Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tuesday Must Read: Cities Push for Redevelopment Compromise; Bay Area Home Values Dropped by $387 Billion

By Robert Gammon
Tue, Jan 3, 2012 at 6:56 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. California cities are pushing the legislature to reestablish redevelopment agencies in the state — at least in blighted urban areas and near transit hubs — in the wake of last week’s Supreme Court decision, the LA Times reports. In cities such as Oakland and Los Angeles, which are plagued with areas of intense poverty, officials say redevelopment is essential to revitalization efforts and for affordable housing. Redevelopment, however, had been abused in suburban and wealthy areas where the definition of “blight” expanded to include tony shopping districts. It’s also unclear whether Governor Brown will sign any legislation that brings back redevelopment in urban areas.

2. The value of Bay Area homes plummeted $387 billion during the Great Recession, fueling the historic downturn as homeowners stopped borrowing on their properties and spending money, the Mercury News reports. Oakland was among the hardest hit cities. From 2007 to 2011, the average Oakland home lost $350,000 in value. In San Francisco, homes lost $205,000 on average. The major losses in home equity prompted consumers to curtail their buying habits, as they grew increasingly concerned about retirement.

3. Bay Area planning agencies are hammering out long-range plans to encourage denser urban development and so-called smart growth in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the CoCo Times reports. The plans would steer state transportation funding for housing to areas near major transit nodes — a move that is opposed by many suburbanites.

4. A five-year-old boy was killed by a stray bullet in East Oakland on Friday, becoming the third young child murdered in the city in 2011, the Bay Citizen reports. It also was Oakland’s 110th homicide of the year, making Oakland's murder rate the same as 2009. The city had 95 killings in 2010.

5. A Santa Cruz nonprofit is pushing a plan to begin cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, using a solar-powered catamaran that turns plastic into fuel, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports. The project is designed to bring attention to new technology that converts plastic waste back into fossil fuel.

6. And a gray wolf has crossed into Northern California from Oregon, becoming the first wild wolf in the state in a century, the Chron reports. The wolf’s presence is breeding excitement in the environmental community — and dread among the state’s cattle ranchers.

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