For Garden Grove city officials, who've been trying for years to transform their benighted Harbor Blvd. corridor into a world class resort destination, the good news is that Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the state budget last week. If it had passed, the budget would have killed local redevelopment agencies, or RDAs, thus imperiling the city's high-class aspirations.
The bad news: whenever Brown does approve a new budget, it's seeming increasingly likely that Garden Grove--as well as any other city counting on redevelopment funds as a major source of revenue--will be shit out of luck.
For one thing, Brown's already on the record for wanting to do away with RDA's, which have long been opposed by conservative state legislators like Dan Wagner (R-Irvine) and Chris Norby (R-Fullerton). In fact, both the state assembly and senate have passed bills that would either eliminate RDAs or force them to fork over a share of the estimated $1.7 million the state would save if it killed the roughly 400 such agencies statewide.
Either way, Garden Grove is clearly freaking out. On June 17, a day after the state legislature passed the soon-to-be-vetoed budget banning RDAs, the city issued a frantic press release condemning the action as "illegal."
"I am extremely disappointed in the state lawmakers who passed not only a reckless, but an illegal budget yesterday, ignoring the dire consequences their irresponsibility would have on local communities," wailed Bruce Broadwater, chair of the city's RDA. "This elimination and hostage-taking of local redevelopment funds sends our city, and the entire state of California, on the wrong track . . . it is unconscionable that the State Legislature would vote to shut down our most powerful job-creation tool."
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A bit of civics 101 may be in order. In case you didn't know, RDAs are agencies that cities and other local or state entities create so that they can declare certain areas to be "blighted," and thus eligible for government seizure via eminent domain, thereby allowing the city to "improve" the "blighted" area--which typically happens to be low-income housing--by replacing it with revenue-creating hotels or other businesses that the city hopes will create jobs and provide a profitable return on the original investment.
At the moment, Broadwater and his cronies at Garden Grove's city hall are biting their nails over the possible impact the state's budget woes will have on their current plan to build a 700-room "upscale hotel development" on Harbor Blvd. Unlike past proposed projects that would have destroyed hundreds of homes, however, the city now claims that banning RDAs would threaten a separate mixed-use project in Garden Grove that includes "600 housing units, 200 units of which are categorized under affordable housing" as well as "two other affordable housing projects on the drawing board with about 100 units each that are also threatened."
The city's current mayor, William Dalton, is begging Brown to save his heavily-leveraged city. "I call on Governor Jerry Brown to do the right thing and veto [the two bills banning RDAs] and help put California back on a road to economic recovery, or otherwise, watch California's communites suffer."