The City staff and council hosted a meeting one night this past fall called Urban Legends and Myths about urban renewal. This document was prepared by former Mayor of Littleton, Doug Clark, in response to the flyer printed and distributed by the city.
Claimed Urban Legend: Tax Increment Financing (TIF) will reduce tax revenue available to Littleton Public Schools (LPS), South Suburban Parks and Recreation, and Arapahoe County.
Truth: LIFT has no ability to impose taxes. The only tax revenue LIFT can receive comes from taking taxes levied by other taxing entities.
The City and LIFT are playing a game of semantics on whether or not this “reduces” revenue going to other taxing entities, while at the same time negotiating with LPS, South Suburban Parks and Recreation, and Arapahoe County about how much of their revenue LIFT will take.
Claimed Urban Legend: The City can condemn my house and redevelop the property.
Truth: Urban renewal law indeed does give the City the power to condemn your house and redevelop your property, which is exactly what happened with the Riverfront Redevelopment urban renewal project.
It is true that the City Council passed a resolution saying it would not approve any urban renewal project which contains condemnation. But the reality is that the City will be required by urban renewal law to clear 350 “slum” houses if it passes the Santa Fe plan. The likelihood this can be accomplished without condemnation is as remote
now as it was when the City cleared the Riverfront area.
The resolution of the Council promising to abstain from condemnation is no more permanent than the resolution of Council requiring a Council member be on the LIFT board – which Council repealed in July.
Urban Renewal Myths By the City and LIFT
Myth: Development and redevelopment will not happen without urban renewal.
Truth: Development and redevelopment have been happening for decades in Littleton without urban renewal. Lowes, Home Depot, Marathon at Dry Creek and Broadway are all examples of development and redevelopment which has happened without urban renewal.
Myth: Urban renewal is simply a financing mechanism.
Truth: Urban renewal is a mechanism for clearing slum and blight. How many “financing mechanisms” do you know which include condemnation, land use determinations, land covenants and deed restricts?
Myth: Urban renewal will concentrate redevelopment in the interior of the City, rather than the edges.
Truth: The first urban renewal project identified by LIFT is at the edge of the City: the Ensor property.
Myth: Urban renewal will help existing businesses.
Truth: Again – Ensor. The Ensor property is vacant: there are no existing businesses.
Myth: The developers will pay off the bonds.
Truth: Urban renewal authorities issue bonds to finance urban renewal projects. Any bonds issued by LIFT will be LIFT s responsibility to pay off. Which means LIFT will be using public money, i.e. tax dollars, to pay off bonds.
Myth: The City is not on the hook to pay off the bonds.
Truth: This is certainly true, and a reflection of the ethics of LIFT and the City. Extolling the ability to default on lenders as a virtue of urban renewal shows how far the City has sunk in the last 3 years.