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New Budget Passes, Nabs $1.7B From Redevelopment Agencies

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Downtown aerial via thelastminute on Flickr/photographyicon.com

The state legislature passed the budget yesterday -- and the ax has finally fallen on redevelopment agencies. Without Republican support, of course, it wasn't quite possible to completely dissolve the agencies. Instead, legislators who wanted at their collective cash pile did the next best thing: take $1.7 billion out of the agencies' pockets (by forcing them to join "a new redevelopment program," says the Times). Much of that, reports the LA Weekly, comes from LA. If that's a bit much for the city and Community Redevelopment Agency to stomach, "it can choose option B and shutter the city's Community Redevelopment Agency altogether." This all comes after no small amount of scrambling by city politicos and redevelopment supporters to save the agencies -- particularly in L.A., where there was a "notion of Los Angeles exceptionalism." In the end, lawmakers didn't bite. The fact that they killed a special escape clause for L.A. last month was probably a hint at what was to come. Some anti-CRA politicians took the opportunity to jibe the agency for providing $52 million to build a parking garage for the Broad Museum on Bunker Hill--not exactly a blighted neighborhood (thought not exactly a lively one, either). Said one senator's chief of staff: "When we're facing this kind of fiscal crisis, how do we best spend taxpayer money? Should we focus more on schooling and policing or should we be using taxpayer money on development?" It's not yet clear what will happen to the CRA's many projects in the pipeline.
· California Redevelopment Agencies' Demise [LA Weekly]
· Democrats pass austerity budget [LA Times]