The facts in Tyler Russell McCusker’s Opinion piece disappeared faster than JJ Gasparotti’s column. “Some people” want Laguna’s revenues to “take a nosedive?” Really? Which people?
Perhaps the “boarded up and struggling downtown” Russell McCusker refers to are the result of rising rents, neglectful landlords and shoppers buying online? Here are the facts: over the last 10 years, sales tax collected by the city more than doubled, according to John Thomas, former chair of the Audit Review and Measure LL Oversight Committee. Thomas goes on to point out that “all the sales tax received by the city from the downtown amounts to less than three percent of the city’s total revenue.” How’s that $14 million Downtown Action Plan looking now?
Since most of the city’s revenue is actually generated from taxes, perhaps taxpayers should have a say in how their downtown looks. Many of us would like to know how much the consulting firm has been paid to date since they started in 2018. Exactly how much money has gone towards a plan that includes such highlights as the loss of mature, healthy trees, sidewalks so wide that they will intrude into the public right of way by two feet, and expensive tree well and soil system?
It’s high time for residents to rein things in. If the proposed ballot initiative requiring voter approval for major commercial projects makes it into the ballot later this year, we will get the chance to do just that. In the meantime, residents will—as they always have—support their community in times of crisis. Our downtown may look different next year but it won’t be because of “local groups trying to stop development.”
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