WHY SENATE BILL SB1 IS NOT A GOOD THING | Libertarian Party of San Francisco



On September 12, 2013, SB1 was ordered to Inactive File at the request of its author, Senator Darrell Steinberg.  Strange development, but perhaps an interesting move, considering Senator Steinberg is hoping for Governor Brown's favorable reception of two other of his bills:  Bill Prohibiting Detachable Magazines on Rifles (SB 374), and CEQA Modernization Bill (SB 743).

The bill was ordered on September 4 to a third reading in the Assembly, after passing Committee with 12 Yes and 5 No on August 30.  SB1 may not turn out to be the slam-dunk Steinberg may have been hoping for.  Even if it eventually passes the Legislature, it needs the approval of Governor Brown.  By way of background, in 2011 Governor Brown led the push to dismantle the California Redevelopment Agency, based on the Agency's dubious cost effectiveness.  But bureaucrats never cease in their efforts to bring this monster back from the dead.  SB1 is the latest effort.

Earlier, on August 21, 2013, SB1 was referred to the Suspense File to be evaluated again at a later date.  The Bill had passed Assembly Committee on August 14, 2013.  Votes were YES 6 (Levine, Alejo, Bradford, Gordon, Mullin, and Rendon), and NO 3 (Achadjian, Melendez, and Waldron). 


SB1, “Sustainable Communities Investment Authority,” written by CA Senators Darrell Steinberg and Mark DeSaulnier, is scheduled to be heard in California Assembly Local Government Committee On August 14, 2013, 1:30 pm (See Update above).

Why does the Libertarian Party of San Francisco care whether this bill passes?

We have been speaking out against Plan Bay Area for a couple of years. SB1 is PBA’s major funding mechanism.

Why should you care whether this bill passes?

  • If you said good riddance to the old Redevelopment Agency (remember the razing of the Fillmore District!), you will be disappointed to have mini-Redevelopment Agencies all over the Bay Area.
  • If you think your neighborhood could not possibly be declared blighted and therefore subject to eminent domain, you will be shocked to learn that it might be, under the guidelines for “blight” this bill contains.
  • If you believe We the People have control over the taxes we pay, you will be disuaded of that when faced with the “incremental financing” determined by your local bureaucrats which fund this bill.
  • If you think Plan Bay Area’s extensive redevelopment plans will bring a better standard of living to your family via plentiful jobs and “affordable housing” (all promised by this bill), you might be disappointed to find yourself embroiled in union labor disputes and priced out of a dense housing market (see LPSF’s article below discussing displacement of low-income families).

What can you do?

Whether you support or oppose this or any other bill is your right. We can only tell you what we believe based on the research we do. Call, write, e-mail, fax – get involved.  We have listed telephone numbers to call at the end of this article.

What has the Libertarian Party of San Francisco done?

We have called, written, e-mailed, faxed, and gotten involved.  Aubrey Freedman, our Chair, has written to the Assembly’s Local Government Committee stating the Libertarian Party of San Francisco's opposition to SB1.  The text of his letter is reproduced below.



August 10, 2013

Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, Chairman

Assembly Local Government Committee

1020 North Street, Room 157

Sacramento, CA 95814                   

Re: SB1 – Sustainable Communities Investment Authority


Dear Assemblyman Achadjian:


The Libertarian Party of San Francisco is very concerned about and has voted to oppose SB1, which is currently in committee in the California State Assembly. In addition to bringing back redevelopment, which has a history of racism and corruption, this bill will only contribute to the environment of ever-increasing taxes in California. It also includes a dangerous definition of “blight” that will enable governmental bureaucrats to declare almost any piece of private property subject to eminent domin. Lastly there is a lack of accountability in this bill since unelected bureaucrats will be making all the decisions and the citizens will have no say in how their taxes are spent.


