in January."
Mike Aguirre, former city attorney, says the decision reverses decades of ugly, greedy history. "When you look over the long, tortured path of redevelopment law, it started as a worthy goal [after World War II], but was hijacked by concentrated corporate power players and turned into a money machine for them. It builds houses that nobody can afford [despite the mandate to create affordable housing]. Redevelopment was to create prosperity for the inner city and it has been used to create great profits for those who are well-heeled."