For decades community redevelopment agencies (CRAs) acted largely in the shadows of state politics, helping to fund some of the biggest construction projects in some of the most neglected areas of California’s cities. From San Diego’s “Gaslamp” district to Old Town Pasadena and the Americana mall in Glendale, money from the state’s community redevelopment agencies have fueled basic public improvement projects, affordable housing units and massive commercial ventures, all with little insight or input from the public. Once Gov. Jerry Brown targeted CRAs for elimination in his tough budget proposal, part of his effort to close a $28 billion deficit, the work of CRAs moved out of the shadows and into the spotlight, and the debate was ignited. Critics of CRAs argue that they forge inappropriate, and potentially corrupting, relationships between elected officials and developers, and that the claims of CRA projects creating jobs are way overblown. CRA supporters call them the biggest single source of new jobs in California. What is the real story and are CRAs worth saving?
Chris McKenzie, executive director of the League of California Cities
Simone Wilson, staff reporter for the L.A. Weekly who has written extensively on CRA’s
Frank Stoltze, KPCC political & criminal justice reporter