Monday, May 08, 2006

Beyond Talking Points: Development Done Right

There's been some criticism of Phil Angelides for being a developer and receiving a large portion of his contributions from developers. Angelides says he's proud of his record so I figured I'd take a look to see if Angelides experience as a developer has helped him develop sound policy as state treasurer. I think his record shows how smart policy can lead to economic opportunity, economic justice and good urban development--toward more sustainable communities and a cleaner environment. (NOTE: This will be long and with a lot of links--I have an hour to kill between experiments.)

Let's start with a 2000 report by the Clinton-Gore Administration, Building Livable Communities, Sustaining Prosperity, Improving Quality of Life, Building a Sense of Community. This is what they have to say about California:
Phil Angelides, State Treasurer of California, has led a movement to mobilize the state’s financial resources to promote smart growth. Marking a fundamental shift in state policies that govern the flow of billions of dollars, Angelides’ Smart Investment plan contains several programs to assist community development and disadvantaged homebuyers. Since the announcement of the effort in June 1999, about $10 billion in investment and capital has been focused on smart growth initiatives. In addition, in May 2000 the Treasurer announced another major policy initiative called the Double Bottom Line. This initiative calls for the direction of more than $8 billion in investment capital to spur economic growth in California’s emerging markets – those communities left behind in the state’s current economic boom. (p. 19)
For those interested, you can take a look at Angelides' Smart Investments program for yourself. I emphasized the fact that Angelides has, and continues to be a leader in this effort.

OK, so you may not like Clinton or Gore. They aren't the only one's appreciating the work that Phil has been doing from pretty much his first day as treasurer. The National Governor's Association's Center for Best Practices had a report in 2001 called New Community Design in which they similarly recognized Angelides work:
State Treasurer Philip Angelides has been an advocate of steering financial help to sustainable development, which he defined as, “Land uses that support transportation options beyond more freeways and roads. It means a better mix of housing in communities and neighborhoods. It means locating jobs near housing and balancing job growth with new housing, communities centered around civic spaces, and well-planned higher density use of land.”89

This matches NCD. In September 2000, he noted that more than $7 billion in public funds over the next three years would be redirected in pursuit of the “smart investment” goals of community reinvestment and sustainable growth. He noted that the state rewards projects “within walking distance of transit, schools, parks and shopping.”90

He has also noted what the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), which together have $270 billion in capital invested globally, are doing in this area: “In the last year, those [pension] funds have committed $1 billion in new capital investment for urban, in-fill development—from mixed use to office to commercial to housing—targeted to California communities. These investments are designed to bring the funds market returns as we support “smart growth” with our State’s investment capital.”91 (p. 67)
Not only has Angelides' work been recognized and appreciated by the Clinton-Gore Administration, but the nation's governors have already recognized his leadership.

Funders Network "is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that exists to inspire, strengthen and expand philanthropic leadership and funders’ abilities to support organizations working to improve communities through better development decisions and growth policies. It brings together foundations, nonprofit organizations and other partners to address the range of environmental, social, and economic problems caused by development strategies that fail to consider the big picture." They also recognize Phil Angelides' leadership and good policies.
The State Treasurer: State Treasurer Philip Angelides has emerged as a powerful advocate of state-level smart growth reform. The treasurer’s office has issued two major reports on smart growth. Smart Investments, issued in 1999, advocated that the state adopt an infrastructure investment strategy based on the principles of livable communities and sustainable development. The next year the treasurer issued The Double Bottom Line: Investing in California’s Emerging Market, outlining an ambitious urban reinvestment agenda.

The treasurer has spearheaded several policy initiatives to implement the recommendations in these reports. Major initiatives include the adoption of smart growth criteria to guide a number of state grant and loan programs, including $1.4 billion in investments by the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank; $1.6 billion in low-cost financing for affordable housing, pollution control, job creation, and brownfield cleanup; and a Smart Growth Planning Grant program to assist local governments to plan projects that incorporate smart growth principles.82

The treasurer, with assistance from the California Center for Regional Leadership, is currently developing the 21st Century Fund, an initiative to focus investment in California’s “emerging markets” – underserved rural and urban communities that could benefit from business development, housing, and other investments. As a member of the governing board, the treasurer has also prodded CalPERS and STRS – pension funds for public employees and teachers with huge assets and tremendous national influence on the institutional investment community – to focus more of their investment portfolio on urban reinvestment in California.(p. 29)

...

