The Small City Leading the New Era of Redevelopment in California
Joe Mathews reports from La Verne, a small city of about 32,000 residents located on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County that has taken on a massive experiment in the state of California.
That’s because this city — for its own reasons — has formed one of California’s first EIFDs. The acronym stands for enhanced infrastructure financing district, a new government entity that the Legislature has championed for addressing California’s massive housing shortage and infrastructure deficit.
But EIFDs are unproven, and only a handful of California places have established them. In fact, EIFDs are a much weaker tool than the redevelopment agencies that localities relied upon for major projects before 2012, when redevelopment was eliminated because the agencies grabbed revenues that otherwise would have gone to schools.
EIFDs work similarly — designate a certain area for improvement and then capture the increased tax receipts — but state lawmakers put limits on their ability to take revenues from other taxing entities.
La Verne is deploying the EIFD in anticipation of a forthcoming light rail station connecting to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Gold Line, expected to open in 2026. La Verne has a bustling "Old Town" district, is home to the University of La Verne, and is located next door to the Fairplex facility which hosts the county fair and other large events throughout the year. La Verne was also hit hard by the foreclosure crisis of the Great Recession and subject to affordability concerns like most California communities in large metropolitan areas in 2019.
According to Mathews, other parts of the state are eager to see the results of La Verne's experimentation to consider EIFDs connected to large projects like the restoration of the Los Angeles River or the extension of BART through San Jose.
Planetizen blogger Linda Day wrote a detailed explanation of EIFDs back in 2016.