Scattered throughout this bill are numerous references to “new sources of revenue.” This can only mean higher taxes, new taxes, or more governmental debt. Since local and state governments can only operate by collecting taxes from productive citizens, or borrowing money by indebting future taxpayers, this bill intends to create new government agencies with lofty, ambitious, and overreaching goals in mind. The end result will inevitably be more government and higher taxes. Aren’t taxes high enough in California? In some cities and counties, already the sales tax rates are almost 10%, the highest in the nation. Several cities in California have already gone bankrupt. Why increase the opportunities for higher taxation? Isn’t enough enough already?


This bill includes a new definition of “blight” that puts all property owners in California at risk. Traditionally property could only be taken when government was going to build something for the common good like a dam or highway. Then the Kelso ruling came along and government could now seize property and give it to private developers if it could be shown that such action would create more “revenue.” This bill goes even further by declaring that “inefficient land use patterns” can now be considered as “blight.” Chapter 2, Section 34191.20 (c) on page 5 of the bill says, “An authority created pursuant to this part may rely on the legislative determination of blight and shall not be required to make a separate finding of blight or conduct a survey of blight within the project area.” The bureaucrats don’t even have to go through the formality of investigating if the property really is a public health hazard or the sight of criminal activity—a mere determination is good enough. And who will decide what is “efficient” or “inefficient” use of the land? Obviously the unelected bureaucrats will. Since this bill is all about encouraging densely packed living in large cities, rural and suburban property owners will be most at risk—at first. However, once governmental bureaucrats have the legal power to declare any property as “blight,” under such loose and vague wording, any property owner anywhere in California may find the force of governmental authority used against him or her. Clearly government should be protecting property rights, not decimating them.


Finally there is a tremendous lack of transparency and accountability in this bill. These Sustainable Communities Investment Authorities will all be staffed by bureaucrats appointed by government officials. They will not be elected by the public. There will be no voting by the taxpayers on who serves on these agencies and no recourse if the taxpayers are displeased with the actions of the bureaucrats, especially when it comes to new taxes or governmental debt. In a democracy, as a last resort at least the taxpayers can always vote an elected official out of office. Can they do so when they didn’t even get to vote for the bureaucrat? In yet another example of total disregard for the taxpayers in SB1, Chapter 5, Section 34191.35 (a) on page 15 states, “The questionnaires and financial statements shall not be public records and shall not be open to public inspection.” This refers to the prequalification requirements of private developers bidding for the dense housing projects that are planned for all the urban areas of California if SB1 passes. These private developers stand to make millions off these projects—what are they hiding? Since these are all taxpayer monies, why shouldn’t the public have a right to know about their financial dealings and connections? Why shouldn’t this all be open to public scrutiny? If everything is all on the up-and-up, then what’s wrong with full disclosure? Something is amiss here.


Please vote NO on SB1. It spells disaster for the taxpayers of California.


Aubrey Freedman

Libertarian Party of San Francisco - Chair


Who To Call:   Talk to someone, or just call after work and leave a message!


Assembly Appropriations Commitee:

Mike Gatto (Chair)   916 319-2043

Diane Harkey (Vice Chair)   916 319-2073

Franklin Bigelow   916 319-2005

Raul Bocanegra   916 319-2039

Steven Bradford   916 319-2062

Ian Calderon   916 319-2057

Nora Campos   916 319-2027

Tim Donnelly   916 319-2033

Susan T. Eggman   916 319-2013

Jimmy Gomez   916 319-2051

Isadore Hall   916 319-2064

Chris R. Holden   916 319-2041

Eric Linder   916 319-2060

Richard Pan   916 319-2009

Bill Quirk   916 319-2020

Donald Wagner   916 319-2068

Shirley N. Weber   916 319-2079


State Assembly:
Katcho Achadjian  (916) 319-2035

Marc Levine  (916)319-2010

Luis A. Alejo  (916) 319-2030

Steven Bradford  (916) 319-2062

Richard S. Gordon  (916) 319-2024

Melissa A. Melendez  (916) 319-2067

Kevin Mullin  (916) 319-2022

Anthony Rendon  (916) 319-2063

Marie Waldron  (916) 319-2075