Thursday, February 3, 2011

Redevelopment Agency Property Tax Grabs Tripled In The Last 10 Years

I'm telling you, the tidal wave of press that is taking on Redevelopment Agency entitlements in California just grows everyday. How did such a astonishing thing happen, and all of a sudden like? I'm almost afraid someone is going to pinch me, and I'll wake up and all of this provocative news will be gone.

Over on NBC News L.A.'s edgy PROPZERO site, Tattler favorite Joe Mathews lays down the first of today's two joyous barrages on the reeling redevelopment axis. This one is entitled, "The Redevelopment Blob Is Growing."

The Sacramento Bee's Capital Alert site is pointing out a trend that has been ignored in the debate over Gov. Jerry Brown's plans to eliminate redevelopment agencies.

The point is: the problem with redevelopment is not merely that such agencies gobble up a slice of property taxes that could (and, it says here, should) be going to schools. It's just that the slice of that pie is growing. Fast.

The Bee cites a controller's report showing that the $5.7 billion in property taxes that redevelopment agencies took in 2008-09 is THREE TIMES the amount they took a decade earlier.

Now a 300% increase in the amount of our property taxes CRAs suck up is quite a lot. And all that squawking we're hearing from League of California Cities types (read: G4) about how a CRA demise will deprive poor people of housing is rather hypocritical in my opinion. The reason they're about to lose their Sacramento excuse for existing is that they built precious little low income housing, or anything else worthwhile for that matter. Instead many gave vast sums of our tax money to whatever corporations took them to lunch last. The real problem is they built almost everything but low income housing, and have taken more and more money to do this in the process.

Ask yourself this question, how much low income housing has been built in Sierra Madre using property tax generated CRA funding? Come to think of it, what exactly has our CRA money been spent on? Is there a list we can look at? And why does our CRA always meet behind closed doors?

Anyway, here's how the Sacramento Bee breaks it down statewide on their Capitol Alert site:

Each year the state controller's office publishes a thick report on the activities of redevelopment agencies, most of which are operated by city governments. And the latest report, covering the 2008-09 fiscal year, details the extent of their finances.

It reveals, for instance, that redevelopment agencies captured about 12 percent of all property taxes collected in that state, $5.7 billion. It shared $1.2 billion of those revenues with schools and other local governments, but retained the other $4.5 billion.

That $5.7 billion is well over three times as much tax money as redevelopment agencies captured 10 years earlier, an examination of the 1998-99 controller's report shows. And the debt incurred by redevelopment agencies also has grown sharply. In 1998-99 they had $42.7 billion in debt. By 2008-09 that had more than doubled to $87.5 billion, most of it in the form of bonds.

Well, we here in Sierra Madre can also tell you all about bond debt. Especially after we dug out the information ourselves. All at a time when City Hall had been busy blaming its bond woes on our unwillingness to pay them more.

Anybody who wants to read California State Controller John Chiang's report can access it by clicking here.

Let me know what you find.

EVG numbers continue to rise

Bill Coburn notes at the very end of his current Police Blotter feature visible on the site that the number of EVG fraud cases is now over 525. The loss rising to just under a quarter of a million dollars.

Why is it this story has become so quiet as of late? There hasn't been any kind of update from the Sierra Madre Police Department in quite some time. Nor has there been any press refresher from City Hall since last January 6. And certainly not a peep from the peoples' local guardians, The Mountain Views News or The Sierra Madre Weekly. Though the MVN's Susan Henderson did write this week about an unrelated crime from 6 years ago.

Is it that the crooks have gotten away with the money and those who have failed to solve the case hope the victims will just get on with their lives? Has it been deemed that such a reputation challenging event is detrimental to the SMPOA's current attempts to get the boys in blue a raise, and that is City Hall's real priority?

Or is it that those who bear the responsibility to make something happen haven't been able to do that, and would just prefer not talk about it.

I think further updates on this story are sorely needed. The City really does need to be a little more forthcoming about what is after all the biggest crime in Sierra Madre's history.

FEMA issues an untimely warning about winter flooding

Over on the Sierra Madre Weekly website there is a warning posted from FEMA about the dangers of flooding during the winter rainy season. It apparently was sent out in the form of a dispatch, which was received a week or so back by the paper's editor, Terry Miller. Here is how he tees this missive of mercy up:

FEMA Urges California to Prepare for Flooding This Winter: FEMA Urges Arizona, California and Nevada To Prepare For Winter Flooding Wildfires, Rainy Season Conditions Cause Significant Property Damage.

