Plaid Revolution: Citizens Celebrate Death of Redevelopment

"Free at last!" exclaimed a Los Angeles gadfly as victims of eminent domain flocked into L.A. City Hall to celebrate the abolition of California’s redevelopment agencies. 

Today is VR day, the date on which the Golden State’s more than 400 redevelopment agencies must dissolve themselves. In Los Angeles, the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA/LA) will lay off 192 employees, leaving behind nothing but destruction, wasteland, and bad debt

Many cities are in even worse shape than L.A. Today the East Bay town of Hercules went belly up on a $2.4 million redevelopment bond

But the demonstration in downtown L.A. – at a city hall now surrounded by chain link fence and dead grass after the police crackdown against Occupy L.A. – rocked a place redevelopers all over Southern California once looked to for inspiration. Throughout the 1960s, Downtown L.A. was razed. Over the subsequent decades, the vacant land created by uprooting 20,000 residences and many more businesses was rebuilt with large buildings, which now suffer from double-digit vacancy rates. In the county, only the city of Glendale, which was similarly favored by an expensive redevelopment of its center, suffers more vacancies than Downtown L.A. 

Prior to today’s City Council session, local activists, cranks and victims of the CRA held a press conference in the rotunda. In attendance was Gordon Pattison, whose residence – a palatial Victorian on the now-defunct Bunker Hill Ave. that Pattison’s family owned as a combination family home and rental property – was among the last houses destroyed to make way for what is now the interior of a Wells Fargo skyscraper. 

The press conference and subsequent speeches to the City Council were organized by familiar local gadfly John Walsh, a plaid-jacketed City Hall regular who invoked Martin Luther King in a speech in Council Chambers recounting the CRA’s bigoted and abusive history; praising a “coalition that spanned from Marxist-Leninists to libertarians”; and duly praising Gov. Jerry Brown – who, out of expediency as much as principle, pushed the state law wiping redevelopment agencies out. 

Walsh and his supporters brought along a prop headstone reading “RIP CRA.” Security guards in the council chambers tried to suppress the headstone, though the government’s prohibition on political displays in chambers holds council members to a different standard than it holds the public. Councilman Paul Koretz prominently features a bobblehead of President Obama on his desk. 

Somewhere to your right you see Valarie Stewart, whose father Nick Stewart used the money he made playing janitor Lightnin’ on the Amos ‘n’ Andy TV show to build and operate the Ebony Showcase Theatre in Mid-City. The CRA seized this historic site and now operates it as a performing arts center named after infamously corrupt former City Councilman Nate Holden

This was standard behavior for the CRA. The agency (the most secretive and impenetrable government body I have experienced in Los Angeles) wrapped itself in rhetoric about raising living standards for the poor, but in practice the CRA deprived tens of thousands of working and lower-income residents of their homes and livelihoods while granting vast subsidies to billionaires

Stewart’s family long ago abandoned its efforts to get their theater back. She attended today in hope of making a statement to the City Council, but the non-agenda-items comment period (the only portion of a Council event in which citizens are given an open forum to demand redress of grievances) expired before she had a chance to speak. 

The comment period lasted less than half as long as the time the Council allotted for a ceremony in honor of Rob Dyrdek, during which most of the council members spoke individually to praise Dyrdek’s hard work in the expansion of skateboard parks; Dyrdek was then given time to praise each of the council members in turn. 

And with that redevelopment comes to an end in California – at least until eminent domain abusers find another guise under which to make theft of private property sound like high-minded vision. The CRA’s phone line still plays a normal-office-hours message but warns that “our menu has changed.” 

This gang of thugs deserved a more ignominious end. But the important thing is that it is an end, and it was worth heading even to L.A.’s grim, sparsely populated downtown to celebrate it. 

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  • killazontherun||

    Hey, I just might be first if I don't over do it right here and right now with an overly long run on sentence.

  • killazontherun||

    Glad I stopped myself. First!

  • bisexual||

    Are you a bicurious having trouble finding honest and safe places to have bisexual chat ? Well you've come to the right place---datebi*cO'm---. Just join in for free!

  • ||

    Of course this only means that in thirty years the media will cast this action as a disaster as they have done Prop. 13.

  • juris imprudent||

    Prop 13 was a disaster. Of course the politicians really have themselves to blame for that. They could've prevented that by doing something other than spending like drunken sailors with lottery winnings and a couple of grams of meth. [Your average drunken sailor just can't keep up.]

