October 03, 2010
Arrested Redevelopment: Cities often give short shrift to affordable housingLos Angeles Times | By Jessica Garrison, Kim Christensen and Doug Smith
Cities across California have skirted or ignored laws requiring them to build affordable homes and in the process mismanaged hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars, a Times investigation has found.
At least 120 municipalities - nearly one in three with active redevelopment agencies - spent a combined $700 million in housing funds from 2000 to 2008 without constructing a single new unit, the newspaper's analysis of state data shows. Nor did most of them add to the housing stock by rehabilitating existing units.
In case after case, The Times found, cities spent substantial sums for little return:
-- The San Gabriel Valley city of Irwindale spent $87 million from 2000 to 2008 but produced only 42 homes and 62 rehabilitated units. Some of the money was spent on industrial land next to an old gravel pit and warehouses, a site that officials now acknowledge was unsuitable for housing. New plans call for building a hot-sauce factory there.
-- In Santa Ana and Avalon, officials spent millions on projects that knocked down homes, displaced low-income people and worsened blight without producing anything in its place. Block after block in a 94-acre area east of Santa Ana's civic center is lined with boarded-up buildings and vacant lots. In the Santa Catalina Island city, where housing is so scarce that workers sometimes sleep in the bushes, a half-block of property where cottages were razed to make way for more homes has sat, sun-baked and undeveloped, for 15 years