FEMA, as you might recall, is the federal agency credited with disastrously screwing up the rescue efforts in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina devastated the place a while back. Their reputation for basic competency having been pretty much shredded in the media once all the details became evident.

In the country I come from Winter began on December 22, 2010. Which means a good portion of that season has already passed us by. So why would they be issuing a winter flooding alert now rather than, say, back in November when the reminder would have been a bit more timely?

Perhaps this coming August we will receive a warning from FEMA that it gets hot during the Summer. The Sierra Madre Weekly will be certain to pass that important information on to us as soon as it becomes available I'm sure.


  1. Is anyone actually buying fuel from the EVG station? I can't imagine using a debit/credit card. In fact I've revised all of my village shopping - mostly not - as a result of this crime. If I don't have the cash I don't buy; simple and safe for a variety of reasons.

  2. Whatever gas is left in the EVG tanks should be declared public property
    and given to the people of Sierra Madre.

  3. That is one fat Pooh. Is he a DIC member?

  4. Oh. I get it. The six year old crime Susan wrote about in the
    Looney Views this week was never solved. Just like what has
    happened with the EVG ripoffs.

    Happens all the time. Nothing to worry about.

  5. Speaking of cops and mullah, my wife claims she saw a brand new police pick-up truck in town yesterday. What's the rationale for that?

  6. More empire building from Chief Diaz I suspect. Maybe she is going to host a SMPD car show soon.

  7. Intelligent cities are a component of the Genius State where money is collected from the good people and given to the bad people who pretend to build good things that don't really exist.

  8. When the city council turned over the RFP (Request for Proposal) process to a consultant, they gave the consulting service, judgment for the disposition of the historic church building. By handing this over to a consulting service, this has given the city council a place to hide behind.
    Any RFP should have the input of the public, since it is owned by the public.
    This is a process that should be brought back into public view.
    One of the demands should be to restore this historic structure as part of any
    Schema including it’s adaptive reuse.
    Already, by the government’s admission, the CRA has money meant for repairing and restoration of “blight”. After all, the city has allowed our property to go into disrepair, and ought to be integral in the plan requirements to restore it for public use.
    This church should also be deemed an historic resource to insure it’s preservation.
    It is one of the oldest structures in our village, and represents the era when this town was founded.
    It would be a mistake to think destroying it to make way for a bunch of stucco apartment blocks should be the way to go. We will be destroying more of the history of this town.
    If the city wants to find a way to repair the dismal reputation it has with many residents, treating this project site sensitively would really help.
    The question that needs to be asked is what are the CRA’s interests on this issue?
    Is our community redevelopment organization chartered to work to eliminate “blight”, or simply a fa├žade for the shadowy private – public marriage of developers to maximize profits at the publics’ expense?
    I think the RFP process should respect the true charter of the CRA, or shut it down. It has become welfare for those who are in the building industry, and enabled by our government.

    Don Watts
    p.s. John, your blog is turning out to be an indispensable resource, filling the gap left open by the lack of local news by the printed media. It’s great to hear the different viewpoints from everyone, both pro and con. Clearly a democratic process !

    Don Watts AIA, Emeritus

  9. Is John Chiang John Wayne? Come to take back Ft. California?February 3, 2011 at 8:46 AM

    I really appreciate the link to John Chiangs report. Saved it, but noticed similarity of cities where there were a lot of blanks in a couple of those charts???. And LA county, proper had a extra one billion, trillion??, in front of the other counties. Staggering figures that left me gasping.

  10. The redevelopment agency money is nothing compared to how much the state of California pays for pensions. Now Brown is trying to fix the mess for which he and Davis are totally responsible. The State owes more to the pension fund than it collects in taxes. All other areas like education, parks, and social services have reduced funding as our money goes to pay people not to work.

  11. 8:46 re: John Chiang

    Chiange is no John Wayne. Why is he just now uncovering all this? What the %^$# has he been doing the past 4 years? All of these activities did not start yesterday. He did not do his job and should not have been re elected.

  12. Excellent article (link above) about the issues encountered in repurposing church properties for other uses as church participation declines. Also very good points on historical designations and how they can help or hinder. DW is right on re: lack of transparency by CC-1 and their manipulation of the CRA process. SOP in most cities, good for Gov. Brown on going after this one. He should know.

