John Chiang to audit redevelopment agencies

As debate rages over Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to raid local redevelopment agencies’ coffers to help close the state budget deficit, state Controller John Chiang today announced his auditors will review 18 redevelopment agencies – including five in the Bay Area – to see how they spend their money.

“The heated debate over whether RDAs are the engines of local economic and job growth or are simply scams providing windfalls to political cronies at the expense of public services has largely been based on anecdotal evidence,” Chiang said in a news release. “As lawmakers deliberate the Governor’s proposal to close RDAs and divert those funds to local schools and public safety agencies, I believe it is important to provide factual, empirical information about how these agencies perform and what they bring to the communities they serve.”

Chiang’s office said the 18 RDAs selected for the reviews – to be done by early March – represent urban, suburban and rural communities, are spread around the state represent a mix of populations. Auditors will review, among other things, how the RDAs define a “blighted” area, whether they are appropriately paying for low- and moderate-income housing as required by law, whether they are accurately “passing through” payments to schools within their community, and how much RDA officials, board members and employees are being paid.

On the audit list are:
Redevelopment Agency of the City of Fremont (Alameda County)
Richmond Redevelopment Agency (Contra Costa County)
Hercules Redevelopment Agency (Contra Costa County)
Redevelopment Agency of the City of Pittsburg (Contra Costa County)
Redevelopment Agency of the City of San Jose (Santa Clara County)
Redevelopment Agency for the County of Riverside
Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (Los Angeles County)
Redevelopment Agency of the County of Sacramento
Pasadena Community Development Commission (Los Angeles County)
Redevelopment Agency of the City of Fresno (Fresno County)
City of Palm Desert Redevelopment Agency (Riverside County)
Placentia Redevelopment Agency (Orange County)
Parlier Redevelopment Agency (Fresno County)
Anderson Redevelopment Agency (Shasta County)
Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Citrus Heights (Sacramento County)
Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Calexico (Imperial County)
Community Development Agency of the City of Coronado (San Diego County)
City of Desert Hot Springs Redevelopment Agency (Riverside County)

UPDATE @ 5 P.M.: As our West County Times’ Tom Lochner reports:

The Hercules, Pittsburg and Richmond redevelopment agencies are among seven in California that, as of December, had not paid their obligations to the Supplemental Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund, part of a statewide $1.7 billion shift of redevelopment agency property taxes to schools in the 2009-10 fiscal year. Hercules owed $4.9 million, Pittsburg owed $17.4 million and Richmond owed $10.1 million. Two of the other seven non-payers — Parlier in Fresno County and Placentia in Orange County — also are among the 18 agencies targeted by the statewide review.

Gee, I wonder if that had anything to do with their selection for the audit?

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • This is the tip of the ice berg.

  • Lisa Vorderbrueggen

    Note that three of the 18 redevelopment agencies on this list are in Contra Costa County — Richmond, Hercules and Pittsburg. This could prove very interesting in a county that has made extensive use of redevelopment dollars over the years.

  • John W

    If most people are like me, this a very difficult issue to understand. That said, I’m with the gov and the newspaper editorials on this. Most convincing of all were the statistics in the Sunday Times showing the huge percentage of property taxes being siphoned off by these agencies in some jurisdictions.

  • bbox231

    Anu is quoted in this mornings’ Argus as saying – ” I dont think any money has been misspent with Fremont and its redevelopment agency.”

    Wonder where Anu has been for the last several years, certainly there are members of our community that would NOT agree with her conclusion.

    Question: Has money not been “…misspent…” when checks are written and cashed . . . and the community has nothing to show for it ? Not just once, mind you, but repeatedly – over a period of many, many YEARS.



  • MJB

    Mr. Chiang … Please add the City of Santa Clara’s RDA to your list of those who need investigating. And, please stop them BEFORE they spend $40MILLION of our public tax dollars to build a stadium for a wealthy private corporation. If the 49ers want a new stadium – they should pay for it themselves. And, don’t forget the 17+ acres that they are renting for $25,000 PER YEAR!! Another example of private subsidy using public money.

    I applaud Gov. Brown … keep up the good work and stop the bleeding from public monies.

  • Donald P Buchanan

    Don’t forget Santa Clara whose majority of the city council favor giving our RDA funds to the 49er’s for a silly stadium dream !

  • Alex Says

    Most of the blighted areas in Santa Clara is in City hall! The back room deals, and secret meetings to circumvent the intent of RDA is appalling. Having a few people divert needed funds to a private corporation from Schools and other public necessities is criminal. Those who are doing this needs to be impeached.

    Please investigate the RDA of Santa Clara CA.