California

California City Redevelopment Agencies: Waste, Abuse, What Else is New?

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The L.A. Times continues its post-Bell expose streak of actually interesting and useful takedowns of local governments doing the wrong things, in this case city redevelopment agencies that tax, spend, and wreck, but don't do so much to provide affordable housing. Some excerpts:

At least 120 municipalities — nearly one in three with active redevelopment agencies — spent a combined $700 million in housing funds from 2000 to 2008 without constructing a single new unit, the newspaper's analysis of state data shows. Nor did most of them add to the housing stock by rehabilitating existing units….

State law requires municipal redevelopment agencies to spend 20% of the approximately $5 billion in property taxes they collect each year on building and preserving homes for poor and moderate-income people.

But affordable housing is not politically popular, and The Times found that many projects face inexplicable delays. Others end up worsening blight and hurting the people they were supposed to help. Land ostensibly set aside for affordable housing was in some cases turned over to commercial developers, raising questions about whether cities ever intended to build the housing in the first place.

State officials do little to ensure that cities spend the money properly or report accurately on their activities. The Times found numerous discrepancies between what officials told reporters they had produced and what they told the state….

More quotes and context at my California news and politics blog "City of Angles."