The Olympia City Council is considering an ordinance for a Community Renewal Area downtown that is intended to eliminate blight, promote economic development, and stimulate tax revenues. Under the guise of eliminating blight, the CRA is actually a scheme about urban redevelopment. The Public Policy Institute of California studied 114 CRA agendas and found that they were not responsible for net economic growth, but were a net drain on public resources.
CRA agendas ascribe to outdated market-based speculations and new development blight that are not amenable to robust 21st century urban scientific testing and analysis. CRA schemes involve the seizure of private property. Their credo is: “What’s mine is mine … and what’s yours is mine!” Land developers partner with city government’s eminent domain powers to obtain otherwise untouchable private property.
Further, CRA machinations publicly subsidize infrastructure for private commercial development. If free markets work, then the fact that public assistance is needed proves the CRA enterprise is in and of itself inadequate. At the very least, downtown businesses would be competing against entities subsidized with the businesses’ own tax dollars.
Let’s try something different to improve the quality of living in downtown Olympia. Focus on the old city center to stimulate venture capital for development of residential neighborhood growth and employment density, instead of the isthmus, Fourth/State, and West Bay. Publicly explore responsible choices, instead of the CRA ploy that will outsource public interests to private land developers. Say no to the CRA agenda.
Paul Christian Ingman