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Winter 2001, Finding The Blight That's Right for California Redevelopment Law

George Lefcoe
For over half a century, federal and most state laws empowering local governments to act as urban redevelopers have attempted to confine such activity to blighted areas. Nowhere have the statutory definitions of blight, and judicial enforcement of those standards, been more rigorous than in California. In two recent cases, Diamond Bar and Mammoth Lakes, appellate courts struck down redevelopment proposals for crossing the blight line. This paper describes those cases in light of the evolution of the blight requirement. It ends up questioning whether the 1993 California legislature was right in trying to limit local government’s use of redevelopment solely to those older urban areas showing unmistakable signs of physical decay.