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I know a lot of attention is elsewhere today — the peaceful transfer of so much power is something we shouldn’t ever take for granted — but here are some random thoughts.

  • Here is another example of the solar program San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders talked about the other day in his State of the City speech. Like the source in the article, I think this is a game changer.

    Over the years, we have seen various government programs and incentives for all kinds of things. Many of them are so complicated it’s hard to draw the line between the program and what it’s trying to achieve.

    But allowing residents to finance the installation of solar panels through their property bills is just a very clear incentive with a very clear goal and easy-to-understand terms.

    The basics: California passed Assembly Bill 811 last summer. It allows residents to borrow money to install solar panels or otherwise retrofit their homes for energy efficiency. What’s so special about that? Well, the kicker in this is that it allows homeowners to pay off the loan through their property tax bills. It becomes a debt owed, in a way, by the property. If the property is purchased by someone else, they’ll have to pay it off.

    I don’t know why you wouldn’t take the opportunity to improve the value of your home. The savings on your energy bill may not quite balance out the cost of the annual payments but I haven’t seen a breakdown of the typical home’s costs yet.

    If anyone can do a breakdown like that for me, please send it in. I’m looking for how much the property tax bill of a typical home would go up, how much the homeowner could expect to save on energy, and anything else that should be factored in.

    That is important to understand, but color me impressed so far.

  • I see that Chula Vista City Councilman John McCann has put out an alternative plan to his colleagues’ apparent march toward a sales tax that will supposedly save it from financial disaster.

    Good for him. It’s nice to see them taking this situation seriously. And some of his points deserve consideration: Cutting 401K payments for managers — I think that one pension is enough for them so, OK.

    But McCann, true to San Diego form, has no long-term vision of any worth. He proposes selling one of Chula Vista’s most valuable city-owned plots of land for up to $20 million (during the most dramatic decline in real estate prices we’ve seen in recent history). Yes, that would indeed help close the financial gap and keep the city alive for another year.

    And then what?

    The fact is, the city of Chula Vista has one of the most dramatic examples of a structural deficit available. This means, again, that it is simply not set up to take in as much money as its set up to pay out. Right now, the deficit is set around $20 million. Next year, it will undoubtedly be worse. Chula Vista could sell $20 million in land to make this year’s payments, but what will it do next year?

    He’s selling the family car just to make this month’s rent with no vision for what happens next month. He doesn’t want to raise taxes, I understand. But if you don’t want to raise taxes you have to fundamentally reshape Chula Vista’s city government and make dramatic cutbacks. If you are not willing to do that, and you’re not willing to raise taxes, you are simply not willing to govern.

  • I’ve been meaning to redirect back to this story since it came out. I thought Kelly Bennett, Rob Davis and photographer Sam Hodgson did a fantastic job on this story about San Diego’s collective response to the call for public works projects to help stimulate the economy and shore up our infrastructure.

    Key passage:

    In the wake of the president-elect’s massive proposal, the region stands to see an unprecedented, dramatic investment of federal dollars. But because of the plan’s emergency nature, cities and other agencies scrambled to include projects with only one criterion: construction must begin pronto.

    As a result, San Diego’s list is a hodgepodge of projects, assembled without an overarching vision. No one vetted the projects on behalf of the region, or ranked what projects are in most need of funding. Some projects have only rough cost estimates.

    And here was Sam’s multimedia presentation:


    $7.4 Billion in Under 60 Seconds from Sam Hodgson on Vimeo.

    Anyway, if you missed the story during a busy week, check it out.

Again, enjoy the day. Our country doesn’t have many officially choreographed government rituals. But the inauguration is one of the few it does have and it’s a doozy.

SCOTT LEWIS

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