Friday, March 17, 2006

San Ramon Redevelopment: The Unknown Government

Any Town USA - Is This San Ramon, California?

The Unknown Government

There is an unknown layer of government in California, which few understand.

This unknown government currently consumes 8 percent of all property taxes statewide, $1.5 billion in 1997. It has a total indebtedness of over $41 billion.

It is supported by a powerful Sacramento lobby, backed by an army of lawyers, consultants, bond brokers and land developers.

Unlike new counties, cities and school districts, it can be created without a vote of the citizens affected.

Unlike other levels of government, it can incur bonded indebtedness without voter approval.

Unlike other government entities, it may use the power of eminent domain to benefit private interests.

This unknown government provides no public services. It does not educate our children, maintain our streets, protect us from crime, nor stock our libraries.

It claims to eliminate blight and promote economic development, yet there is no evidence it has done so in the half century since it was created.

Indeed, it has become a rapidly growing drain on California's public resources, amassing enormous power with little public awareness or oversight.

This unknown government is Redevelopment.

It is time Californians knew more about it.

State law allows a city council to create a redevelopment agency to administer one or more "project areas" within its boundaries. An area may be small, or it can encompass the entire city.

These project areas are governed by a redevelopment agency with its own staff and governing board, appointed by the city council.

Thus, an agency and city may appear to be one entity. Often city councils appoint themselves as agency members, with council meetings doubling as redevelopment meetings. Legally, however, a redevelopment agency is an entirely separate government authority, with its own revenue, budget, staff and expanded powers to issue debt and condemn private property.

Out of California's 471 cities, 359 have created redevelopment agencies. No vote of the residents affected was required. No review by the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) was done.


City Council Member 1: "It would be good if we had a unanimous Eminent Domain consensus among ourselves before we have a public meeting about Eminent Domain."

City Council Member 2: "But, we can not discuss business like that without following the 'Open Meeting' rules under the Brown Act."

City Council Member 3: "That's right, I forgot about that."

City Council Member 4: "But, we are going to get hammered by the public at an Open Meeting."

City Council Member 5: "I know what we can do. We can appoint ourselves to the Redevelopment Agency and discuss the issues privately. That way we will not be in violation of the Brown Act, and can build a unanimous consensus amongst ourselves. That way when the public crys out that they do not want Eminent Domain we can show that we all on the City Council support it completely."

City Mayor: "That's a Great Idea! Make sure you have a good speech set up. We'll tell the public to trust us and that we do not take Eminent Domain lightly. We'll tell them we will use it as a last resort, even though we are targeting a certain court. Heck, we might need to use it on something else also. With all of us supporting it, the public will just have to go along with it."

See the Brown Act, regarding Open Meetings.

Read more at San Ramon Talk

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For so many years I was proud to live in San Ramon, I now feel as though I live in the most corrupt of city governments! How could they try to slip so much changes in zoning without the public's awareness? I no longer feel secure being a propery owner in San Ramon