Let’s start with some good news for a change. (Because the last item in this column is truly depressing!)
Activist David Lundin, along with representatives from the Balboa Park Committee of 100, the Save Our Heritage Organisation and preservationist/developer Sandy Shapery have joined together to craft a major event for the Balboa Park Centennial celebration in 2015.
Today they’ll be talking up a Community-conceived, planned and organized long weekend event [dates to be determined] in Spring of 2015 to both celebrate the Park’s past and work to secure its future. While specifics have to be determined, subject to public input, the general idea is to “Spring to the Past” throughout the park.
From their Facebook page:
Turn the clock back to 1915 for this one very special weekend. Come in period costume, or to see those who do. Think creative SteamPunk garb. Enjoy events, tours and exhibits featuring the look and feel of the original 1915 Panama-California Exhibition that created the core of the Park we all know, love and treasure. Free whenever possible. Very low costs if some fees are necessary.
Responsibility for all events for the 2015 Centennial year now rests with the City of San Diego Office of Special Events. This means the planning and execution for Balboa Park activities will as open and transparent as any governmental function can be.
After several years of secrecy and nearly $3 million spent with nothing to show for it, I believe things are finally on a good track. The groups involved are promising public forums to serve as incubators for additional original and creative ideas.. And, I’m told, over 200 people have already volunteered their services for this centennial event.
There are also discussions underway about a major fall centennial event focused on the future developing bio and electronic technologies, sustainable land use, water use, energy and agriculture in varied Balboa Park venues.
Of course there are no guarantees of success here. Some of the critics of the centennial planning process have been welcomed into the fold, so to speak. The result could be a co-opted dud. It’s more aspirational than reality at this point. But it’s a start.
At the very least it will be San Diego’s celebration, not some Disneyland-esque abomination crafted by out of town consultants paid for by downtown interests whose only concern is personal gain.
For today, I’m happy to say it appears the good guys have won.
Another “Job Killer” Stalks San Diego
The San Diego County Taxpayers Association (SDCTA) released a “study” this morning at a “debate” this morning on reforms proposed to Proposition 13, the Holy Grail of property tax regulation in California.
A bill in the California Legislature (AB2372) aiming to reform how commercial properties are reassessed under Proposition 13 has been gaining momentum in the last few weeks. At issue is a loophole commonly used by business and commercial property holders to avoid being reassessed following transfers of ownership.
By structuring sales of these properties so they won’t trigger state law’s definition of a change in ownership, new owners get to keep the properties’ existing assessed value — which can be decades old, and a lot lower than current market conditions — and, thus, avoid higher property tax bills.
At issue are the portions of the Revenue and Taxation code relating to the state’s definition of change of ownership. Even revising the underlying tax code requires a two-thirds majority in the legislature, and there are Republicans who have indicated they’ll support this bill. (It only takes a few)
Via the San Francisco Chronicle:
A deal involving computer maker Michael Dell has also been cited routinely by those looking to change Prop. 13. Dell and several business partners avoided paying $1 million a year in property taxes by structuring the 2006 purchase of a Santa Monica hotel in a way so that it did not appear as a change in ownership, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The SDCTA press release seems to conflate AB2372 with other proposals to create a “split-roll” property tax system. The bill currently under consideration does not create a split roll, but I’m guessing any confusion in that area was probably good for attendance at their event this morning.
We’re told –drumroll– that a “split-roll” would have an “initial negative economic impacts of moving to a “split-roll” system to be as high as $355.4 million annually — equating to 2,240 lost jobs in San Diego County alone.”
The California Chamber of Commerce and the California Business Roundtable are supporting AB2372 and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. has dropped its initial opposition. And pigs are flying somewhere…(h/t Republican Assemblyman Brian Nestande of Palm Desert)
Where There’s Smoke…
UT-San Diego reports City Auditor Eduardo Luna has filed a $60,000 claim against the city of San Diego.
Luna is asking the city to pay $60,580 in legal fees the auditor incurred after the office of former Mayor Jerry Sanders opened an investigation into alleged wrongdoing by the auditor, examining his response to an employee injury involving a balance board.
Perhaps more important, Luna accuses city officials of hampering his ability to properly perform his duties overseeing City Hall spending and operations.
“In addition to failing to honor the required reimbursement of legal fees reasonably and necessarily incurred by the City Auditor, City officials are not honoring the assigned areas of responsibility given to the City Auditor under Charter Section 39.2,” Luna wrote.
