Three items to finish off the day:

1.) A core contention by firefighters is that we rapidly are outgrowing our firefighting capability. After all, as we all know only too well, the city of San Diego’s city population is growing by leaps and bounds.

Right?

Not exactly.

Here’s a link to the most recent U.S. Census figures on our estimated annual population since 1 July, 2000.

Actually the link gives the annual figures for the top 25 U.S. cities. The figures are interesting.

From July 2000 to July 2006, San Diego grew only 2.38 percent to 1,256,951 people. Note that this 2.38 percent is not the ANNUAL growth — it’s the TOTAL, cumulative growth for those six years.

Here’s a trend even more disturbing or encouraging n depending on one’s point of view: Since July 2003, the city’s population has DROPPED every year. Not much, but this is the opposite direction from what most people thought was the case. From 2003 through July 2006, San Diego’s population dropped 6,500 people, a 0.5 percent total drop.

Of the 25 biggest cities listed, 8 cities lost population since 2003. Included would be the usual suspects — Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit and Baltimore. Also declining is hyper-expensive San Francisco, plus Memphis, Milwaukee and, of course, San Diego.

San Diego’s loss of population is perhaps more of a problem than the raw numbers indicate. Anecdotal reports are that too many of the departees are the more productive folks, along with retirees taking their home profits and accumulated savings to where the grass is greener — and cheaper. And the taxes are lower. Included in this outmigration are a disproportionate number of retired public employees, taking their lucrative pensions elsewhere so that they get more bang for their buck.

And, given that the population figures are the NET figures, more productive and affluent folks perhaps are leaving than the tiny drop in population would indicate. But I have no hard evidence that this hypothesis is true. My personal anecdotal experience with acquaintances validates it, but that’s hardly a definitive benchmark.

Regardless, our stagnating population has serious implications for public education, roads, mass transit, water, libraries and many other government services. For government planners, the only viable choice is clear — they have to continue to lie to us about the predicted massive increase in city population to justify more spending on bigger budgets for everything. The difference is that the lies have to get bigger and bigger as the disparity from their forecasts and reality diverge further and further apart. It’s a tough job, but our planners and politicians are up to it!

2.) Here was an insightful comment someone made online from Australia to my LA TIMES online debate last month concerning the San Diego fires:

In Australia we have rural bushfire brigades which are manned by thousands of volunteers in all states. These firefighters are ordinary men and women from their local communities who help defend lives and property. Yes statistics do show that there is less property damage when people stay behind and fight the fires, but they need to be educated how to do this properly. Our bushfire brigades have websites such as the Queensland Rural Fire Service http://www.ruralfire.qld.gov.au/ and the South Australian Country Fire Service provides some very practical advice on what to do as well. http://www.cfs.org.au/

Submitted by: Coralie Davies

3.) Here’s an interesting factoid further demonstrating that Prop 13 is not gutting local government revenue streams.

In the City of San Diego, property tax revenues increased from 290 million in FY 2006 to 385.7 million in FY 2008 (budgeted – see pg. 67 of the budget)- a healthy 32.8% increase in 3 years.” — Eric Bruvold, President of the San Diego Institute for Policy Research

— RICHARD RIDER

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