Redevelopment is indispensable

Lawmakers should work to restore it in wake of Supreme Court decision

Those who charge that redevelopment has been a boondoggle and a tool of crony capitalism may be right about its use in some cities and counties, but their criticism doesn’t apply to Chico. Here it’s been used wisely and appropriately to improve blighted neighborhoods, repair infrastructure, build municipal facilities and provide low- and moderate-income housing.

Now, thanks to a recent state Supreme Court decision upholding ABX1 26, the bill that abolished the agencies, that tool is gone. It’s a huge loss to the city. Projects currently in the pipeline will be completed, but as of Feb. 1 the Chico Redevelopment Agency will cease to exist.

The Legislature did not intend to abolish RDAs altogether. That’s why lawmakers passed ABX1 27 as part of the redevelopment package. That bill would have allowed the agencies to remain in operation as long as they made payments to the state.

Ironically, the court cited last year’s Proposition 22, a voter-approved initiative sponsored by the League of California Cities that prohibited state “takes” of city funds, as the basis for its decision to overturn ABX1 27.

There isn’t time to save the current RDAs, but legislation can be written to restore redevelopment while providing the state with budgetary relief and eliminating some of the abuses in the current system. Redevelopment remains indispensable to cities to spur economic development, and the sooner it is restored, the better.