Students and faculty gathered in the President’s Dining Room Monday as associate professor of public administration Marcia Godwin presented her talk on redevelopment in California as part of the faculty lecture series.
In her lecture, “Complexity Theory and Policy Collapse: The End of Redevelopment in California,” Godwin focused the redevelopment in California, or the lack there of, and how it has taken a negative toll on surrounding communities.
Godwin began by explaining how redevelopment works and how it is effective and ineffective in cities such as Pomona, Pasadena and Ontario.
“You have an area that overtime is not doing as well as it could and government would step in,” Godwin said. “The argument is that if you spent some money, you would create value.”
Godwin explained that to make redevelopment work, the city’s government must be able to correctly project whether spending money on fixing up that area will be beneficial in the end.
“The practice was that really didn’t happen and so it became increasingly subject to criticism,” Godwin said.
When a city spends taxpayer money to clean up a new downtown that does nothing for the city’s property value, it becomes money wasted, Godwin said. This is when the debate on redevelopment comes in.
Many who are skeptical or against the redevelopment policies are those who are seeing their money being taken away.
Much of this comes from teachers, administrators and school supporters who are seeing the taxpayer money go to the redevelopment agency and not to the school district to be divided up in other ways.
“As you add more redevelopment agencies, more money gets taken away from other things and if you have mandatory funding for schools, somebody is going to have to make that up,” Godwin said.
“And that is where some of the state criticism comes in.”
Spending money on redeveloping is a gamble that many city governments have become more willing to take, Godwin said.
Even with examples like the city of Stockton that is becoming bankrupt due to a miscalculation on money spent for redeveloping, city governments are continuing to take the risk.
Among those gathered in the PDR on Monday was organizational leadership doctorate candidate Vicki Calhoun, who has been following Godwin’s research and work on the redevelopment matter.
“I am all about education,” Calhoun said.
“I don’t care what they do with buildings or anything of that sort, but don’t take from our children cause they are our future.”
“For me, taking money away from schools was the reason why I was an advocate for abolishing redevelopment.”
After the presentation, Godwin left the later part of the afternoon for discussion as professors, faculty and students lingered for conversation.
Among the faculty was Associate Professor of Physics David Chappell who had come to hear Godwin’s presentation with a pre-existing background of complexity.
“Her talk gave an interesting example of how the complexity theory might be applied to something that is fairly far removed from what it is normally applied to,” Chappell said.
Alana Glenn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.