Bill advances creating new redevelopment in California

Trendy eateries and shops line Lankershim Boulevard in the NoHo Arts District of North Hollywood. The neighborhood's revival has been underwritten in large part by redevelopment funds.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Denounced by one property owner as a “communist land grab,” a bill is advancing in the California Legislature that would allow local governments to spend tax money to seize land from residents and provide it at a discount to private developers.

Dubbed by some as the “son of redevelopment,” SB 1 would replace redevelopment project areas disbanded more than a year ago with new Sustainable Communities Investment Areas.

The establishment of the areas would allow local officials to use money from the growth in property tax revenue, bonded indebtedness and powers of eminent domain to take properties from some and give them to others for economic development. Unlike the old redevelopment areas, government officials would not have to show that an area is blighted to be targeted.


“There is a big void without redevelopment,” Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg told an Assembly committee Wednesday. The panel approved his bill, which he said “is good for jobs and its good for the environment.”

However, more than a dozen property rights activists testified against the bill before the Assembly Local Government Committee. The measure would have a “chilling effect on the rights of property owners,” and result in a “drastic loss” of farmland, said John Gamper, a lobbyist for the California Farm Bureau Federation.

After one woman called the measure a “communist land grab,” Republicans also weighed in with opposition. Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) said many residents don’t trust government to have the power to take private property. “That’s of huge concern for most people in California, that the government will abuse that authority,” she said.

Steinberg said he is willing to consider changes to win more support for his bill. “I do believe the use of eminent domain should be limited,” he told the panel before its 6-3 vote to approve the bill.


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