Redevelopment? Hah! More on California Municipal Government Waste

A couple of days ago we posted an item inspired by an L.A. Times expose, that related instances of shocking waste and frittering away of public funds by California redevelopment agencies (see http://gideonstrumpet.info/?p=501 ). Today, the L. A. Times follows up with another front-page story: Jessica Garrison, Kim Christensen and Doug Smith, entitled Affordable Housing Gets Short Shrift, October 3, 2010, at p. A1. The subtitle says it all: Many cities spent millions from 2000 to 2008 without building a single unit, an analysis of state data shows.

What’s worst about this is that in some of the instances the Times describes, properties were acquired or taken by eminent domain, the indigenous inhabitants evicted, and the land left to sit there and rot.

“In Santa Ana and Avalon, officials spent millions on projects that knocked down homes, displaced low-income people and worsened blight without producing anything in its place. Block after block in a 94-acre area east of Santa Ana’s civic center is lined with boarded-up buildings and vacant lots. In the Santa Catalina Island city, where housing is so scarce that workers sometimes sleep in the bushes, a half-block of property where cottages were razed to make way for more homes, has sat, sun-baked and undeveloped, for 15 years.”

This is a long article that is chock-full of facts involving a number of California municipalities, so it does not lend itself to a brief summary. We urge our readers to take a look at the actual article (and the photographs that go with it) and check it out for themselves. See http://www.latimes.com/news/local/me-redevelop-housing-20101003,0,3080263.story 

We do have to mention, however, the Times report that in some cases, homes were acquired by the city with redevelopment dollars and then conveyed to city employees. “Public use,” anyone?

In the meantime, the Times reports, PBS roving reporter, Huell Howser, having accepted a $320,000 subsidy for his program from California redevelopment folks, has been gushing on the tube about the wonders of redevelopment (see http://articles.latimes.com/2009/aug/02/local/me-redevelopment2 ). That was in 2009. We would sure like to hear what Mr. Howser has to say now, after reading the L.A. Times expose. Do you suppose he might apologize? Return the money? Not likely, is it?

And that’s how it goes. No wonder California is going to hell in a handbasket.  On the latter point, see Jennifer Rubin, California, There It Went, Commentary magazine, October 2010. Do read that one.

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