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CRA Fires Back at Controller

 As expected, supporters of redevelopment in California wasted no time responding to a scathing report released today by State Controller John Chiang. This afternoon California Redevelopment Association re-iterated its longstanding contention that redevelopment creates jobs, stokes local economies, and provides a net economic benefit to the state despite what Gov. Jerry Brown claims is a $1.7 billion annual drain on state coffers. 

Chiang's report claims, among other things, that of 18 redevelopment agencies surveyed, almost none of them had done a credible job tracking the number of jobs that redevelopment created in their respective jurisdictions. Moreover, the report found numerous inefficiencies and sloppy business practices. Finally, it contends that agencies' definitions of blight -- which is crucial for the creation of redevelopment project areas -- vary so widely as to be meaningless.  

The CRA continues to contend that redevelopment is responsible for over 300,000 jobs statewide, contrary to the controller's claim that it's essentially impossible to track or assess the jobs that individual agencies have created, much less estimate the statewide impacts. CRA Executive Director John Shirey attacked the controller's metholology in his statement released today: 

"Unfortunately, rather than issuing a serious, methodologically and academically sound review of redevelopment, it appears that the Controller has chosen to issue a politically-motivated campaign piece to support those who want to abolish redevelopment," said Shirey.  "The Controller has cherry-picked a few problems in reporting to draw broad conclusions about redevelopment that are not supported if one looks at the whole picture of redevelopment statewide."

The CRA takes issue with the controller's report on the following points: 

-The report focuses on only 18 agencies, out of nearly 400 statewide.

-The report was conducted with undue haste: only five weeks to assess a multibillion-dollar, statewide program. 

-The 18 agencies include five that did not make their SERAF payments last year, indicating that the report focused unduly on agencies that were struggling financially. 

-Those agencies that missed SERAF payments did so legally and are not necessarily mismanaged or ineffectual but rather were unprepared for the state funding transfer. 

-Only 8 percent of agencies statewide missed their SERAF payment whereas 28 percent of the report's focus agencies did. 

Shirey's statement makes no mention of the controller's claims about the definition of blight, nor does it address claims of mismanagement. Throughout the budget debate, the CRA has maintained that some agencies do need to be reformed -- but not eliminated. 

"The California Redevelopment Association and our member agencies are committed to working with the Controller and the Legislature on any reforms needed to improve redevelopment outcomes or the process of reporting," said Shirey. 

For more insight into Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to eliminate redevelopment, please visit CP&DR's Redevelopment Elimination Resources Page.

--Josh Stephens

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