  13. Ms. Ohara, carpe diemFebruary 3, 2011 at 9:38 AM

    8:57,Redevelopment, it started in my city in 1974, but I swear it was closer to 1965 to 70.
    I know John Chiang is not John Wayne, but I am, grateful for any light shed on the redevelopment rape by these little unknown governments. It is a great report..

  14. Thanks for posting this today, Crawford.
    I know a lot of people who have been VERY INTERESTED in this CRA issue. Don Watts, who just posted a great addition to this blog at 8:39 am this morning, thank you, Mr. Don, as usual for your wealth of knowledge and keen understanding of the issues. It's just a tragedy you are not still on our council, however, your posts on this board are outstanding.
    To Mr. S.H. our good friend in north-west Sierra Madre,
    you must be very pleased Crawford and staff are hammering this CRA issue. You have been interested in getting rid of this CRA disease since 2006. Still recall you and your wife passing out the CRA expose booklets at a 4th of July parade. Thank you for all you do to fight these awful scams!

  15. Break those rusty chains of redevelopment, Johnny Chiang CashFebruary 3, 2011 at 10:02 AM

    Betcha massive amounts of accured modified accounting dollar units will be found wanting, reduced by half or practically none existant.

    Those pension funds are tied up in secured collateral mortgage synthetic derivatives bonds.

    All these cities are scrambling to allocate their dollars before they are taken. But they gleaned it off of the back of helpless property owners. For thirty cents on the dollar? Like thirty pieces of silver?

  16. At this point I don't know how the CRA survives. Brown is a master image manipulator and the picture he has painted of CRA supporters is not a pretty one.

  17. Gaffe of the day -- "Alverno Girls curshes Sacred Heart of Jesus" Sierra Madre Patch. Awwww

  18. The most frustrating that about all this is that genuine need and responsible government assistance gets lost in he melt down.

    There are communities that need help.

    Of course that's not us or any of our close neighbors.

    Shame on every city without any real blight that jumped into forming a CRA. And that is us.

  19. Hey Tattler, dazzling arrray of fonts!

  20. To give Brown the benefit of the doubt, I think the stench of the CRA has been polluting the political air for some time, and everybody knew about it. So maybe he put it on his list of Get 'im s.But don't forget, cities who have tried to limit their density have also been on that list.

  21. The search for the perfect font is an endless one.

  22. Sierra Madreans for Sane Financial PracticesFebruary 3, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    The CRA was the fulfillment of the "Hey its free money" attitude, the "Let's get some too" mistake.
    It's not free - never was.
    Every time I hear a city official say, "It's not costing anything", I worry about just how much it's costing us.

  23. The warning Sierra Madreans need to hear in order to prepare for what is coming is about hot air, that will be blowing out of the 3.5 councils' collective lungs as they puff up with their plans to spend those CRA dollars as fast as possible. And push for more bonds too. They've already been doing that.

  24. What is the preferred Shenanigan fuel? Bonds. Haven't these people ever heard of living within your means. Sierra Madre lasted a long time in pretty good shape because we USED to live within our means.

  25. The CRA is a mechanism that allows government to use the taxpayer's money against their interests and without them having any say so.

  26. Great summation 12:29.

    It appears that Governor Brown agrees with you.

    Maureen @8:57, instead of couldshouldawoulda, how about
    Better late than never

  27. The EVG numbers are not done yet - identity crimes spread far and wide. But murder, now that causes a lot of attention and discussion. The looney views must have been desperate.

  28. Susan Henderson faces a lot of challenges right now. But none greater than avoiding stories that might make Joe Mosca look bad.

  29. I stopped shopping in Sierra Madre. After the gas station incident, I simply don't feel safe, let alone protected in our city.

  30. Maureen, John's ol' ladyFebruary 3, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    Just sick and tired of walkin' through all the politico's cow pies and horse $%#^. Ya it may happen but we paid the cost.

  31. Actually, the big bulk of CRA money was spent on low income senior housing:

    I know because I would really like to get my mom over there, but no one is moving because the rent is so low and the place is still nice.

  32. 2:12, another reason it's hard to get your mom in that senior housing is because Sierra Madre's CRA money was just a part of the deal. There were other revenue sources, and that meant the housing had to be open to one and all, no preference for Sierra Madre residents.
    Another decision to argue about.

  33. That complex is not Sierra Madre Senior Housing.

    It's California Senior Housing in Sierra Madre.

    Maybe Global Senior Housing in Sierra Madre..

