Pasadena Sub Rosa has a new story up on their site regarding the use of redevelopment money to alleviate the Los Angeles Unified School District's pressing need for cash. Apparently a State Appellate Court has now ruled that City of Los Angeles redevelopment funds can be used to help pay for public education. The amounts of money involved are staggering, and it is potentially a huge win for the public school systems that have borne the brunt of Sacramento's indifference to one of its most important responsibilities, the education of children. Preferring instead to spend our tax dollars on things like personal automobiles for legislators so that they can drive in comfort to functions put on by lobbyists hoping to influence their votes.
Look at it this way, when is the last time Sierra Madre Elementary bought Anthony Adams tickets to a Kings game? Like maybe never? Back of the line, kids.
So if LAUSD is now able to get their hands on that kind of dough, shouldn't the Pasadena Unified School District be heading to court to get their fair share as well? PSR has this to say:
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that a State Appellate Court has ruled that the Los Angeles Unified School District is entitled to $600 million in redevelopment funds from retroactive property taxes going back to 1994, equating to $873 per LAUSD student. PUSD might realize $16 million if it is entitled to a similar proportion of Pasadena redevelopment funds as LAUSD.
Here is how the Los Angeles Times broke it down:
A long running legal battle over local property taxes has ended in a court decision that will mean a multimillion-dollar windfall for the Los Angeles Unified School District. But estimates of the amount vary dramatically - from about $20 million in the near term to $1.14 billion in years to come ... "It's very significant," said John Walsh, assistant general counsel for L.A. Unified. "It's a source of revenue and we can use it for schools ... He estimated a gain of $600 million to $1.4 billion over the next 40 years and "multimillions" in reimbursements going back to 1994.
Now this Appellate Court decision applies just to LAUSD because they're the only ones so far to have filed and won such a lawsuit. But what this means is that Assembly Bill X-4-26, which theoretically forces cities to relinquish a portion of their redevelopment money to impoverished public school systems rather than using it all to build high density mixed use housing and other taxpayer funded welfare projects for needy developers, can work here in California. It looks like the requirements of schools are now being prioritized by the Courts over the needs of local real estate and condo hustlers. Which is, of course, the way it should be. You can only wonder why it took so long.
So why hasn't this become a much bigger deal, and why isn't it being talked about as a possible salvation for our very own troubled Pasadena Unified School District? This, to my way of thinking, has all the earmarks of a suppressed news story locally. And perhaps even more troubling, why hasn't PUSD filed a similar suit in court? Nobody is in greater need of that kind of funding.
My guess would be it is because the money, once they win it, would be coming out of city redevelopment funds. Something PUSD's traditional allies in the development and realty trades would find to be quite troubling should it occur. After all, redevelopment money has traditionally been for their pleasure alone, and the last thing they would want to see happen is it being spent on a bunch of kids, teachers, and public schools.
Which leads to this interesting theory on the genesis of Measure CC. Could it be that PUSD and its allies foresaw this situation with redevelopment funds as a distinct possibility? And perhaps they cooked up this parcel tax initiative as a way of relieving some of the anticipated pressure to spend Pasadena (and perhaps even Sierra Madre) redevelopment money on schoolkids and teachers?
But wait, there's more!
The Sacramento Bee is reporting that anti-AB 32 forces (operating under the rubric of "California Jobs Initiative") will turn in well over the 435,000 signatures necessary to get this issue on November's ballot. Which pretty much guarantees that the matter will become an important debating point in November's gubernatorial election as well.
Those who support AB 32 have been bellyaching loudly about how this ballot initiative has been funded by both Valero Oil and Occidental Petroleum. Which I guess is a fair tactic in politics. But has anybody noted that the Building Industry Association and California Association of Realtors are big proponents of both AB 32 and the special apple of their eye, SB 375? The so-called anti-sprawl element to fighting greenhouse gases, to be done through massive building programs in transportation corridor cities such as ours? While I'm not crazy about big oil either, I don't recall Valero sending envelopes stuffed with cash to the "No on V" people here like the BIA and CAR did.
My dog in this fight is that by knocking down AB 32 for hopefully more than a few years, its evil twin SB 375 will be equally set back as well. Which would take away a lot of the juice behind SCAG's draconian efforts to turn Sierra Madre into just another over-built and generic loserville.