Find and use powerful levers: Phil Angelides entered the treasurer’s office in 1999 with a strong interest in addressing the economic, social, and environmental consequences of the state’s growth. He used the levers of his office – his standing as the state’s chief investment officer and his position on a number of state boards and commissions – to advance the smart growth agenda by focusing on “smart investments:”
  • An annual report on debt affordability that his office was required to prepare was used to make the case for the smart investments agenda.
  • The criteria for distributing affordable housing funds were changed to give priority to projects near transit and with other smart growth features.
  • The treasurer used his seat on the State Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank to persuade his colleagues to approve a set of smart growth criteria to govern loans by the bank to local agencies, and his positions on the board of the CalPERS and STRS retirement system boards to encourage reinvestment in urban communities.
  • The treasurer sponsored legislation to beef up programs within his office to cleanup brownfields, promote clean energy technology, and provide planning grants to local agencies for smart growth developments.


By finding and using a set of powerful levers over which he had influence, the treasurer – with support from smart growth advocates and their allies – was able to set in motion a number of public policy initiatives that will advance the smart growth agenda in California.(p. 41)

...

State Treasurer Angelides has promoted the idea of “smart investments” and has initiated several administrative reforms to implement the concept. His office is currently developing the 21st Century Initiative to leverage investment of private capital in disadvantaged communities.(p. 43)
Again, you can take a look at "Smart Investments" and "The Double Bottom Line" for yourself.

At the sake of coming off pretentious and present drastic overkill, I came across even more recognition of Phil Angelides' strong record of leadership. Over at Smartgrowth.org, they have a list of news articles that highlight the work that Angelides' has been doing:
CalBuild Proposal Would Invest $15 Billion in State Public Employee Funds for Urban Smart Growth

With Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's bond-based $222 billion public works plan still in the legislature and his approval percentage only in the mid-30s, state Democratic Treasurer and gubernatorial hopeful Phil Angelides presented a proposal to use $15 billion in public employee funds for infrastructure investment focused on urban smart growth, saying, ''We need to find innovative ways to finance infrastructure beyond general obligation bonds and beyond traditional government finance mechanisms.''

Called CalBuild, reports Oakland Tribune writer Steve Geissinger, the treasurer's proposal would tap the combined $337 billion portfolio of the California Public Employees Retirement System and the California State Teachers Retirement System, promising them an up to 8 percent interest return, which might otherwise benefit only private firms, including Australia's Sydney-based Macquarie Infrastructure Group.

The largest toll road developer worldwide, the group expects more American business and investment options as state and local governments, pressed to build roads, look at variants of use-based fees instead of new public taxes.

''The opportunity to invest in our infrastructure ought not to belong to foreign or private companies alone,'' the treasurer stressed. ''We ought to have the opportunity to invest in these projects.''

Democratic Senate President Don Perata and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez like the proposed pension fund investment as a good supplement to the prospective infrastructure bonds.

''This is a creative approach that could help address, along with the bond funding we are working on, California's massive infrastructure need,'' said the Senate president. ''I hope the pension funds will take a close look at the steps Treasurer Angelides is proposing.'' -- Oakland Tribune 4/4/2006

...

Smart Growth Grants Bring Affordable Housing Funds to California Cities

Under bills sponsored by State Treasurer Phil Angelides' office and Democratic Senator Tom Torlakson, the California Pollution Control Financing Authority awarded nine cities ''smart growth'' grants totaling $2.5 million and promised to distribute $2.5 million more among other winners from the 120 applicants by the month's end. The grants will help cities spur infill, expand affordable housing, improve transit-station areas and upgrade streets in older neighborhoods. Senator Torlakson said ''there's a huge need and keen interest in cities to do the right thing.'' Treasurer Angelides, who chairs the authority, added, ''We thought these were good projects that had value for the communities where they're located, but could also show the rest of California, and policy-makers, too, what the possibilities are to grow more intelligently.'' 10/9/2002

...

