The independent oversight committee created to monitor the San Diego Regional Association of Government’s last tax hike, TransNet is unconcerned with the agency’s revenue shortfall.
The chair of the watchdog committee told Keatts that he was not aware of the revenue shortfall, but that once he learned of it, he was not concerned by it because it’s not the oversight group’s responsibility to monitor the growing disparity between the revenue SANDAG said it would bring in from the tax and the actual revenue it is bringing in.
“The concept of comparing current revenues to the revenues that were forecast in 2004, that actually isn’t really our mandate,” said Stewart Halpern, the chair of the committee and whose expertise is in municipal finance.
Outside experts Keatts talked with, however, said there’s nothing stopping the watchdog group from concerning itself with revenue. And if the group doesn’t tackle such topics, then San Diegans are left without any meaningful oversight of the tax — which is the whole purpose of having an independent committee.
“There is no reason why a monitoring group, a taxpayer group that’s supposed to be responsible for oversight, shouldn’t be monitoring and reporting the shortfall,” Martin Wachs, a professor of urban planning at UCLA, told Keatts.
Election Day, Only a Week Away
In his elections column, San Diego Decides, Keatts gives a rundown of some misleading – and outright wrong – information in campaign mailers that have been circulating around the county.
Keatts digs into the Independent Voter Project and its mailer that on five citywide measures in San Diego, but includes some bad information.
He also writes about how both city attorney candidates have pledged to defend pension reform and rounds up the latest campaign shenanigans.
In the final episode of San Diego Decides, the companion podcast that you shouldn’t miss, Sara Libby and Ry Rivard talk to a couple grappling over the states’ dueling death penalty measures.
Mike and Penny Moreau’s son was murdered in Oregon in 1990 and they discuss the moral dilemma they face with the measures on this year’s ballot. On one hand, they believe it’s wrong to kill someone. But on the other hand, they’ve seen value in the death penalty during their encounters with the criminal justice system – their son’s killers took plea deals to avoid a death penalty trial.
Coastal Agency May Have Say in AirBnB Ban
Here it is a week from the election and, unexpectedly, the hottest issue at City Hall is … not on the ballot. Yesterday, Lisa Halverstadt broke down the discussion about a proposal that could curtail short-term vacation rentals in vast swaths of the city.
Today, Halverstadt has an update: San Diego’s top Coastal Commission official believes the agency will need to sign off on the proposal. City Council President Sherri Lightner, along with her colleague, Lorie Zapf, is pushing the proposal to clarify city law and ostensibly allow city staff to enforce a ban on vacation rentals in residential zones.
Lightner doesn’t believe the Coastal Commission has a say in the matter but that agency apparently disagrees.
“The agency’s been critical of vacation rental bans and regulations because it believes those rentals offer lower-income visitors affordable options to visit the coast,” writes Halverstadt.
In other vacation rental news, Councilmember Chris Cate is now floating his own short-term rental and home-sharing measure.
Everybody’s Got an Opinion
With Election Day fast approaching and mail-in ballots sitting on everyone’s kitchen tables (or mine, at least), lots of people are making a last-ditch effort to share their thoughts on ballot measures through VOSD commentaries.
• Dallas McLaughlin, co-host of The Kept Faith sports podcast, weighs in on Measure C, the Chargers’ initiative. McLaughlin pleads with his fellow San Diegans to not think like sports fans to make this decision, but to analyze the measure as you would any other measure as a taxpaying citizen – by looking at the numbers.
“When you look at Measure C, you’ll find a lot of projections and ‘what ifs,’ but you can’t and won’t find any hard economic data that proves it’s a real win for the city,” writes McLaughlin.
• Tomás Herrera-Mishler, CEO and president of the Balboa Park Conservancy, implores voters to support Measure J to help support San Diego’s parks.
The measure would amend the city charter to increase the amount of revenue that Mission Bay Park earns from its leases to other regional parks. Other parks currently benefit from 25 percent of the roughly $25 to $30 million Mission Bay Park brings in each year and Measure J would increase that amount to 35 percent.
“While approving Measure J certainly will not solve all of the Balboa Park’s infrastructure needs, it will have a significant impact on assuring that this regional treasure continues to be seen as the ‘crown jewel’ of the city and our San Diego region,” Herrera-Mishler concludes.
• Cara Lacey, the project director for the Connected Lands Program, argues in favor of Measure A, the half-cent sales tax proposed by the San Diego Regional Association of Governments for infrastructure, transportation and open space. Lacey argues that the measure will provide essential funding to purchase and maintain open space.
“Measure A will help make San Diego County a place where people and wildlife thrive,” Lacey writes. “When open space is protected, then urban growth happens in places that maintain the quality of life San Diego residents value.”
Quick News Hits
• This profile of San Diego’s “Free Hugs Guy” will take you from his teen years as homeless Chula Vista track star to a Donald Trump rally in Wisconsin to police-shooting protests in North Carolina. (Union-Tribune)
• State officials have offered to test the air in and around homes in El Cajon that have been sitting above a toxic plume for half a century. inewsource also has a new map of the groundwater plume.
• An undersea oil pipeline that fueled Carlsbad’s Encinas power plant for more than 50 years will soon be removed. (Union-Tribune)
• Roughly a dozen citations for environmental violations in the past year and expensive water at the Carlsbad desalination plant show why California has been slow to take up turning ocean water into drinking water. (KQED)
If you were worried about the walking dead on Halloween last night, fret no more. San Diego ranks the fifth most likely to survive a zombie apocalypse in a survey of the 53 largest U.S. cities.