Downtowns as Civic and Cultural Centers
Successful downtown redevelopment programs must include retention and expansion of civic and cultural amenities in the downtown as a major component of the program. This is not always a given. In some instances, public policies that are intentionally good may actually be detrimental to the health of downtowns. California’s Senate Bill 1407 is a classic example. In 2008, SB 1407 was authored by then Senate President pro tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, to provide funding to renovate forty-one of the sixty-eight courthouses in California’s thirty-four counties that had “critical or immediate needs.” The bill, signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, came with a $5 billion price tag. The cost of rebuilding the courthouses is expected to be financed through revenue bonds, increased court fees, penalties, and assessments. On the surface, this is a welcome bill, as it will help to improve courthouses across the state that need to be rehabilitated. As stated by the Governor:
Improving our state’s aging court facilities has been an integral part of my promise to Californians to rebuild our infrastructure and increase public safety. This bill not only delivers on that promise to finance desperately needed construction projects, but it will also help create thousands of jobs for California workers.