  • Maxxx||

    Prop 13 is the only thing that makes CA bearable.

    And the lottery did not exist when prop 13 was enacted.

  • ||

    Hey, I can't remember, did the lottery rescue the California educational system as was promised?

  • ||

    My dad was a teacher in California for forty years. One year he got an Apple II computer for his classroom out of Lotto funds. For the children!

  • Double D||

    I AM a drunken Sailor, and the only time I spend like crazy is when I haven't spent at all in months, due to a long deployment. In other words, drunken Sailors spend what they have and stop when they run out of money.

  • ||

    Prop has been wonderful for California. I brought stability to neighborhoods by letting people plan for the rest of their lives. They could repair and fix up their homes without fear that escalating property taxes would force them out onto the street.

    Developers have had their sights on Prop 13 as they want property taxes to increase on homeowners and small commercial establishments. Not only will it bring more cash to the city so people like Garcetti can give it away to billionaires such as Eli Broad, but it will drive the elderly out of their homes and force small businesses to sell out to developers.

    Proper 13 also allows the taxes to increase so that the government has a steady increase in income. LA would have been fine without the CRA. The direct financial burden of the CRA/LA has been $11 BILLION.

    The indirect cost through deteriorated infrastructure, the driving away of honest developers, the creation of improvements to the city is unknown.

    Now to get rid of the crooks who supported the CRA, e.g. Garcetti, Wesson, Perry, Greuel, Trutanich who never batted an eye at all the billions that went missing.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    High speed rail will be different from these previous central planning innovations.

  • Sevo||

    Yes.
    It will pour far more money down a rat-hole.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Why does there seem to be so many shitty things with the initials CRA? And they all have basically the same effects?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Council meetings are such excruciating affairs. Literally, painful as crucifixion. I can't imagine willingly sitting through one just to watch your fellow citizens try to penetrate the thick and disinterested skulls of their representatives there.

  • ||

    I once attended a town meeting (New England town meeting type) with my mother when I was a kid. After five minutes (maybe less) I said "later, ma, I'm walking home. See you there.", even though it was a pretty long walk (a few miles). The meeting was unbearable. Maybe it was good that I saw what government and democracy looked like at an early age.

  • ||

    Meh. Try a school board meeting sometime.

  • ||

    That is not why people attend. It is part of a larger plan. Use Twitter -- there's a lot going on behind the scenes.

    If Egyptians can do it with Facebook and twitter so can Angelenos

  • Dello||

    Why the fuck would anyone live in Cal?

  • SIV||

    The weather?

  • ||

    It is paradise and our homes are jewels in paradise, but we have to stop the thieves who want to destroy L.A. just to make a fast buck.

    They have created a commercial real estate bubble in Hollywood and with the death of the CRA, it is crumbling. Where they planned skyscrapers, we see now bankruptcies.

  • ||

    Good.

  • Almanian||

    Son, I am surprise.

    Good news!

  • Sevo||

    "Gov. Jerry Brown – who, out of expediency as much as principle, pushed the state law wiping redevelopment agencies out."

    Yeah, he tossed a couple of virgins into the volcano in an attempt to save his main support from the SEIU.

  • Sevo||

    Why no link on Walsh calling the RDA on their illegal meeting?
    Ugly sport-coat, but honest argument.

  • Bradley||

    Nate Holden - Legislation

    1987: Forbidding the sale or manufacture of realistic toy guns. Bill passed.

    1990: Requiring buyers of Rolex watches to register the serial number with police, to make it difficult for crooks to sell them. Introduced in the wake of a rash of Rolex thefts of about one a day, with some owners killed.

    1999: Requiring cable companies to remove sneakers tied together and left dangling from overhead lines. Holden said they were "menacing signals of gang territory and drug sales." Police officials said they were just pranks. Bill passed.
  • ||

    Ding dong, the San Jose RDA is dead!

  • ||

    Nick Stewart also had a small role in "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" as the husband of a migrant couple whose truck is forced to swerve down the slope on the side of the highway.

  • l0b0t||

    Best movie ever!!
    Stewart's line in the film is eerily appropriate. After their truck crashes and their belongings are scattered down a mountainside, Stewart turns to his wife and says "I said it before and I'll say it again - I didn't want to move to California."

  • ||

    So, what are the odds/how long until these things re-emerge, slightly rebranded?

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