Abuse of the Redevelopment Agency, by Ralph Sidney Cato





As a follow up to my report on the just concluded MORR/CURE redevelopment/eminent domain conference I am providing the following story written by an African American whose journey as a victim is what drives my passion to rid our nation of “takings” where the victims are typically minorities and those less fortunate than others.
In his dissenting opinion in Kelo v. New London Justice Thomas wrote that ” in 1981, urban planners in Detroit, Michigan, uprooted the largely “lower income and elderly” Poletown neighborhood for the benefit of General Motors Corporation. J. Wylie, Poletown: Community Betrayed 58 (1989). Urban renewal projects have long been associated with the displacement of blacks; “[i]n cities across the country, urban renewal came to be known as Negro removal.””


A sidebar to Justice Thomas’s opinion is found where, while not naming them directly, he refers to the 4th and 5th Amendments. “The court has elsewhere recognized “the overriding respect for the sanctity of the home that has been embedded in our traditions since the origins of the Republic, Payton, supra, at 601, where the issue is, instead, whether the government may search a home. Yet today the court tells us that we are not to “second-guess the city’s considered judgement,” ante, at 18, where the government may take the more intrusive step of tearing down petitioners’ homes. Something has gone seriously awry with this court’s interpretation of the Constitution”

Abuse of the Redevelopment Agency by Ralph Sidney Cato


“I would like to take this opportunity to stand up against the Redevelopment Agency. To stand up against the abuse of property rights.
My struggle with RDA started when I was 28 years old. I am now 54. I have been silent for 10 years due to stress and distress, but before that I fought it for 15 years. I was going to city hall so often it was a job. A volunteer job, I did research, kept records, made speeches, was interviewed, and interviewed many. I counted the money spent by the RDA, made presentations, marched in protest, traveled far and wide to get answers to the redevelopment craze. I even threw my shirt at city hall.
One day I cam home to find my neighbor standing in my yard shaking like a leaf. “Have you heard, have you heard? “Heard what Carman”? They’re taking our homes”. “What”? “They’re taking our homes, go turn on the news”. On the 6:00 news: Our homes were being taken by eminent domain.
Can you imagine coming home and finding out on the 6 o’clock news that your home is being taken by redevelopment? Can you imagine going to a city council meeting and coming home to find people in your closet taking your clothes, in your kitchen taking your pots and pans, in  your backyard taking your lumber, in your garage taking your tools? Imagine using a shotgun to run everyone off your land. Can you imagine waking up at 4:30 in the morning with a bulldozer at your window? It happened to me.
My life changed. If redevelopment was apartheid, I’m Nelson Mandela. If redevelopment was discrimination, I’m Martin Luther King. If the RDA was slavery, I’m Harriet Tubman. I am a direct descendant of our Founding Fathers intent for constitutional rights. I’ve been jailed, pepper sprayed, escorted out, put out, left out, represented, misrepresented, courted, conjured, blamed (the NIMBY’s), discriminated, victimized, and vilified. all this after being cheated out of my 30 year ancestral home never to own a home again.
The city eminent domained my property and forced me to sell at $1.10 a sq ft. i.e.:$30,000. Not even 10% of the true value. The city purchased the developers land at a top dollar, $19 or $20 a sq. ft. The city lumped it together with the city owned land in the middle and sold it back to the developer for a dollar. Other land down the street sold for $350,000 a third acre. The same amount I had.
What happened to my case? Google my name, RALPH S. CATO, find my case, see how it was abandoned by my lawyer, the court, the state, the people, the laws, the city and its cronies.
Cronyism and nepotism run rampant and parallel to corruption with the miselimination of blight.
Redevelopment does not eliminate blight in zones, however creates blight inside city halls. Instead of creating jobs ,jobs are merely an incidental benefit. RDA creates quadruple the cost of creating jobs and even worst by creating failures. We listed the failures of Redevelopment by name .There were no successes. They tried to name some successes, but the same were on the failure list.
Redevelopment agencies must be eliminated. RDA is not a person, it’s a financial burden to the people. Anything realized by redevelopment could have been realized without redevelopment for less money. Redevelopment people all think alike. Get in their way and your name is MUD. If fighting against RDA changes your name to MUD, then I will wear MUD like a badge of Honor. M.U.D. My Ultimate Duty.
What is redevelopment? Redevelopment is corruption inserted into the law. Corruption that inhales the peoples funds. An attack on the money that belongs to the people. A direct attack on the General Funds of Cities, Counties and States. Let’s kill the financial cancer to our Funds before no remission is possible.
Even though you may not be able to imagine what happened to me, it did. I need your help to prevent it from happening to anyone else. Call your Assembly Member and Senator, ask them to vote to abolish Redevelopment altogether.”
Gilbert note: I spoke to Ralph this afternoon about the city of Fresno and the background of this “taking.” He made a point that like many other property owner he did not read city  notices in the local newspaper. In fact I wonder how many readers whose homes are in redevelopment project areas even know it.
Ralph does not recall receiving any Resolution of Necessity which precedes the taking of your property.
 There is much that can be added to his journey.






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