Placerville City Council and the Painter of Blight

By January 31, 2011


OK, so last week again I was listening to the Placerville City Council and they were talking about redevelopment in Placerville. Their dedication to the elimination of the blight that plagues Placerville is impressive. I can’t actually see the blight, but I’ve never had a good eye for it — just ask anyone whose been to my back yard.

To address my blight-sightedness I was going to ask our very own Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light, if he wouldn’t mind being a Painter of Blight for a while, just so I could get a better sense of what it looks like, but then it dawned on me that it would be much easier (and cheaper) to head to the library. Here’s what I found.

When an area is labeled “blighted,” the property tax base that provides funding for local government gets frozen in time. A good example is when blight was found in what was designated the Oak Park Redevelopment Area: all the real property was worth about $60 million. As of 2009, properties in the Oak Park Redevelopment Area were assessed at $483 million. Even so, local governments and schools continued to collect only what they did when the properties were worth $60 million because the tax base is frozen in time. What happens to the rest of it? It goes to the redevelopment agency. The specialists go back and forth about how well redevelopment agencies work.

What about the politicians?

Well, the new governor doesn’t like the California Redevelopment Agency program, the California Senate leader doesn’t like it either, and the non-partisan eggheads at the Legislative Analyst’s Office have heaped a fair amount of criticism on it too. Gov. Brown has proposed eliminating redevelopment agencies altogether by July 1 and with so many of the top politicos lined up against it, it’s a good bet that the days of the redevelopment agency are numbered.

So, listening to the Placerville City Council continuing to push redevelopment agencies for Placerville is singularly impressive if for no other reason than because of how out of touch it is with current realities. There are a lot of questions about who actually gets the financial benefit from starting a Placerville Redevelopment Agency, and some of those questions could end up being embarrassing if the City Council ever comes clean about the personal financial interests and landholdings of its members.

Until we have more information, I guess we’ll just have to assume that, like the tax base in a redevelopment agency area, the Placerville City Council is also frozen in time.



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