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Do you ever just sit around and wonder how many government entities exist in the San Diego region and what do they all actually do? If you don’t, I do. Sad, huh?

So I got right to work and started researching on the internet (thanks Al Gore). I checked out the following websites: county, city, the Association of Governments (SANDAG), the Graphic Information System (SANGIS), the Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the County Taxpayers Association. No luck

From the guv-ment sites to the acronym sites. So far. Somebody has got to be keeping tracking of this stuff right? I hope, and I’m gonna keep looking around later but right now I’ve got a blog to write and famous quotes to mess up.

So I placed a call to my good friend Lani Lutar over at the Taxpayers Association. By some miracle, she just happened to have a copy of the 1995 San Diego Region Citizens’ Commission on Government Efficiency and Restructure (“SANCOGER”) report handy. I mean seriously, who has the SANCOGER report just lying around? It was a miracle!

The data from that 1995 report says that there are 18 cities and one county (ok, this we know has not changed). The next line is great

as best as we can determine 150 special districts in the region, 43 school districts, 5 community college districts, 26 mello-roos districts, 80 assessment districts … 25 public non-profit corporations and joint powers agencies created by governments, and 17 government units established by state legislation.

That’s 365 units of government. Now, granted, some things have changed. A few school districts have unified and the airport authority landed.

So to be safe, let’s say it’s over 350 at least, ok?

The report also says that there are “more than 865 elected officials.” Ah hah. Now we know the real reason why there are so many government entities.

What do all of these governments do? They spend billions of taxpayer dollars, have staffs, offices and don’t like to talk to each other. Isn’t that peachy? Do we really need 150 special districts and 43 school districts? Why all of the fire districts and no county fire department?

Why do some communities still have separate elementary and high school districts instead of a unified school district?

Some of these agencies have such fragmented appointment authority that there is zero accountability to the public. In fact, I’m sure most people on the street couldn’t name a majority of these agencies, who’s on them, what they do, and why do they do it.

Former House Speaker Tip O’Neill once said that all politics is local. It sure is. Once again, over 350 local government units in San Diego. Why?

If we could etch-a-sketch local government in San Diego, would we recreate it the same way we have it today? I say no.


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