John Chiang Audit Hammers California Redevelopment Agencies: Millions of Dollars Gone from Affordable Housing Funds | The Informer | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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John Chiang Audit Hammers California Redevelopment Agencies: Millions of Dollars Gone from Affordable Housing Funds

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Tue, Mar 8, 2011 at 12:22 PM

click to enlarge Is this California's definition of "blight" if the neighbors are too sick or too fat?
  • Is this California's definition of "blight" if the neighbors are too sick or too fat?
Update: The Los Angeles City Council is deciding today whether to hide $1 billion in redevelopment cash from Governor Jerry Brown.

Few overweight or sickly Californians ever knew that the Los Angeles City Council and Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency tried to gin up a state law defining "blight," by bizarrely expanding "blight" to include streets with lots of sick or fat residents.

Assembly Bill 2531 was an Orwellian fright law. It was ghostwritten by the L.A. Community Redevelopment Agency and pushed by Felipe Fuentes, the "worst legislator in California." This week, the slime got thicker: State Controller John Chiang's audit says the Los Angeles redevelopment agency wrongly slipped $883,000 out of an affordable housing fund in 2010, blowing it on "administrative fees." And Chiang warns he barely looked under the hood:

Chiang found in his quick audit of 18 RDA entities (Redevelopment Agencies) statewide, including the big and powerful one in Los Angeles, that many are not keeping proper books and none has a clue or can prove how many real jobs they have created.

And L.A.'s redevelopment agency is diverting scads of money out of its Low and Moderate Income Housing Fund -- $883,000 in 2010 alone -- and into bureaucratic overhead having nothing to do with building housing. Wrongly. Inappropriately. Illegally.

Chiang warns that the nearly $1 million he found is probably just the tip of the iceberg because Los Angeles city officials admit to him that they've been making these improper transfers for several years.

Chiang says:

These items were identified through a very limited review of transactions and a more thorough audit could uncover additional ineligible charges.

So surprised to hear that! But the truth is, nobody with any real power is watching the CRA. In Los Angeles, only the bloggers -- like citywatchla, and Village to Village and MayorSam, and RonKayeLA -- try to keep the agency clean.

That's just not enough.

This bad news about what's been going on at the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency comes as Governor Jerry Brown moves forward with his plan to do away with RDAs in California.

Brown wants to wipe them all out.

Brown wants to take away the $5 billion in public funds that the state's rich redevelopment agencies now control, diverting the money to help with state and county cutbacks in indigent health care, welfare programs, schools and the like.

click to enlarge Greedy California redevelopment agencies got outed by Controller John Chiang
  • Greedy California redevelopment agencies got outed by Controller John Chiang
Who will miss RDAs the most? Developers addicted to public subsidies for "redevelopment" and California's city-level politicians whose city council campaigns are heavily greased by the same developers that the grateful local politicians later help in return -- by subsidizing their development projects with RDA loot.

So keep this in mind, given Chiang's disturbing findings showing little accountability in many of the 18 RDAs he spot-checked:

If Los Angeles political and civic leaders including Eric Garcetti, Antonio Villaraigosa and Christine Essel had gotten their way in 2010, Felipe Fuentes' sweeping new definition of "blight" in California under AB 2531 -- a legal definition that's used to institute eminent domain proceedings and tear down homes, schools and businesses -- would have included all California neighborhoods where residents are deemed too sick or too fat.

The law making fat folks and people with lung disease or diabetes the new definition of blight passed the California State Legislature. Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a lucid moment, vetoed it.

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