The California Court of Appeal just handed down an opinion holding that findings of blight by a redevelopment agency were not supported by substantial evidence, and therefore the proposed redevelopment project was invalid.
This opinion, County of Los Angeles v. Glendora Redevelopment Project, Docket No. H032945, was filed on June 16, 2020. It’s a biggie – some 40 pages long, and based on a huge (6800-page) trial court record – so its reasoning doesn’t lend itself to abstracting.
But its bottom line amounts to: no blight – no redevelopment. The trial court found that there was no substantial evidence of blight, and the Court of Appeal affirmed.
This opinion contains a good, concise description of how redevelopment financing works (slip opinion, pp. 4-5, footnote 2.
Of course, this case has an unusual wrinkle. Though it was a so-called validation action challenging the validity of the Glendora Redevelopment Project, it had been brought – not by a property owner – but by the County that was bent out of shape at the prospect of losing tax revenue that would be diverted from the project area to the redevelopment agency, instead of going to the County as the local taxing authority.
We don’t mean to sound overly cynical, but courts, particularly California courts, are likely to be more receptive to pleas of a government entity eager to preserve its tax revenues, particularly now that the whole state appears to be going down the tubes because of the recession, than they are to pleas of a property owner who wants to keep his property from the clutches of an eminent-domain-wielding redevelopment agency that is out to raise money. On the other hand, to be fair to California courts, this is not the first time they have stricken down a phony blight finding – see for example Neilson v. City of California City, 146 Cal.App.4th 633 (2007), holding that a statute allowing redevelopment of blighted urban land was not applicable to vacant desert land.
If you are into eminent domain, it’s an interesting read. go to http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/H032945.DOC