I met a friend in Oceanside last week. I had not been there in seven years. Oceanside, always a rough and tumble stepchild to other coastal communities, has come into its own.
The areas that I remember as being particularly seedy, now shine like a new copper penny. This epiphany was reminiscent of my recent visit to Coronado, where to my astonishment, I was unable to spot a single homeless person. There were very few potholes in the roads and I saw sidewalks in commercial areas that were power-washed almost to perfection. With less affluence than La Jolla, the City of Coronado — and now even the City of Oceanside — outperform La Jolla on every municipal service level and join the cities of Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach and Del Mar in that regard.
As a long, long-time resident of La Jolla, I suggest we look to these other cities with wonder and hope as to how our community could look if we, La Jolla residents, were ruled by different politicians who were competent managers and who possessed a true concern for the citizens — not just a focus on garnering votes for the next election.
But there are reasons this situation is endemic to large municipalities. The City of San Diego (and California as a state government) are built on the conceptual framework of “give us your votes and we will give you free stuff.” Unfortunately, that “free stuff” is provided in the form of excess salaries and pensions for government workers in a quid pro quo return for their votes. Such policies of vote-buying in San Diego waste substantial funds that should go to maintaining La Jolla’s infrastructure and providing off-street counseling and services for the substance-abusers and those homeless in our once-beautiful City.
As California Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) has documented in detail, the average government employee in California makes 50 percent more in income and benefits than a worker in the private sector does for doing the same job. So, guess how those legions of government employees are going to vote and who they’re going to vote for? Between excessive government salaries and community care, it’s not community care that will win! Our services, streets and infrastructure all suffer as a result.
Since power and re-election are the paramount factors for politicians, dispersion of control is concomitant with a policy of divide-and-conquer that works to the benefit of San Diego politicians. Because of the City’s size, even those representing La Jolla on the City Council get little say in the way our community is run and, therefore, a plurality of those on the Council siphon-off La Jolla’s funds to other districts that may provide a bigger bang for the buck of vote-buying.
The smaller, independent coastal cities do not have this problem because their council members are beholden only to them and their defined areas, thus encouraging better use of funds for infrastructure and services.
This is not to say incorporating La Jolla would be to our benefit, but it does mean we need to change our tactics because none of our problems are going to be solved by contacting the City officials who represent us. How do we know? We have a clear history where the City has ignored our essential needs on more occasions than we ever thought possible.
What is really needed is to hit the City where it hurts, and that is in the proverbial pocketbook. Residents with the means should repetitiously file a stream of lawsuits over a period of years, both in Superior Court and Small Claims Court, asking for redress for the failures of our City government. Though I’m not a fan of the legal system, surely doing what we have done in the past is an axiomatic example of the definition of insanity. Some of the lawsuits may fail, but many of them will succeed. Eventually, the City may tire of our noise and deign to provide us with the clean, safe streets and infrastructure we already pay for.