Redevelopment and the California Jobs and Education Development Initiative (JEDI) Act
- BRINGING BACK REDEVELOPMENT:
Governor Jerry Brown and the California legislature abolished redevelopment agencies in 2011. The agencies were infamous for abusing eminent domain, engaging in corruption and steering vital public funds away from schools and fire departments. The JEDI Act seeks to revive redevelopment agencies.
- EXPANDS AGENCIES’ POWERS:
If passed, the JEDI Act would be one of the most significant expansions of government power in decades. Not only would it resurrect redevelopment agencies, it would grant them more power than they previously had.
- ONE OF THE WORST FOR ABUSE:
Redevelopment made California one of the worst states in the nation for eminent domain abuse. It enabled the government to replace existing property owners with wealthier ones.
- EXPANDING BLIGHT:
The JEDI Act would create an even more expansive definition of “blight” to condemn private property and give it to politically-connected developers and corporations. For instance, an area would show signs of blight if unemployment rates in the area exceed the national average. Under this definition, the entire state shows signs of “blight.”
- UNELECTED AND UNACCOUNTABLE:
Redevelopment agencies are unelected and unaccountable governmental bodies that have very few restrictions on their power.
- HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF ACRES:
By 2011, there were 425 redevelopment agencies in California administering 750 project areas, 34 of which were over 6,000 acres. In one example, the entire city of Westminster, south of Los Angeles, was declared a redevelopment zone.
- REDEVELOPMENT HURT LOW INCOME AREAS:
Those displaced by redevelopment were often low-income minorities or the elderly, whose property was bulldozed to make way for big box retailers, professional sports teams and auto retailers.
- JOBS? WHAT JOBS?:
Redevelopment did nothing to increase the overall number of jobs in California. In 2011, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office actually found that “there is no reliable evidence that [redevelopment] attracts business to the state or increases overall regional economic development.”
- DEBT —LOADS OF IT:
A redevelopment agency can only receive property tax revenue from its redevelopment area if it goes into debt. By 2011, the long-term debt of the agencies stood at $29.8 billion and their share of total statewide property taxes grew to 12 percent.
- BLIGHTED FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE:
The JEDI Act allows redevelopment plans to last forty years into the future and removes a time limit on when redevelopment agencies have to repay their debt.
- REDEVELOPMENT OFTEN DIDN’T REDEVELOP:
Redevelopment agencies spent just 13 percent of their funds on project improvements and construction costs, while most of their funds went to debt repayments or paying municipal bills in towns where elected city officials often doubled as redevelopment agency personnel.