Spend It While You’ve Got It

Last week, California Governor Jerry Brown said that the state’s financial problems are so bad that it should end urban-renewal subsidies. So the state’s urban-renewal agencies have selflessly stepped up and turned over surplus funds to the state to help it solve its financial problems.

Just kidding. Instead, redevelopment agencies all over the state have decided to blow their budgets by committing as much of their funds as possible before the state can take control.

This is no surprise and it shouldn’t dampen efforts to revoke urban-renewal powers. Because most of today’s urban-renewal tax revenues are dedicated to paying off urban-renewal bonds, the greatest benefit from ending urban renewal will be in stopping the sale of any further bonds.

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14 thoughts on “Spend It While You’ve Got It

  1. metrosucks

    If California doesn’t get high speed rail, especially between Fresno and whatever other backwater is the terminus, the state will literally just slide into the ocean!

  2. C. P. Zilliacus

    The Antiplanner wrote:

    Instead, redevelopment agencies all over the state have decided to blow their budgets by committing as much of their funds as possible before the state can take control.

    Some of the California municipalities mentioned in the article include these, which I have personally visited:

    Culver City
    Santa Monica
    Pasadena
    Palm Springs

    None of the above impressed me as suffering from much in the way of urban blight.

  3. Dan

    I suspect Culver City, Santa Monica and Pasadena are spending money on modernizing street design and upgrading transit, as CC and Pasadena have aging populations that either now or will soon be too old to drive safely, thus alternatives are needed. Santa Monica likely needs street trees and sidewalk retrofits, and infra upgrades to modernize services. That’s what I would guess they are spending money on.

    DS

  4. Borealis

    Dan makes a good point that urban renewal is not just removing ghettos, but also updating these inner cities that started with a young demographic and now are growing old. It would be interesting to hear how other cities go through such transformations.

    I do question whether the timing of these projects when the state is in a huge financial crisis.

  5. MJ

    More like “Spend like you’ve got it”. This is California in a nutshell. And it is why you and I will end up bailing them out when they default on their bonds.

  6. Scott

    There’s a difference between urban renewal, versus maintaining/upgrading infrastructure.

    Change whole areas, because of elderly non-drivers? And their VMT is so high.
    New pavement will solve that? If there just wasn’t that law, which says that one cannot change homes, because you want different area feature amenities.
    If there were only places such as retirement homes & complexes.

    OMG! The media didn’t report on all the invalids, for past decades that die from being stuck in their home.

    It’s a shame that people don’t realize their options & how valuable their car is, before they choose a location. Well, many planners think that way, and that many transit options should be available, regardless of density & many other factors.

    RDAs & TIFs are basically state-sponsored capitalism, which helps pay for private building & skimming tax revenues. It also raises land prices.

  7. bennett

    MJ says: “More like ‘Spend like you’ve got it’. This is California in a nutshell. And it is why you and I will end up bailing them out when they default on their bonds.”

    Where did these CA bureaucrats come from… Wall Street?

  8. bennett

    Scott says: “people don’t realize their options & how valuable their car is, before they choose a location. Well, many planners think that way, and that many transit options should be available, regardless of density & many other factors.”

    Interesting claim. Will you provide some examples of places where this is happening?

  9. Scott

    The attitude, of many planners & residents, is that, for many places, a person should have, or expect to have, many transit options (& have more added), wherever they decide to live–ignoring the fact that the options already exist, and need to be noted when deciding on a home.

    Put another way, it’s like many people choose a home, then get mad that there are not more transit options & should be. Another location should have been chosen. People forget that high density is needed (>8,000, about 15% of people live in those cities), for fairly prevalent transit.

    For really widespread transit, there’s only 5-6 UA choices, and <1/3 of the housing options within them. So choose among them for better access to transit or move overseas, where UAs are much denser.

    This is a common type of thinking. There are many aspects of low and high density, areas that are mutually exclusive, yet people want the best of both worlds. And after choosing one location, many get upset that so-&-so is not there.

  10. bennett

    I think low residential density is often an excuse for ignoring transit options. For “example” (you might remember me asking for one) Round Rock, TX is a suburban community with typically low residential housing density. They also have the Dell world HQ (about 10,000 people come here every day), a college campus, a large hospital facility, a new Ikea, a large outlet mall, and a large outdoor shopping center. All of these are major employment destinations that attract tens of thousands of people every day, many of which are lower income residents.

    The people of Round Rock have expressed concerns with the traffic and overall lack of mobility options (http://www.roundrocktexas.gov/home/index.asp?page=207), but the city refuses to make an investment in bus service despite the fact that they have received federal grants to operate a bus service because, “We don’t have the density.” B to the S.

  11. Borealis

    I think there is a lot of middle ground here. People who need transit options need to move to places where there are options, and cities need to have areas with lots of transit options. That means no one has a right to transit wherever they happen to live, but also there should be a market of transit options available some places in a city.

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