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Redevelopment's Demise Could Be a Good Thing

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Redevelopment's Demise Could Be Good

Gene Cubbison

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The Los Angeles City Council all but shut down the city's redevelopment agency this week -- a major step that reinforced the State Supreme Court decision that effectively shuttered these agencies all across California.

Around the state, agencies will shut down quickly -- by Feb. 1 perhaps, or maybe later in the spring if there is an extension. Deals and projects of the agencies will have to be unwound, with technical details requiring years.

There is both good and bad in this, whatever you think of redevelopment. But what is the best and the worst of it?

The worst of this is the human cost -- and specifically the cost in lost jobs at a bad economic time.

Redevelopment projects may never have produced much in the way of net jobs and economic activity (according to some students with conclusions that are hotly disputed), but they undoubtedly provided a revenue stream for California's cities, which don't have many revenue streams their elected officials can control.

Some of that revenue was used to pay for the salaries of city employees who had little or nothing to do with redevelopment. As a result, a number of public servants will lose their jobs.

The best of this is the example it sets -- and the hope it offers that Californians might be capable of completing the difficult task of unwinding its complex, misbegotten system of government.

For too many years, government in California has gotten more and more complicated and hard to manage, and more and more strange methods have developed as ways to work around other rules.

Redevelopment, and its recent growth, was a workaround--a way around rules that make it hard for cities to raise revenues.

Fixing California requires a great unwinding of such rules.

One thing -- redevelopment -- has now been unwound.

Let's hope that it's just the first of many pieces of the system that will go -- and that one day, something new, simpler and better will be erected in its place.

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