Entrance is City-Funded Welfare for Businesses

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I understand that the council will now be giving a period of public input on the village entrance project. Still, I believe that until this revenue-bond project is rejected by the City Council, people will continue to express their opposition.

From my investigation of a revenue bond I found this definition, “A revenue bond is a special type of municipal bond distinguished by its guarantee of repayment solely from revenues generated by a specified revenue-generating entity associated with the purpose of the bonds, rather than from a tax.”  To me that entity would be the parking structure itself, not the increased fees from parking everywhere in the city. I know that this definition could be finessed to include all parking fees, but I believe that this violates the intent of the revenue bond. Such bonds do not require a vote of the people because the repayment of the bond does not impact the citizens’ interests.

In the current proposal the parking structure is expected to generate $300,000 a year, minus maintenance expenses, while the annual payment for the bond is expected to be around $2 million. The remaining $1.7 million annual payment will come from the increased parking fees outside the structure.  The revenue from these increased parking fees would otherwise be directed to city needs, such as more police, undergrounding utilities on the city’s major arterials, and the development and implementation of a 21st– century mobility plan that would promote pedestrian and bicycle use and reduce traffic congestion in the downtown through peripheral parking and shuttle service.

Very relevant to the proposed city funding of a parking structure was Bill Moyers’ PBS program “Sports, Politics and Greed,” broadcast Sept. 15. The program described corporate welfare for sports teams in which cities build stadiums at taxpayer expense yet it is the owners of the teams who benefit. A taxpayer-funded stadium is currently being constructed in Detroit, despite the city being in bankruptcy!  While watching this program I thought of our city’s revenue bond plan for the parking structure. This bond, which uses the city general fund as collateral, represents city-funded welfare for nearby businesses. Not surprising, this project is supported primarily by nearby business interests. Other business owners worry that the proposed increased parking fees will negatively affect their businesses.

I urge the council to reject this revenue-bond project or allow a citizen vote on the bond. In Moyers’s program then-mayor of NYC Rudy Giuliani was reported as saying that if he had allowed a referendum on the new taxpayer-funded Yankee stadium, he would have lost. I can only hope that the Council will not take Giuliani’s stance and instead will either reject the current revenue-bond project or allow a citizen vote.

Ginger Osborne, Laguna Beach

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