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Let Voters Have a Say on Paying for Improvements

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Editor,

 

Let’s face it; Laguna Beach is a filthy rich community. Maybe you and I are not filthy rich, but the city’s $12.7 billion assessed valuation puts it in a class of its own.  The 2015/16 assessor’s office $12.7 billion property valuation gives the city tremendous buying power to improve and pay for much needed infrastructure if used wisely.

A cursory cost summation of potential projects levitating Laguna Beach into the 21st century might be $150 million. For example: under in-grounding Laguna Canyon’s utilities with peripheral pedestrian and bike lane improvements; reconfiguring the Forest/Laguna Canyon parking lots; implementing city-wide sidewalk improvements to both meet ADA requirements making this into a walkable city; and finally, consideration of Section 8 housing to replace the temporary alternative sleeping shelter in the Canyon.

A time proven and intelligent way to implement large-scale improvements are voter approved general obligation bond (GO) issues. High quality GO bond issues are (and have been) very attractive to investors.

A Laguna Beach GO bond issue undoubtedly be snapped up with around a 4% interest rate.  And, with a 200 year payback, annual debt repayment would be $11 million.  For Laguna Beach’s current $12.7 billion assessed valuation, a $.0009 property rate ($900 per $1 million of assessed valuation) would repay the debt.

The Council is pondering a staggering number of projects without disclosing funding and repayment mechanisms.  Isn’t it time to bundle the city’s projects and let Laguna voters decide if they want to invest in the city’s future by voting on a GO bond issue? The benefits are tremendous: significant public safety aspects from fires, long-term beautification, and improved traffic and pedestrian circulation to name a few.

In the past, the city has funded major infrastructure with cash, internal fund reallocations, or in a recent case attempting to bypass voters with revenue bonds (the so-called parking garage).  Laguna voters are very savvy and educated group, so let voters have a say in bringing Laguna Beach into the 21st century.

As many have said before:  Let Laguna Vote!

 

Victor Opincar, Laguna Beach

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