The California State Supreme Court issued a ruling Thursday, abolishing the state's redevelopment agencies and with them, $1 billion of funding for affordable housing.
The decision means that an estimated 400 redevelopment agencies around California will be eliminated and, unlike previously thought, will not have a chance to "opt in" to the program by paying a fee, the Associated Press is reporting.
Redevelopment agencies provide crucial funding for public infrastructure and affordable housing programs, and have been key to sprucing up neglected neighborhoods. But there has been abuse of the program also, with redevelopment monies sometimes going to fund new golf courses, paying lobbyists, extragavant dinners for city staff and developers and other expenses deemed inappropriate, especially at a time when California is facing a $13 billion shortfall.
The Supreme Court justified its decision by saying that because the state legislature authorized the creation of redevelopment agencies, it now can eliminate them, calling the move a proper exercise of the legislative power vested in the Legislature by the state constitution.
The Associated Press wrote that:
Thursday's ruling was highly anticipated because it was a key component of balancing the state budget by eliminating redevelopment agencies, which primarily are controlled by cities and counties to promote construction projects and revitalize blighted districts. While the court allowed the state to dissolve redevelopment agencies, the Legislature had intended to keep redevelopment agencies going by requiring payments to schools and other local services.
But the decision means that property taxes in redevelopment zones that previously would have gone to the redevelopment agency, will now be spent on K-12 education, police and other local services, which Gov. Brown argues are more essential.
After the ruling, Housing California, a statewide advocacy organization, issued a statement saying Thursday's decision will result in higher numbers of homeless and more people living in overcrowded and substandard conditions.
"California has one of the most effective and efficient methods for funding public-private partnerships to construct affordable places to live for Californians of modest means," Housing California said in a statement.
"Governor Brown has said that state government needs to focus on "essential services" and Housing California agrees. Other than food and water, there's nothing more 'essential' than having a roof over one's head."
What do you think about the decision to eliminate redevelopment agencies? How will this impact our community? Sound off in the comments below.