Plea to legislature re Feb 7th redevelopment hearing

Redevelopment: The Unknown Government

Redevelopment: The Unknown Government

The following letter was sent to members of the state assembly in support of governor Brown’s proposal to terminate California’s redevelopment agencies.

Author Bob Blue is the owner of Bernard Luggage which, with our assistance, defeated CRA/LA’s efforts to take his family’s Hollywood business for the W hotel project almost five years ago.
February 7, 2011
Assemblymember Joan Buchanan, Chair
Assemblymember  Michael Allen
Assemblymember  Roger Dickinson
Assemblymember Donald Wagner

Subject: Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 4 Hearing on Redevelopment

Strong Support for Gov. Brown’s Plan to Abolish Redevelopment Agencies and Return Funds to Local Jurisdictions for Critical Services


Honorable Assembly Members:

I live and own property in Los Angeles which has the largest Redevelopment Agencies in the State of California. I also own property in the Hollywood (Los Angeles) Redevelopment Project Area. I am the Vice President of the Hollywood Highlands Democratic Club and the founding member and  past Chair of the Hollywood Studio Neighborhood Council.

Today you will probably have a packed room of Redevelopment supporters carefully organized by two major lobbying arms of the Redevelopment Industry, the California League of Cities and the California Redevelopment Association whose members profit from subsidies from the hard earned taxes of the working class.

Like many who support Governor Brown, I could not afford to take time off work and attend your meeting of February 7, 2011. But I am writing to you today, to let you know that there are many like me who strongly support abolishing Redevelopment Agencies as proposed by Governor Brown.

Although I am a Democrat, this is a non-partisan issue – This is an area that should unite all parties. The waste and abuse caused by continuing Redevelopment beyond 66 years (established in 1945), will hurt those of our population with the least influence and the least financial resources.

Redevelopment has overextended its welcome and it has not met its own projected targets (without follow up audit to show the projected revenues and jobs have materialized). The core problems with continuing Redevelopment are:

1. Eminent Domain Abuse (Reverse Robin Hood): The power of Kelo-type Eminent Domain in which Preferred/Wealthy Property owners come out on top and those who cannot afford good legal representation get run over by a politically-driven Redevelopment Agency. A great example of this injustice can be found in Glendale, CA with the Glendale Redevelopment Agency (GRA) being used by a Billionaire Developer to force out the owner of the Golden Key Hotel, Ray Patel. Mr. Patel does not want to sell, his property is not blighted, and yet the GRA (RDA) will seize his property after going through the formalities required by Redevelopment Law (CRL).

Many of us have asked, “What happened to the rule of law in Los Angeles County?”I guess the answer is that California Redevelopment Law allows this type of abuse with no protections for the poor and middle class and it goes beyond the original intentions of the State legislature.

2. Taxpayer Subsidies for the Wealthy, Trickle-Down Crumbs for the less Fortunate

In Hollywood (Los Angeles), we have witnessed Property Tax increment funds being wasted on high-end projects that only seems to provided one-time, short-term construction projects with the bulk of the profits benefiting wealthy developers and the industry of development lawyers, financial firms, and consultants that feed off the trough of the working class.

We have witnessed wasteful spending on high-profile projects such as Hollywood and Highland (home to the Oscars) that cost over $600 million to build but underperformed and was sold at a loss of $400 million at the height of real estate speculative bubble. There is not enough bang for the taxpayer’s buck in a time of high real estate speculation activities that witnessed other projects literally across the street being performed without taxpayer subsidies. The Redevelopment Agency in Los Angeles has a long track record of problems collecting and managing delinquent loans which involved multi City Controller audits and LA Times articles.

3. Redevelopment Bonds and their Contribution to Massive State and Local Jurisdictional Budget Deficits.

In Los Angeles, we have also witnessed questionable practices such as the use of HUD Section 108 grants for the multi-million Kodak Theater Complex, owned by CIM Group, Inc which was built in 2004 even though the description of Section 108 funds is for “slum clearance.”

And you only need to Google “1601 N Vine” to read about the apparent fraudulent of $1.4 million of public Redevelopment funds that was stolen from the taxpayers by the concealment of a hidden appraisal which favored the Government in its purchase of privately owned land for Redevelopment in the Los Angeles RDA (CRA).

Two Articles from the San Francisco Area:

How Redevelopment Agencies Subvert Democracy

Redevelopment Defenders Ignore Budget Realities:

An Article from an Opponenet of Redevelopment in Los Angeles (the Largest RDA):

Damage Caused by CRA’s Outweighs Benefits

From the above article: In Los Angeles, the CRA spent $750 million and thirty years in downtown LA, after which it insisted in a court proceeding that the project area was still blighted and the agency required more time and more money to continue their efforts.”

And the Redevelopment Primer:

Redevelopment, the Unknown Government:
For all of the above reasons, I urge you to support the majority of California voters who are NOT Billionaires, but are part of the working middle class and small business owners who work hard everyday to keep up and don’t need to be burdened with the massive deficits and corrupt practices of Redevelopment in California.


Robert Blue
Los Angeles, CA

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