The Benefits of Urban Redevelopment

Last Updated: March 15, 2011

The Benefits of Urban Redevelopment

March 15, 2011

Dear Editor,

The American Institute of Architects, California Council (AIACC), representing the interests of nearly 22,000 licensed architects in California, opposes the elimination of the state's Redevelopment Agencies. Redevelopment is an essential tool for economic development, and it is an indispensable tool for achieving the planned and transit oriented development goals of SB 375.

The AIACC recognizes that there have been misuses of redevelopment and that there is a clear need for reform to guard against abuse. We acknowledge the responsibility of every component of state government to contribute to the resolution of the current budget crisis. We support equitable distribution of scarce resources among the various public services upon which our communities depend.

Accordingly, we urge stakeholders to embrace a compromise solution, such as the alternative proposal of the Big 10 California Mayors, which provides for enhanced local revenue sharing, structural reforms to the redevelopment process, and a fair contribution by the redevelopment agencies toward the closing of the current deficit.

Some critics argue that the redevelopment process is not essential, that development "would happen anyway." It would, but not in the same way, in the same place, or to the same effect.

Many neighborhoods in Los Angeles have been improved substantially because of redevelopment. Hollywood is a major success story because of redevelopment. 20 years ago, Hollywood Boulevard was a truly blighted, unsafe area, filled with bars, liquor stores and pawn shops. Today it contains many important entertainment venues, hundreds of affordable housing units and a wide variety of commercial development. This incredible revitalization in less than two decades would not have happened without redevelopment.

Restoration and revitalization of historic structures, such as the Egyptian Theatre and the Cinerama Dome, has created important entertainment venues that have acted as catalysts of revitalization. Restoration and expansion of the Central Library downtown would not have been accomplished without redevelopment. This project was essential to the revitalization of the core of downtown Los Angeles.

Redevelopment has also created lots of affordable housing containing hundreds of units in architecturally significant structures- such as at Hollywood and Vine- mostly near transit. The Ralph's Supermarket/Condos project provided the first supermarket in downtown Los Angeles, built with redevelopment investment as part of a mixed use project including affordable housing. This supermarket is vital in creating a true neighborhood in South Park, where hundreds of market-rate housing units have also been recently built.

Without redevelopment, financing to address such intransigent situations would be unattainable. Development "would happen anyway", but in a way that extends sprawl, further burdens our deteriorating highway infrastructure, and separates affordable housing from jobs.

Redevelopment, through the mechanism of tax-increment financing, is uniquely capable of building the public-private partnerships that most effectively reweave the fabric of our cities, providing affordable housing, strengthening community, easing transportation, and preserving our agricultural and open lands.

The AIACC is confident that, working together, the Governor's Office, the legislature, our cities and our redevelopment agencies can craft reforms that will halt misuse, help close the current deficit, further the aims of SB 375, and provide even more effective support for the economic development of our cities.


Anne Laird-Blanton, AIA
2011 AIACC President

For further information please contact:
Mark Christian, Hon. AIACC
Director of Legislative Affairs
AIA California Council
Direct: 916-642-1708

Last updated: 10-Jan-2013 05:52 PM
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