Let’s say I offered you a deal. In exchange for $5 million per year for 25 years, I’ll agree to reduce a possible risk to you which occurs less than 2 percent of the time. You would probably say, that’s no deal, that’s a rip off! And you’d be right.
Well that is what the city and this City Council are offering residents, an agreement to raise our sales taxes, now formally called Measure P, that give us a poor return on our investment. How so you ask? In its fear campaign, the city states that over the past 10 years, there have been six fires caused by utilities. Under a Public Records Act request, our new Fire Chief Mike Garcia replied that over the past 10 years, there have been 394 fires from all causes, with the average number of fires per year at just under 40. Doing the math, this results in just 1.52 percent of all fires over a 10-year period being “caused” by utilities in Laguna. Yup, just 1.52 percent.
So at $5 million estimated revenue per year if Measure P is approved by voters, over the 25-year duration, that’s $125 million to reduce a less than 2 percent historical risk of utility fires by randomly undergrounding some, but not all, utility poles. And the possible risk is only being reduced, not eliminated, because only some of the utilities will be undergrounded. That’s a horrible return on investment. Remember, there has never been a major fire in Laguna caused by utilities. Spending hundreds of millions of dollars and putting our city in debt to underground utilities will not keep us safe from a single careless match or cigarette.
Vote no on Measure P. It’s a pickpocket. There certainly is no guarantee any of us will be any safer. It’s a poor return on our tax dollars. And vote out incumbent council members Rob Zur Schmiede and Toni Iseman, who voted to place this sales tax increase on the November ballot. Sometimes the sharks live on land, not the sea.
Stop the sales tax increase. For more facts, go to www.stoptaxingourproperty.com.
Jennifer Welsh Zeiter, Laguna Beach