Community redevelopment is intended to eliminate blight and create affordable housing, but this powerful tool, created nearly four decades ago by the state, has been misused by some communities.
To discourage continued misuse of redevelopment, the state Legislature has narrowed the definition of blight. The reform has prevented repetition of the travesty in Indian Wells, an affluent community near Palm Springs, which used redevelopment tools to create two championship golf courses several years ago.
Indian Wells enjoyed the benefits of redevelopment, then tried to circumvent state regulations requiring that 20% of the property taxes generated by new development be used for affordable housing. Poway, an upscale community in San Diego County, used housing dollars for curbs and street lights.
A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Terry Friedman (D-Los Angeles), would make it harder for communities to get around the affordable housing requirement. The measure, AB 315, would also raise the portion of property taxes set aside for this purpose to 40%. Communities that have ducked their responsibilities would have to set aside 50%.