COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | W. MARK LESLIE

What will 2015 bring local taxpayers?

The San Diego County Taxpayers Association was happy to see stability return to our region this year. San Diego elected a new mayor with a positive vision for the city and compromise reigned in several key policy decisions.

This year has been marked by daunting challenges and unexpected cooperation. Let’s look at the challenges we’re meeting as a region, and the issues that will define 2015.

Drought, debt, disease

In the midst of one of California’s most severe droughts, it has been rewarding to see the issue of water reliability unite political adversaries and strengthen regional partnerships.

The City of San Diego’s PureWater program has made genuine progress this year, in large part due to the San Diego County Taxpayers Association’s leadership with the environmental advocate group San Diego Coastkeeper. The impact of this program cannot be overstated. This cooperation will create a drought-proof water source for generations.

After some egregious decisions — for example, burdening future generations with billions in debt — transparency in school-district construction programs is on the upswing.

The Taxpayers Association is proud to help foster this culture by reporting on regional school bond transparency efforts and offering a school bond certification program for school board members and staff. With many of our educational facilities still in disrepair, we are working hard to help district officials plan responsible financing and earn the public’s trust.

Ebola drew national headlines due to spreading concerns at home and sympathy for the toll it has taken abroad. Attention surrounding this disease is helping to highlight infectious disease preparedness across the country.

Several leaders in health care and emergency preparedness call San Diego home, so the Taxpayers Association hosted a “Containing Infectious Diseases in San Diego” forum Wednesday.

Open government, infrastructure, housing

With the recent hiring of a chief data officer, we are excited to see what the city of San Diego will do to become more transparent and responsive. We’re also interested in how other government agencies will follow. Open data can help unleash government analysts and the public create new and innovative approaches to delivering government services.

The region is starting to uncover the extent of our massive infrastructure and housing needs. There is a lot of work that needs to be done and our region has reached a critical point. It’s time to plan for our future and maintain the roads, pipes and buildings we already have. From cracked sidewalks to bursting water mains, we can do better. We need to do better.

We all know it’s expensive to live in San Diego, but we can make America’s Finest City more affordable. There are several common-sense changes we can make to encourage the construction of more homes, lowering the cost of living. Parking ratios that require developers to build more parking than the market requires is a perfect example of overregulation harming San Diego families.

Balance

While politics will always be just that, in 2014 the Taxpayers Association was pleased to work with industry associations, environmental advocates and many community leaders to find fiscally sound compromise. Intensely debated issues, such as the linkage fee and increases to the minimum wage, provided opportunities for well-reasoned discussion beyond partisan bickering.

As our region approaches another year of big challenges and bigger opportunities for greatness, the Taxpayers Association is excited to work toward balanced reforms and a brighter future.


Leslie is president & CEO of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association.

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2 UserComments
Walt Brewer 12:31pm December 29, 2014

I and perhaps othere would like to see documentation to support the statement that developers are preparing more parking than needed.

David Danciu 11:57am December 29, 2014

Mr Leslie, I appreciate your comments regarding upcoming challenges to infrastructure needs, housing, etc. Here in Chula Vista, we are trying to get a handle on road repairs and such before they become a too big to handle problem. It is expensive to live in our region but I am puzzled by your statement that developers are building more parking than the market requires. That would only be true if there is a much more robust transit system. Todays families need at least two wage earners or more and reducing parking requirements which are already weak seems to be punitive to all the busy moms and dads.