The governor wins this round, with flying colors.
Not only did a California Supreme Court judge rule, this morning, that Assembly Bill 1X 26 -- which tried to abolish the agencies, and was signed by Brown in June -- is legal. The judge then ruled the other way on Assembly Bill 1X 27, a sort of consolation package that would have let an agency remain if it paid a large portion of its "profits" to the state.
As the court recalls in its final ruling today, "the California Redevelopment Association, the League of California Cities, and other affected parties ... promptly sought extraordinary writ relief from this court, arguing that each measure was unconstitutional."
But after today's loss, according to City News Service, "the agencies will be phased out when their contracted projects are completed." More from the ruling:
Assembly Bill 1X 26, the dissolution measure, is a proper exercise of the legislative power vested in the Legislature by the state Constitution. That power includes the authority to create entities, such as redevelopment agencies, to carry out the state's ends and the corollary power to dissolve those same entities when the Legislature deems it necessary and proper.
... A different conclusion is required with respect to Assembly Bill 1X 27, the measure conditioning further redevelopment agency operations on additional payments by an agency's community sponsors to state funds benefiting schools and special districts. Proposition 22 (specifically Cal. Const., art. XIII, § 25.5,subd. (a)(7)) expressly forbids the Legislature from requiring such payments
The idea behind state redevelopment agencies, at their inception in 1945, was that they would collect property-tax increases from areas of a city deemed "blighted" and reinvest that money into projects that would bolster the community.
The Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency, however -- along with many of its sister agencies across the state -- has earned a notorious reputation for making it rain on moneyed real-estate moguls instead of giving L.A.'s ghettos the ground-level attention they need. (See also: "Wealthy Eli Broad Gets $52 Million for a Garage; the Entirety of South L.A. Gets $32 Million." No joke.)
But the L.A. CRA also anticipated a move like this by the state. Earlier this year, in a series of shadowy meetings, city officials transfered almost $1 billion in CRA funds and projects to L.A. City Council coffers, where the assets would (presumably) be safe from Governor Brown's grab.
Updates to come as we figure out whether that stealth move will hold up under the court's new decision.
Update: Below is Governor Brown's statement on the victory -- one swaggy sentence, barely longer than a Tweet. Looks like he's taking the nonchalant, told-you-so approach.
"Today's ruling by the California Supreme Court validates a key component of the state budget and guarantees more than a billion dollars of ongoing funding for schools and public safety."