Reader Sal D’Anna raises the prospect of increasing revenue by charging fair market value for city property leases.

Since Aguirre is already disliked so much, I would tell him his only task for the day was to figure out a way (Legal or Otherwise) to revoke each and every lease of City Property and immediately put them up for bid at market rates. In the first month, the City would be able to pay off all their debt and add millions in surplus to the General Fund.

I agree that the city should seek to better maximize its revenue on leases. Any decision to renew a lease below fair market value cannot continue to occur behind closed doors. While there are many nonprofits that provide a valuable service to the community, the public should be given an opportunity to weigh in on the trade-offs of a lease subsidy versus additional general fund revenue that could help to address city service and infrastructure needs.

At this point, it is unclear exactly how much the city is losing out on. I’d like to see the mayor disclose the appraised fair market value for all leases expiring within the next five years, so that a transparent public policy discussion can occur on the merits of any subsidy.

I also think it’s time we took a serious look as the city’s grants for special promotional programs. voiceofsandiego.org has covered the county’s grants in a number of stories, but little light has been shed on the city’s process for doling out $20 million of taxpayer dollars for arts, culture and economic development programs.

Again, that’s not to say that some of the groups receiving these funds don’t provide invaluable services to the community. The city should support programs or services that augment core services and/or result in clearly defined measurable economic development or increased tax revenues. But I think there’s opportunity to increase transparency and accountability in the process.

Until then, the mayor and City Council should reassess whether the city can afford to give away taxpayer dollars that could otherwise be used to fix potholes and crumbling sidewalks.

— LANI LUTAR

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