It has been a good idea to look a gift horse in the mouth ever since the war between the Greeks and the independent city of Troy. The Greek’s gift of the Trojan horse for Troy is an early recorded instance when the gift was more about benefiting the giver than the receiver. This led to an old axiom, “It is better to give than to receive.”
Laguna has had similar issues with so-called gifts. Currently there is much suspicion about the precise nature of the gifts Mo’s Laguna Company aspires to give Laguna Beach. Also there is the proffered gift of half a million dollars to save Laguna’s long abandoned sewer digester, if only the city will give the “donors” $2.5 million in avoided demo costs, a 99-year lease and four parking spaces. It’s hard to tell what’s better, to be the donor or the donee?
Let’s get real here. A half million dollar donation in exchange for a vague 99-year lease on a commercial location in downtown Laguna sounds like chump change, particularly when the city is expected to stump up the millions of dollars in development costs to renovate the structure. This shouldn’t turn into a substantial gift of taxpayer money to fund a private enterprise.
City manager school has lots of classes about saying no and being skeptical concerning so-called gifts. It’s a good thing it does. Perhaps we would benefit from listening to our city manager. We do have a recent example where our emotions overruled economic sense.
Toni’s trash houses, that were rescued from demolition when the Suzi Q was built, contain a valuable lesson. Remember the pile of money the city spent dragging those hulks out to Big Bend to save them? They then moldered there for years while the city waited futilely for some dunce to come along and redevelop them.
It never happened. The city finally had to accept reality and spend even more money to haul those hulks to the dump. What an exercise in wasted time, money, and energy that was.
Laguna has seen a deluge of letters criticizing our city manager for wanting to define the details of this proposed sewer digester saving gift. He is right in doing his job and wanting to know exactly what is being offered.
The city has numerous vital needs to meet. Investing in new sewers might be more important than saving past sewer relics. Laguna is well advised to closely examine this proffered gift horse before we pull it inside the walls.