Agency explores quality-of-life tax
I thought taxes were collected to help pay for stuff that insures our quality of life already, right?
So, if they are proposing a new tax dedicated for "quality of life" then I can only assume that all the development and traffic we have been getting is no longer sustainable and our quality of life has been compromised. But how can a new tax solve our problems?
Regional planners are polling San Diego County residents to see if they would support a special "quality of life" tax to fund beach-sand replenishment, open-space purchases, habitat restoration and water-quality programs, an agency official said Thursday.
The funding source could come in the form of a sales, property, hotel or rental-car tax, and could appear on the county ballot in 2008, said Rob Rundle, principal planner for the San Diego Association of Governments, the county's regional planning agency.
It's easy to justify dinging the tourist with more taxes, but really, it's a pretty uncool thing to do. A new sales tax sends shivers down my spine. We are already paying almost 8% in sales tax. It should be more like 4 or 5%. We are getting reamed.
Rundle talked about the poll at a meeting of the association's shoreline preservation committee Thursday, while panel members were reviewing a cost estimate for a proposed regional beach-sand replenishment project. It would be the second such project this decade.
This makes me totally insane. Nobody wants to hear this but there is still too much sand on our local beaches. All that sand they dumped on us a few years ago was too much. It screwed up the quality of the surf. It buried the reefs and the kelp beds, it screwed up the quality of the sandbars at the beachbreaks. Non-surfers may not care about this at first, but they should. Surfing is a big part of the local economy. Good wave quality means happy stoked surfers spending money at local restaurants after they surf.
The reefs and kelp beds are extremely important. The kelp beds are just now starting to make a comeback. The entire coastline of Leucadia used to have thick kelp beds. Now there are just small patches returning. The reefs and kelp beds are where lobsters and young fish live. The kelp also slows down the wind which keeps the base of the cliffs from getting scalloped out. If these the kelp beds get buried in sand (again) it will spell doom for our local fish stocks.
The quality of sand they dump on the beach concerns me too. Our natural sand is fine stuff, black and silver and sticky. We don't need coarse crappy sand that is more like dirt.
Mis-managed sand replenishment will add extra irony to the so called "quality of life" tax.
Officials say another sand-spreading campaign is needed because as much as half the sand on some beaches has already been washed away by winter swells.
Uh, no. Well, maybe half of the original sand from the first project has been moved and distributed by natural forces but this is a good thing. Like I mentioned before, there is still currently too much sand in Leucadia. We can't just let bureaucrat golfers dump and all over our beaches all willy nilly.
The association has come up with a $24.9 million estimate for the second go-round. The project would aim to beef up the scrawny shoreline at Oceanside Beach, north Carlsbad, south Carlsbad, Batiquitos, Leucadia Beach, Moonlight Beach, Cardiff Beach, Fletcher Cove, Del Mar, Torrey Pines, Mission Beach and Imperial Beach.
The project is patterned after an inaugural $17 million effort the association spearheaded in 2001, when 2.1 million cubic yards of sand was dredged up from the ocean bottom and spread on the beach.
"It's the exact same project from 2001," said Shelby Tucker, an associate regional planner with the agency.
Rundle estimated the restoration could be completed in about 2 1/2 years, after devoting time to design the project and study its environmental impact, and to obtain funding for it.
To get the ball rolling, the committee voted unanimously to start looking for funding immediately. Panel members said the agency needs to begin by lobbying for a chunk of cash from Proposition 84, the new $5.4 billion bond measure California voters passed last month that sets aside money for water and environmental programs.
If a regional quality-of-life tax were to be established, that, too, could be tapped for beach restoration.
So wait, there is already money for this? But they want a new tax? These people never sleep do they? This sounds like a larger version of Prop C to me. Read: Leucadia!: "a fee with a name that made us feel good"
Open-space purchases, habitat restoration and water-quality programs; these things sound good. But what would the reality be? Just another layer of government isn't going to help preserve open space.
I think the best thing for open space is to start a private foundation made up of donations to purchase land. If you get the government involved you could be looking at eminent domain.
The association has authority to seek voter approval for up to 1 percent in sales taxes. Given the half-percent TransNet tax, the agency could put another half-percent quality-of-life sales tax on the ballot.
I don't know a single person who would vote for this. Even my super liberal hippie friends are going to hate this one.