Every dollar a city spends on real estate ventures through its redevelopment agency is a dollar in property taxes that the state, schools, counties and cities cannot spend on the basic services.
Why are fire stations closing? Why is the county jail on skeleton staffing? Why has college tuition doubled? In part because city redevelopment agencies systematically skim property taxes — billions of dollars worth statewide — off the top.
To spend on what? Sometimes worthy ventures like affordable housing or the overhaul of aging streets and sewer lines. Sometimes on civic improvements that beautify cities.
But all too often redevelopment money simply subsidizes businesses that cities hope will goose their sales taxes. Redding's potential purchase of the Dana Drive Costco building as part of a deal to move the retailer to Oasis Road is a prime example. Does anyone outside City Hall think that scheme is the best use of increasingly scarce tax dollars?
It might be too much to ask of city officials that they embrace a change that makes their jobs more difficult. The rest of us, though, should ignore this parochial bellyaching and keep an eye on the big picture.