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    News

    OC Supervisor & Statewide Redevelopment Critic Chris Norby: Redevelopment Itself Is The Problem, Not Just Who Runs It


    (December 21, 2004) -- Orange County Supervisor Chris Norby -- a former Fullerton Mayor/Councilman who authored a widely read book critical of Redevelopment in CA -- has told LBReport.com that LB's current hot button debate over a possible City Council-run Redevelopment Agency is fine -- "overall it's good for a City Council to maintain tight control over Redevelopment" -- but stressed that this doesn't address the major problem he sees with Redevelopment: the process itself.

    In a brief telephone conversation this afternoon (Dec. 21), Supervisor Norby told LBReport.com that he believes the public (in general) has valid reasons to be concerned that a Council-led RDA might expand Redevelopment to increase its access to property tax money by declaring more parts of the city "blighted"...a problem he said is invited by the Redevelopment process itself regardless of who runs it.

    "Redevelopment agencies try to make up for mistakes of the past by expanding and creating more Redevelopment," said Supervisor Norby, author of the 1990s book Redevelopment: The Unknown Government. A Report to the People of California, which was highly critical of the Redevelopment process.

    Supervisor Norby declined to back either side in LB's debate over whether LB's elected City Council should run LB's Redevelopment Agency, currently run by a non-elected board.

    He indicated some surprise when told by LBReport.com that LB City Hall had assigned to the Redevelopment Agency some government grants obtained by the city...and expects the RDA to "repay" City Hall for the value of the grants (using property tax increment money).

    Supervisor Norby called this an "interesting way of shifting money around," adding that he didn't know offhand if it was legal. "I'd have to know more about it," Supervisor Norby said, declining comment on the issue without knowing details.

    However, Supervisor Norby did say that he favors getting Redevelopment money into General Funds...and supports changing state law to remove the distinctions between "Redevelopment" and General Fund monies.

    And he remains an outspoken critic of the Redevelopment process generally, telling LBReport.com:

    The big problem with Redevelopment is its use to subsidize retail...Consideration of a Council-run Redevelopment Agency is fine, but doesn't answer the real question of the overall purpose of Redevelopment: how it's being used to subsidize retail and big developers...

    Redevelopment typically tries to make up for making things worse and worse by trying to expand, worsening its past failures by creating new ones. It's basically a scam.

    It's built on faulty premises of centralized economic planning and robbing money from other levels of government...

    ...Asking who ought to run Redevelopment [the City Council or an independent board] is fine [a worthy discussion] but doesn't answer the question of how Redevelopment is being used to chase retail. It's a statewide problem...

    Redevelopment shows an extreme bias toward large developers at the expense of smaller busineses...Using eminent domain and an army of consultants, Redevelopment makes cities increasingly less interesting by homogenizing them. It's actually created a type of "Redevelopment architecture," I think it's phony and cheap looking, designed to make a quick impact, favoring big chains while Mon and Pop stores are squeezed out.


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