In California, they’re called redevelopment districts. In Kansas, we call them tax increment financing or TIF districts. By either name, they provide a way to channel money to politically favored developers.
The back-door way by which this is done benefits both parties: It hides what is really happening. A recent Los Angeles Times story held this:
“If the state Legislature were asked to directly appropriate money for local shopping centers or any of the other endless private economic development that local officials like, they would never do it,” said former assemblyman and Sacramento mayor Phil Isenberg, who championed redevelopment reform when he was in the Legislature. “Because the current state subsidy is mostly hidden, it continues. … You have to ask if it is worth the expenditure of massive state funds to continue the process.”