The California Supreme Court on Thursday gave Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers the right to eliminate community redevelopment agencies in a crucial victory on the state budget.
But the fate of the more than 400 redevelopment agencies remains unclear as cities — and even many lawmakers — vowed to seek a legislative compromise next year that would ensure the agencies' survival. Brown has little incentive to go along.
The court affirmed the state's authority to dissolve the agencies, calling it "a proper exercise of the legislative power vested in the Legislature by the state constitution." Doing so means more of the property taxes generated within redevelopment zones will go toward schools, law enforcement and other local services, freeing up as much as $1.7 billion in the state general fund during the current fiscal year. The money now is returned to the agencies to spend on future redevelopment projects.
Lawmakers and the mayors of several large cities said Thursday they were inclined to work out a compromise after the justices issued their split decision. While they affirmed the Legislature's authority to dissolve redevelopment agencies, the justices in a unanimous decision invalidated companion legislation passed last summer that was intended to keep the agencies operating by forcing them to direct a certain amount of property tax revenue to schools and other services.