On Monday, San Diego City Councilman David Alvarez expressed his idea for how to get the city more money for fixing our roads, sidewalks and infrastructure: get the money from property taxes people are already paying. Alvarez’s idea is meant to compete with Councilman Mark Kersey’s proposal, which would take money from other sources such as sales tax revenues. But regardless of where the money comes from, Liam Dillon reports how one fact remains: we don’t know how to spend the money we already have.
“City leaders have known that their process for fixing roads and other infrastructure has itself been broken for more than five years,” Dillon reports. Call it red tape, or leadership inertia, or any number of excuses for not turning money into work; the fact is we have $560 million of projects already funded, Dillon reports, but “public works staffers now can handle up to $350 million in projects.”
Tuesday afternoon, Council members failed to reach any consensus about Kersey’s proposal, batting back and forth every detail, including what financial formulas should be used, how long revenue should be sequestered and even the definition of infrastructure. (For instance, should money generated by the program go only toward fixing infrastructure the city already has or also to build new things?) “Almost every one of these decisions could mean the difference of billions of dollars,” Dillon wrote.
Ultimately, the Council kicked a decision on the measure to Feb, 9 with a pledge to try and figure out how to define infrastructure among other matters before then. (Times of San Diego)
Colorful Lights and Packing Tape: Culture Report
In this week’s Culture Report, Kinsee Morlan checks out a new interactive installation at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center that crosses art and engineering with a whole lot of packing tape. Morlan also breaks down what happened at a recent meeting of people in the arts journalism world, where she realized most of her art-reporting kin have moved on to other roles. “The number of Union-Tribune staffers covering arts, culture and entertainment has gone from about 80 to just four,” Morlan writes.
Old Fines? Bad Times
Martha Sullivan writes in to give readers a taste of the “unintuitive maze” she was required to navigate in order to help a friend resolve some old fines issued by the state Franchise Tax Board. She recalls chasing information in circles, driving from place to place, and being flatly denied assistance from the private company hired to collect fines in San Diego. Gov. Jerry Brown last year referred to the state’s infraction system as a “hell-hole of desperation.”
“I had the time, a car and a lifetime of dealing with bureaucracy to navigate this labyrinth,” Sullivan writes. “Even when I was trying to do the right thing and resolve the issue, the system makes it nearly impossible.”
Compromise On Cash Windfall
City Republican leaders wanted to set up a beefy “pension stabilization fund,” stuffed with extra sales tax money the city has received. Democrats argued such a fund was a waste and the money belongs in the city’s reserve fund. The sharp clash of ideals came to a head on Tuesday with unexpected language like “compromise,” “hybrid,” and “cooperation” flying around council chambers as they agreed to split the difference, putting some money in both places, the Union-Tribune reports.
• NPR looks into whether San Diego’s city government may take over calling the shots on where San Diego Gas and Electric buys its power from.
• UCSD research suggests the vapors you inhale when smoking an e-cigarette can make bacterial infections in your body unkillable (they call it “virulent”). (MedicalXpress)
• People want to know if Governor Brown played in any role in the San Onofre power plant shutdown that left taxpayers on the hook for billions. (SacBee)
• There was an active shooter alert sounded yesterday in San Diego that turned out to be nothing. (LA Times)
• El Nino storms are eroding cliffs up and down the California coast. Residents of these cliff-top houses in Pacifica are probably out of luck.
• The San Diego Comic-Con (notice that dash) and the Salt Lake Comic Con are meeting to work out their trademark dispute on Wednesday. (Insurance Journal)
How To Shrug It Off On The Internet
Fans of the San Diego Chargers are so rabid for fresh news in the relocation drama that when the Chargers removed the words “San Diego” from their logo on the social media app Snapchat, fans, well, snapped! The fan website Bolts from the Blue decried “The Chargers keep taking ‘San Diego’ off of things,” and drew some comments from angry fans.
The Chargers played it coy. “I thought it looked cleaner ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ” the Chargers’ social media guru said on Twitter.
Correction: An earlier version of this post said that the San Diego City Council doesn’t offer members of the public the ability to submit comments online on Council agenda items. It does.
Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.