One of the things that struck me during the USD debate was when Eric Bidwell said, yes, we may have to raise taxes to cover our financial shortfall, but more importantly we have to look at our whole system of revenue and expenses.

This seems to me like a really good point—rather than temporarily balance the budget, shouldn’t we see if we can change our model so that it sustains itself?

Here’s how I think that could happen…if development fees and assessments reflected the true cost of services including utilities, roads, safety and other infrastructure necessitated by the choice to build. If this were the case, economic incentives would lead to neighborhoods where thriving businesses and residences coexisted and people could walk to work, and living near transit lines would be cheaper than living on newly razed land. For folks who want a big house in the ‘burbs, it would still be possible, but its cost would reflect the true cost of servicing that parcel.

OK, this is an old idea and not particularly Eric Bidwell’s. But it’s the kind of solution that could happen if we throw open the doors to new ways of managing San Diego.

—JAY PORTER

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