The Governor’s proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies has presented an opportunity to discuss the important activities of Redevelopment Agencies that are very much intermingled with core planning functions and goals. These key planning functions and goals need to be protected and are vital to redevelopment even if the financing mechanisms change.

Redevelopment Agencies, with the 20% set-aside funds and other regulations related to affordable housing, provide an important tool to assist local agencies in the establishment of affordable housing. Planning housing for all Californians is a significant issue identified in the Plan California (See Issue 4). While not perfect, the housing programs that are implemented and funded by Redevelopment Agencies are an important and rare tool that would be compromised or lost if Agencies are disbanded. Further, Redevelopment Plans must be consistent with general plans, and provide funding mechanisms to speed general plan implementation and the infrastructure needed to support the contemplated uses as well as infill development that is a key goal of SB 375. This is consistent with Plan California Issue Areas 2 (Infrastructure) and 3 (Smart Planning and Regional Vision). In addition, Redevelopment Agencies throughout the state employ and contract with planning professionals — retaining Redevelopment Agencies is an important way to maintain employment opportunities for the many planners in California.

Regardless of the benefits of redevelopment in California, there are examples of redevelopment gone wrong, including but not limited to proposals to establish redevelopment project areas that do not meet the statutory requirements for blight and urbanization, or failure to appropriately spend the 20% affordable housing set-aside dollars. The need for the state to backfill funding to counties and schools also must be reviewed. However, while there is room for meaningful reform of redevelopment, wholesale elimination of redevelopment agencies’ important functions would throw out the good with the bad, which is ill advised as California struggles to recover from the current economic downturn.

APA CA Policy Statement:

The California Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA CA) supports the use of redevelopment in California. Redevelopment builds and improves communities, provides tools to more quickly implement general plans, spurs job growth and taxes and is a significant provider of infrastructure, urban development and affordable housing in the state. The elimination of the redevelopment tool without the creation of alternative methods for local agencies to use to address the issues of infrastructure, renovation of blighted areas, economic development and the development of affordable housing is shortsighted. While APA CA recognizes the challenges of the State’s budget are substantial, in this tumultuous time, eliminating important redevelopment tools without the development of alternate regulatory and financing tools for local agencies to use in their place will make it even harder for local agencies to address California’s critical planning, affordable housing, SB 375 and economic development goals.

For these reasons, APA CA desires to work with the Governor and the Legislature to find alternate reforms that would retain the core functions of redevelopment agencies and help address the critical budget deficit. APA CA believes it is vital to find alternative methods to retain the basic functions of redevelopment prior to any action to simply eliminate redevelopment agencies.