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The San Diego County Grand Jury just released a comprehensive report on the county’s fire preparedness, entitled “The Fire Next Time, Will We be Ready?”
The answer to that question appears to be a resounding “no” as far as the Grand Jury is concerned. Here’s a snippet from the introduction to the report.
Given the existing high-risk conditions that are projected to continue into the future, destructive firestorms will certainly occur again. Yet, even armed with this knowledge and after the Cedar Fire wake-up call, the San Diego region is woefully unprepared, prompting a local academic to refer to San Diego as “… serial non-learners when it comes to fire preparation.”
A couple of things in the report caught my eye.
First, the Grand Jury recommends preparing a ballot measure to propose a 2.5 percent increase in the local transient occupancy tax, a tax levied on tourists using local hotel rooms, to specifically fund wildfire preparedness measures. Two previous attempts at raising the TOT have failed in recent years.
Second, the Grand Jury recommends that the county continues its consolidation of fire services in San Diego County, something the county has been glacially working towards, but which has been a controversial issue which has been opposed by at least one county supervisor.
That’s a couple of pretty big recommendations.
By law, various municipal governments and agencies in San Diego have to respond to all the Grand Jury’s findings and recommendations by a certain date. The San Diego City Council and mayor of San Diego have to respond by Aug. 31 for this report, as does the county Board of Supervisors.
It’s going to be especially interesting to see how local governments respond to that call for a ballot measure to propose a new TOT tax.