The RDA fought the law, and the law won

As Rick blogged, the California Redevelopment Association inadvertently committed suicide at the state Supreme Court last week. Convinced by their lawyers that they would ultimately win in court, the Association's leaders had played hardball last year at the legislature in the face of attempts to end redevelopment. But the California Supreme Court ended up immolating the very compromise measure that would have salvaged some redevelopment, using the same voter-approved proposition that the Association had pushed to save redevelopment in the first place.

Unlike Rick, however, I am less sanguine about the impact of this decision on infill development going forward. There are generally two types of infill opportunities in California: 1) infill in high-demand markets, like San Francisco, Santa Monica, and Berkeley, that requires virtually no public subsidies and 2) infill in blighted neighborhoods, like Hollywood or Old Town Pasadena in the 1990s or downtown Oakland today, that need major public investment to attract sufficient private capital. Building in the high-value areas is often restricted by wealthy and organized neighbors. The classic example is the area around the Rockridge BART station in the Bay Area, where Berkeley neighbors have stymied development that could concentrate new growth around the multi-billion dollar rail line running through the neighborhood.

As a result, many infill developers have had to look to low-income or industrial neighborhoods to build projects. Read more of this post