Here we go again. Will we ever get some relief? Will our city keep asking for tax increases every two years? Will they keep using public safety as the carrot?
The utility undergrounding and fire safety measure is disingenuous. It’s got nothing to do with fire danger. It’s about aesthetics. Burying utilities randomly around town isn’t going to guarantee our safety. It’s been over 25 years since the major arson fire occurred and created the fear in us that our city is now perpetuating.
Since 1993, our city has ramped up its fire prevention methods such as open space fuel modification, weed abatement, tree trimming, goats, drone technology, state-of-the-art equipment and increased firefighter staff.These and other vital measures have been effective and even the smallest outbreaks are handled quickly and effectively and with the support of multi-agency back-up as needed. I have faith in Laguna firefighters, the Orange County Fire Authority, CalFire, and in their training and performance. We do not have to raise our sales tax to spend any more on fire safety.
The city has funds to underground our portion of LCR if we allocate all Measure LL safety funds and all budget surpluses toward it. This would require dropping the special interest wish-list projects, reigning in our expenses and living within our $97 million annual budget. No utility safety urgency has been substantiated. We should be logical, prudent and pay as we go.
Our Council members are asking us to commit our hard-earned dollars for vague and unsubstantiated projects and to funnel millions through their hands with:
No proof that utility poles are the cause of fires, only that transformers have been known to be a cause.
Nocost/benefit analysis for the undergrounding projects proposed.
No fire safety need verified for many of the evacuation routes selected.
No guarantees that this effort and money will improve fire safety.
No regard for putting generations of Laguna property owners into long-term debt.
No details—they can reprioritize the tax revenue any way they want.
No say by the public regarding how the tax revenue will be spent.
No outside audit firm. They plan to designate an audit/oversight committee, which could consist of people who supported their campaigns or have little or no auditing expertise.
No relief from this debt for 25 years, and even then, we will be on the hook for the projects approved for funding.
Are you comfortable with a poorly crafted tax measure that’s clearly not in your best interest? It deserves a no vote.
MJ Abraham, Laguna Beach