  34. Anybody remember what blight the CRA got rid of on the senior housing site?

  35. I gotta ask, what were the residents of this town doing 15, 20 years ago?
    Just sleeping while the whole damn set up was going on?????

  36. Brown and Chiang have got to act like yesterday to save any of the money left in the CRAs.

  37. 2:52, the residents were not all sleeping. Maybe they were like the residents were last April. Snookered. Some fine people were tricked into supporting Bart Doyle. Mosca wasn't the first politico to say one thing and do another.

  38. Does anybody know how to get on the waiting list for that senior housing?

  39. Does the blight ordinance apply to the city?
    If so, the city should fine itself for letting the church on Highland deteriorate.

  40. Much of the money for Senior Housing came from state agencies. The waiting list includes people from all over California. Our money was spent, sure. At least in part. But this is no way gives any favor to those from Sierra Madre.

  41. 2:52, Many fine people were active in their oversight and we have them to thank that today's condition of the community isn't much worse than it sometimes seems. Their names are both famous and infamous but sadly, as is the case today, they were seniors and far too many have passed. If you are active in Sierra Madre, if you are a Council watcher, a service club member, a volunteer, a committee or commission member, don't think for a moment that bright, savy, intelligent and generous residents didn't preceed you in your activities.

  42. This blog, just like so many others, is anything but Democratic in its process and function. You got one guy, 1, with total and absolute editorial power about what gets seen by the public. The editor, owner, caretaker of this blog has an agenda and he, she, will post like kind articles to bolster their views and buttress a paradigm they believe in, please, just as in legitimate news sources read blogs with a grain of salt.

  43. Oooooooo! Big words! Buttress. Paradign. Must be a techno journo and I bet I know who he works for...

  44. You mean to say that the guy who writes this blog expresses his opinion?

    Go on!

  45. Obviously someone disagrees with Mr. Watts and his assessment of this blog.

  46. I would be curious to read what 4:58 believes to be a legitimate local news source. Where exactly are the paradigms most sublime?

  47. 4:58

    Crawford put up your post didn't he?
    He didn't delete your opinion, did he?
    Well, 4:58, he'll probably delete mine, because I'm going to identify you as a first class A-hole!

  48. 4:58, John Crawford should be the Sierra Madre citizen of the year. No one works harder than he does on serving the community.

  49. If it weren't for the Tattler, the residents of this town would have no chance to get out of the ignorant state of denial that the 3.5 council is promoting.

    The pablum propaganda out of city hall reflected in the other papers and blogs is journalism? Puleeeze.

  50. I have disagreed with Crawford on more than one occasion, but he has always posted my comments. I know that he gets obscene posts from the opposition routinely, and so maybe that's why some of yours have not been posted 4:58. Keep it clean and on point, and your comments will get through.
    Or you can always do what some have been invited to do before: make your own blog. It's easy and free.

  51. That's not a picture of Winnie the Pooh up top. It's 4:58.

  52. 4:58
    Blogs, by their very nature, aren't democratic. Of course the Mod & Modette have an agenda, THAT'S WHY WE READ THE TATTLER! (sorry to shout fellow Tattlers, but this idiocy cannot go unanswered)
    As far as the comments go, all points of view are represented, with the notable exception of those salty language types who just can't help themselves.
    Thank you so much for your simplistic explanation of what takes place on these fine pages, we the Tattlers were totally unaware of this until you were brave enough to shine the light of reason in the comments section. Your grasp of the obvious is a sight to behold. Feel free to get your local news somewhere else, if that is indeed what you seek, this clearly isn't the forum for you.

  53. Time to take actionFebruary 3, 2011 at 7:28 PM

    Tattler blocked at my office so I listen to the radio. Been glued to the people of EGYPT and thought all day: Joe is no leader and the G4 and Mubarak are no less than dictators, they do what they want and never listen to the people. Both need to be brought down.

    We in Sierra Madre have had it.
    Thank you Don for your great explanation of the RFP and another issue that has been taken away from us, just like the water issue. How much longer do we have to wait and watch our town crumble in the hands of mumbling idiots?

    Thank you Sir Eric for your fabulous reporting. Can't we print this and pass it all out all over town?

  54. 4:58 Nothing to see here just move along, he may be just one guy, but he has 30 thousand fans a month. Was that a drop by word fruiting? Hey, come back here you little creep, I got your democracy for ya!!!!

  55. The thing that gets me about posts like that is there is nothing about what that person believes is a suitable viewpoint or publication for advocating it. If someone wants to be taken seriously, they need to give a reason for it.


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