With the elimination of California’s redevelopment agencies in December 2011, we are all left wondering what impact will this have on brownfield revitalization and urban development? CCLR’s Ignacio Dayrit weighs in:
Letter to the Editor – San Francisco Chronicle – January 5, 2012Apart from the loss of funding for affordable housing like that provided by Habitat for Humanity (“Key Habitat for Humanity funds eliminated,” Jan. 3), the loss of redevelopment means the likelihood of more sprawl development, causing traffic, poor air and water quality, and the loss of open space, agricultural land and habitat. Redevelopment funds helped subsidize infill development. While infill is more expensive than sprawl, the environmental impacts are far less. But in order to develop in existing areas, more funds are needed to study impacts and appease neighbors, to upgrade infrastructure, to construct accompanying community-benefit projects, such as parks, and to clean up any toxic materials. Redevelopment also brings jobs and housing closer to existing neighborhoods, producing less traffic. It is true that many redevelopment agencies did not use their money wisely, leading to accusations that hastened their demise.With Proposition 13, cities will look for other ways to generate revenue. With less funding to encourage infill, cities will sprawl (for the increased property taxes and development fees). Downtowns will decay, and there will be sprawl. We’ve seen this all before.