Steven Greenhut's essay in the Spring City Journal has struck a nerve with Glendora, California Mayor Doug Tessitor. A constituent sent Tessitor the link to Greenhut's piece, and asked him to comment. Tessitor assented, and made his case in two columns published at Glendora Patch. We published Greenhut's thorough reply to Tessitor at City Journal California on Friday.
The story doesn't end there.
In his article for the magazine and his follow-up for the website, Greenhut exposes the chasm between Republican lawmakers' rhetoric on property rights and eminent domain abuse and their actual records. "Tessitor's response is worth rebutting," Greenhut writes, "not because his arguments are exceptional but because they echo those of other California Republicans who defend redevelopment." And the gist of the pro-redevelopment agency's defense is, Yes, there may be problems with redevelopment and eminent domain in some places, but not in our city. No, we do redevelopment right.
Tessitor has posted his surrebuttal, which you can read in the comments of Steven's piece. The mayor reiterates some of his earlier points. Whatever abuses may have been committed in the name of redevelopment, Tessitor writes, "Those are exceptions, I believe, and do not justify removing a healthy economic driver from responsible communities under the guise of cutting the deficit."
The problem with redevelopment, however, is it diverts property tax revenue from public services into what amounts to a subsidy of private development. That affects the state budget because the legislature must then "backfill" the funding that redevelopment agencies divert from general revenues. Whether or not that's a "healthy" policy is arguable -- and so here we are!