In a Sacramento Bee article on Downside to fixing up cities: 'Smart growth' policies may hurt poor residents, Andrew LePage writes that smart growth is being checked by fair-growth - a movement to limit the gentrification of restored urban neighborhoods and the displacement of poor and ethnic residents. Reporting from a housing conference at the University of California-Berkeley, the writer quotes Fannie Mae Foundation researcher Robert Lang, who after a detailed smart-growth presentation by state Treasurer Phil Angelides warned the audience, if you are going to enact smart-growth policies, you need to make sure you have housing affordability and housing subsidy programs in place, too. In a later press interview, the treasurer emphasized that gentrification is among his top concerns. He proved it last year by securing state tax credit subsidy preferences for builders of affordable housing in low-income neighborhoods. At the forefront of the growing fair-growth movement, the writer places Oakland-based PolicyLink, led by Angela Glover Blackwell. She notes that despite smart-growth efforts to promote the three E's of sustainability - environment, economy and equity - debate has been dominated by conservationists and developers who neglect the third E. Equity, she says, keeps falling off the table and we think the way to keep it on the table is to lead with it. She adds that the nation's booming economy, anti-sprawl initiatives and the influx of affluent professionals to inner cities are driving up housing prices and often forcing out long-time residents, as is now happening in San Francisco's heavily Latino Mission District. The writer says the potentially divisive issues will be further examined at the Fannie Mae Foundation national housing conference, November 1 in Atlanta. - Sacramento Bee 9/27/2000

...

A San Francisco Chronicle editorial entitled Traffic, Housing, Jobs: Let's Connect the Dots, supports smart growth efforts by two East Bay Hills area Democratic state legislators, Senator Don Perata and Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, and by State Treasurer Phil Angelides. The legislators are working together on three bills based on the logical premise that their seemingly different local problems are all interlinked and require regional solutions. The bills would help identify the most cost-effective ways of relieving the area's congestion and fund those promising the greatest returns; make the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission evaluate the region's jobs-housing balance and propose incentives for greater densities; and return state property taxes to local governments that promote residential projects in job centers with housing shortages. Treasurer Angelides, who is directing state investments to housing in poor communities and to projects near transit and schools, told the daily's editorial board that urban infill projects relieve congestion while bringing solid returns. He described his efforts as having a lot to do with trying to overcome market ignorance. The editorial adds that Angelides is also pushing for legislation to make the state's leasing policies consistent with an anti-sprawl philosophy - a potentially big help, since the overall amount of office space leased by state government exceeds the total square footage in downtown Los Angeles. 5/26/2000

...

The San Francisco Bay Area growth rate has been nine time faster for jobs than for housing since 1995, reflecting "boom times" on the one hand, and on the other "rising housing prices, congestion and sprawl," says state Treasurer Phil Angelides. Reporting from San Francisco, Washington Post writer E. J. Dionne Jr. describes Angelides as confident that California can again set a national trend, this time for curbing sprawl, because "if we can change direction here, it will ripple out." The writer points out that the treasurer is using his office to link three issues he considers crucial to the state's future: the public investment decline, the growing rich-poor gap and sprawl. He wants state investments to leverage projects that would curb sprawl while helping low-income residents, especially by revitalizing inner cities and older suburbs. His next goal, the writer says, "is to persuade Gov. Gray Davis, a fellow Democrat, to join him in pushing for smart growth criteria in dispensing the $475 million in state's infrastructure bank." 11/22/1999

...

Since taking office in January, California Treasurer Philip Angelides has stirred public attention with such disturbing questions as why American public pension funds should be invested in volatile emerging market overseas, when they could be more profitably invested in the nation's inner cities. According to a syndicated columnist, Neal Pierce, American public pension funds hold $242 billion in foreign stocks, $35 billion of which is California Public Retirement System investments in 48 countries. Pierce agrees with Angelides that this money could help rebuild America's Òolder cities and curb wasteful and environmentally risky sprawl development at the urban fringe.Ó The columnist notes that Angelides has replaced his office's previous lottery system for allocating $450 million in affordable housing tax credits with Òsmart growth incentives.Ó Now the office is awarding extra points Òfor projects within a quarter mile of transit, or walking distance to an elementary school, or in a depressed area with a holistic community redevelopment process underway.Ó 7/27/1999

...

State Treasurer Phil Angelides released his annual bond report four months ahead of time, to broaden the debate about state infrastructure investment and help lawmakers assess the need to curb sprawl and revitalize inner cities. A former real estate developer and known Democratic activist, Angelides is "heartened" by the idea of smart growth emerging as the nation's hottest new political creed. Warning the state against a division into rich and poor societies, he says, "We cannot continue our expansion of the urban fringe and expect that our quality of life will be maintained." The Treasurer plans sessions on the subject with politicians and business groups throughout the state in the next two weeks. His report estimates that the state has the means to issue $32.5 billion in additional bonds over the next ten years to invest in smart growth, and to fight sprawl and urban decay. 6/25/1999
Bottom line: There's real reason why so many prominent state leaders have endorsed Phil. He's a leader. And those who criticize his role as a developer should take a minute to see how it has helped him become a national leader in smart and more sustainable development. When it comes down to it, I see Angelides as leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. More on some of his other issues later (time permitting).

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