Scott Nelson is a Placentia City Councilman. For more, visit the Flash Report

On May 4th, a CA Superior Court Judge ruled against the California Redevelopment Association and allowed the State access to $2.4 billion in funds from cities redevelopment agencies. 

That same evening, the Placentia City Council, acting as the Board of Directors for the Redevelopment Agency (RDA), voted to withhold their portion of these funds from the State.

The OC Register stated that the City had taken a lonely stand.  Are we crazy?  Perhaps.  Are we angry?  You bet.

We understand that this decision may be a ‘death sentence’ for the RDA.  But, to pay the state is a death sentence anyway.  The RDA stands to lose $1.1 million to the state and would have to borrow the money from its set aside fund, which is used for low income housing.  Ironically,  the State  still expects us to produce   low income housing in spite of the fact they have taken all of our money and to add insult to injury, we still have to pay that money back to the set aside fund within five years or face the state’s wrath all over again. With our back up to the wall and nowhere else to turn we decided to take a stand.

Placentia is an older community and uses redevelopment as a tool for revitalization.  In fact, the City has used redevelopment to stimulate the construction of new development and to foster economic vitality by investing into its historic downtown.  With the state taking our redevelopment money away we will find it difficult, if not impossible, to move forward with our development plans for our downtown area.  Specifically this means the parking that is needed not only for our downtown, but for the proposed Metrolink Station may now be in jeopardy.  

But the real issue here is not just the state’s theft of   RDA-funds, but an out of control, dysfunctional State Legislature who is continually looking for ways to pick the pockets of cities and to erode local control simply because they lack the discipline to make the tough budget decisions that my colleagues and I have to make.

Cities have already been victims of Prop 1A and 42 funds, ERAF shifts, triple flips and more.At the rate the state is going they are likely to just take general funds next to balance their budget?  I can assure you-for this Legislature, any dollars are fair game.  Our Legislature has done nothing but spend money like drunken sailors, drive business out of California and create one of the highest tax rates in the nation.  And we continue just to let these bureaucrats, with their insatiable appetite to spend, feed out of the public trough.  The problem is the trough they are feeding from is the same one that funds local public safety, street maintenance, parks and recreation and infrastructure improvements.

It is stated that these RDA funds will be used to support education.. Approximately half of $82 billion of the state’s budget goes into the black hole called education–a system that is also miserably failing our children.

Assemblymember Chris Norby of the 72nd District (which includes Placentia) stated in a recent Orange County register article that he is in favor of the ruling to take these funds from redevelopment agencies and “put that revenue flow back to the public services for which it was intended”. 

This is an extremely parochial point of view and shows an utter lack of understanding of what redevelopment really is.  What is even more disappointing is the pervasive attitude that seems to be shared by many in Sacramento that it is acceptable to take local revenues from cities to solve their budgetary problems.     Assembly Member Norby, who was a teacher and also served as an elected official, apparently thinks more tax dollars to the state, which continually finds new ways to waste money, is far preferable than letting cities use these local revenues to determine their own fiscal direction.  This is the mentality that is dragging this state down financially and the reason why California was ranked dead last out of all states to do business by Chief Executive magazine.  In fact, Western City magazine, May 2010 issue,  states that in 2006-2007, redevelopment contributed $40.8 billion to the California economy and supported 303,900 jobs.  In addition, redevelopment construction activities for the same period generated $2 billion in state and local taxes.

Here’s a suggestion:   Don’t let the State handle education funds.  Let the cities and school districts be directly responsible.  I can assure you that when you are handling the funds for your kid and your neighbor’s kid at the local level, transparency is far greater.   

Yes, we may be given a death sentence.  However, we have 52,000 people standing behind the City Council expecting us to fight for them and not just let the state steal their local revenues.  Interestingly, this country was founded on the notion that taxation without representation is immoral.  The taking of local funds by the state, whether those funds are used for transportation or redevelopment, is nothing short of the same thing our founding fathers fought so vigorously against the British over.  Just as the colonies couldn’t stand to have the Crown dictate to them how to raise and spend funds, cities should not accept what the state is doing to them and must take a stand or face losing even more local control to the ever greedy politicians in Sacramento.  Placentia is taking a stand and we guarantee we will not go down without a fight.