The Fall of Redevelopment Agencies in CA: Will Public Safety Suffer?
If you are here in California, by now, I am sure you have heard of the demise of Redevelopment Agencies. The once highly sought after CASH COW is now nothing more than an ominous cloud destined to wreak havoc on cities throughout the state.
By definition (RSA site), Redevelopment is a process authorized under California law that enables local government entities to revitalize deteriorated and blighted areas in their jurisdictions. Redevelopment agencies develop a plan and provide the initial funding to launch revitalization of identified areas. In doing so, redevelopment encourages and attracts private sector investment that otherwise would not occur. Redevelopment activities create jobs and expand business opportunities, provide housing for families most in need, help reduce crime, improve infrastructure and public works, and cleanup of environmentally threatened and rundown areas.
Over the last 50 years, these funds have been used to fund anything and everything that closely resembles the Redevelopment definition. Salaries, benefits, and equipment are just few of items funded by this program. Finally, the state said no more and shut down the ATM to the over 400 cities throughout the state. That is right, shut down, turned off the faucet, closed the account. Now cities are left to fill the void. For some, this will require some budget discipline, moving of numbers, and shifting of workload. For others, lay-offs, early retirement, cuts in public safety, and cancellation of community programs.
Why public safety? Well, over the years, your city elect/elite decided to fund police salaries and other civilian support positions under the guise of ‘redevelopment’ if the employees so happen to work in a ‘redevelopment’ area. Oakland for instance, funded 20 police officers with these funds (along with part of the Mayor’s salary). So will public safety suffer? YES. Anyone that tells you different is looking in a funhouse mirror. You do not have to be a genius to know more cops in an area = less crime and vise versa. As frontline resources dwindle, other support resources will be affected. Investigations will slow and victim services will suffer. If there is ever a time to get involved in your community, now is it! Unless other funding options arise, you can count on lay-offs in public safety which in-turn may bring us back to the Wild West.
Do not be afraid to get involved. You deserve answers and we must continue to hold our government accountable.