The position of City Auditor is supposed to be a check on the “strong mayor” system approved by voters back in 2010. If the allegations in the complaint are taken at face value, “strong Mayors” going back to Jerry Sanders have usurped that role.
A 2012 report by Luna detailing problems within the Development Services Department–including the finding that 1 in 5 construction permit applications was wrongly billed– was widely seen as an embarrassment to the Saunders administration.
Shortly thereafter Luna was accused of covering up an accident inside his office in which an employee was injured. Ultimately the City Auditor was cleared of any wrongdoing. The city says there was no connection between the investigation and the Development Service Report.
The complaint by Luna also cites recent examples wherein the Auditor’s office has been bypassed, including an investigation into $1 million in missing SDPD funds derived from a federal drug-forfeiture account.
Mt Soledad: If It Walks Like a Duck…
Over at City Beat Edwin Decker does a terrific job of dicing and slicing through the bullshit surrounding the arguments the Mount Soledad Memorial Association hopes to bring before the Supreme Court claiming its cross is not a religious symbol.
It’s a matter of context, he says, pointing out times in the past where the cross on the mountain has been referred to as “a gleaming white symbol of Christianity” and other similar descriptors. It wasn’t even called memorial until 1989, after a lawsuit was filed.
And then he tells us how he really feels:
Finally, there is this most damning bit of “context”—actually it’s both context and history, as it refers to what was going on in La Jolla in 1954, when the cross was erected: It was at that time that the village of La Jolla harbored a persistent, institutional contempt for Jewish people. The documentation is abundant, but it was in the housing industry where these sniggering pigs oinked the ugliest.
It was called “The La Jolla Covenant,” a pact among real-estate firms and home sellers not to sell or rent to Jews. It was a full-on conspiracy administered by the La Jolla Real Estate Brokers Association, which would notify local real-estate offices when a descendant of Jacob was perusing the market.
Yup, that’s what was happening at the time when the good citizens of La Jolla mounted their “Get bent” cross on top of the highest mountain in ScrewJewland. There’s your history and context that supposedly confirms that the cross is, and was always meant to be, a war memorial.
Good stuff. Now if we can just get those La Jolla “Christians” to change the name of their holiday parade…
What if They Gave An Election and Nobody Came?
PR Guy/Pollster John Nienstedt, Sr. isn’t somebody I’d normally quote in this column. Oh he’s got all the usual “scientific” credentials backing up his work at Competitive Edge Research and Communications and his client list includes everybody from the Red Cross to Cox Communications.
However, his case studies page starts off with Carl DeMaio and goes downhill from there. I guess Republicans need consultants/pollsters too, and it looks like he does a credible job. He’s just on the other side of the political fence from where I normally stand.
In San Diego,voter fatigue has set in. After the white hot 2012 Mayoral race led to the wrenching Bob Filner era and then to two rapid-fire elections to succeed the disgraced Mayor, voters are worn out. Sure, there are those who have a consistent history of voting; hopefully we can count on them showing up. But only 22% of registered voters fall into this vote-every-time category so they’re not the ones who will push voter turnout higher.
That would have to come from what we call moderate propensity voters – those who may or may not vote depending on what’s on the ballot, how much prodding they get from the campaigns and, frankly, how they feel on election day. Right now, they’re not feeling well at all.
Consider this: two weeks before the November 2013 special election, 13.6% of San Diego’s voters had cast a mail ballot. Voter turnout was eventually 35.5% in that election. Fast forward to two weeks out from this June’s election and only 6.2% had cast a mail ballot. If I use November’s early returns as a guide, I get an unfathomably pathetic turnout of 16%! That’s unheard of for a scheduled citywide election in San Diego.
And I’ll buy into his conclusion:
Come on San Diego, it’s rally time! Prove me wrong.
This could be the election where a low turnout doesn’t favor incumbents and Republicans, if specific interest groups like the LGBTQ community (Boo–Dinosaur Dronenburg!) and residents of Barrio Logan (Yes on B&C!) bother to go the polls. Have you voted? Will you vote?
On This Day: 1946 -At least 30,000 workers in Rochester, N.Y., participated in a general strike in support of municipal workers who had been fired for forming a union 1957 – National League club owners voted to allow the Brooklyn Dodgers to move to Los Angeles and that the New York Giants could move to San Francisco. 1998 – Dr. Susan Terebey discovered a planet outside of our solar system with the use of photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.
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