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State Legislative Analyst Office Spars With California Redevelopment Association

As Alameda residents get ready to vote on another Alameda Unified School Parcel Tax, Measure A, on the ballot on March 8th, the non-partisan California State Legislative Analyst’s Office is sparing with the California Redevelopment Association over the Office’s interpretation of the impact of Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies across the state. The California Redevelopment Association has sued the State of California over budget moves in the past that transferred $2 billion from state redevelopment agencies to K-12 funding.

In a February 9th policy brief titled “The 2011-12 Budget: Should California End Redevelopment Agencies,” the State Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) examined Governor Brown’s proposal to eliminate some 400+ redevelopment agencies across California to free up money for California schools. According to the brief, “the Governor’s proposal merits consideration,” and that under the proposal, schools, counties, special districts and cities would receive increased property tax revenues.

The report also says that, “redevelopment agencies lack some of the key accountability and transparency elements common to other local agencies,” and cites the ability of local redevelopment agencies to incur debt without voter approval as an example. The report further says that there is, “no reliable evidence that redevelopment increases regional or statewide economic development,” and that the limited academic literature available suggests that the effect of redevelopment on property values is minimal.

As evidenced by a February 16th letter from the LAO to John Shirey, Executive Director of the California Redevelopment Association, The California Redevelopment Agency challenged the LAO’s report which characterized a 2009 California Redevelopment Association (CRA) study claiming that eliminating redevelopment agencies would result in the loss of 304,000 jobs in California.

Mac Taylor, a legislative analyst and author of both the letter and the LAO study, yielded little ground in response, writing, “The information they [CRA representatives] provided, however, does not change our criticisms of the CRA study or our finding that it vastly overstates the employment effects of redevelopment.”

The LAO brief and letter are available online here:

LAO Brief on Proposal to Eliminate Redevelopment Agencies

LAO February 16th letter to CRA

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