The city staff and Council have made up their minds that we need utilities undergrounded. This is a classic case of government telling you what’s best for you. They won’t tell you the facts, or at least all the facts. Just the ones that they want you to know.
This is because they are trying to figure out how to get you to agree to pay for undergrounding without belt-tightening on other programs and employees. While they blithely ask to change out vehicles with only 28,000 miles on them, we are asked to once again tax ourselves to cover their profligate spending.
They are on a scare campaign to convince you that you need this. They are using public funds to produce mailed flyers, advertising in the Laguna Beach activities booklet, public meetings using employee time, and a very, very biased survey for which you paid.
They even hired an undergrounding manager a year ago in anticipation of getting you to pay for it all. They want two revenue streams – a 1-cent increase in the sales tax and a general obligation bond for $35 million paid for by an increase in property taxes.
Oh, the city budget? Only as needed because heaven forbid that they actually cut out fat from the bloated mess. Laguna spends almost $4,000 per resident annually, excluding school, county, state or federal contributions. Dana Point spends $1,300 per resident.
What is Laguna spending it on? Flyers to get you to raise taxes, surveys to figure out how to get you to say yes and advertising to scare the wits out of you about evacuation routes. This I find particularly galling as the 1993 fire was caused by an arsonist, not a utility pole; Laguna Canyon Road, the prime target of undergrounding now, was on fire and not an evacuation route.
Using public funds to convince the residents of the city’s point of view is probably illegal under California law and California Supreme Court decisions. Newport Beach just passed a resolution forbidding use of public funds to advance a point of view. Laguna is not educating, but scaring the public with slanted and biased “facts” with convenient omissions. If you want the real facts, please go to www.stoptaxingourproperty.com.
Don’t let the city get away with this blatant attempt at using our money to brainwash us. Let them figure out how to do it with the money they already receive if they think this is so vital.
Michele Monda, Laguna Beach