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City’s problem: Not revenues, but waste

BY MIKE FORBES

I’m a resident of Bird Rock. Two months ago, I accepted chairmanship of the La Jolla Town Council Committee on Parks & Beaches, but I write as a private citizen.

Regarding the fire rings: I simply ask the City Council to find the money. Earlier this month, you collectively voted to spend $700,000 to learn the cost of a library we can’t afford and aren’t sure we really need. In March, you voted for $438,000 to be awarded to examine how to send treated sewage water to our faucets. Surely the money can be found to maintain 183 chunks of cement.

Fire rings are part of the rite of summer, and it would be a tragedy if they ceased to exist. The cost of fire ring maintenance is $173,000, or about 13 cents per San Diegan. I urge the City Council to fund the fire rings before they fund $689,000 to pay someone to play recordings of dogs barking for seals.

Regarding the seals: I ask the City Council to request the litigants seek mediation. The City Council can show leadership by asking the two sides to enter the same room, without the general public being in attendance, to hammer out a solution. With the aid of Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Southwest Fisheries, a possible solution exists that will please both sides and prevent further expense and acrimony.

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Granted, the City Council cannot compel either side to comply, but, if petitioned by the City Council to bargain in good faith, would the seal lovers or the lovers of the rule of law really refuse to enter confidential mediation and risk the public backlash? Dr. Joseph Klatt, a Harvard Law School master mediator and former city lifeguard, has offered to mediate this matter pro bono.

Regarding Scripps Park at the La Jolla Cove: One of the city’s showcase parks has fallen into disrepair. We need managed competition. San Diego doesn’t have a revenue problem. We have a waste problem. From park maintenance, to $1,887 per day to disperse seals, to $473 a day to shovel ash from fire rings, private contractors can supply better service for less money than city employees … if only we can find the political courage to be good to ourselves.

Mike Forbes is managing partner of Forbes Realty Union.