Many of us take it for granted that our branches of government have a supply of revenue that resembles a gigantic faucet. We can regulate the flow with the ease of turning a handle. The reservoirs that feed our fiscal needs are easily replenished. And many of us believe that the primary challenge for government isn’t replenishment of resources, but management of waste.
But the reservoirs are running dry. Everywhere we turn in today’s La Jolla, we are noticing evidence of neglect and poor policy, caused by the very real lack of revenue in our government’s coffers.
When we walk about La Jolla, our cherished sense of “village” is diminished, if not altogether lost, a victim of draconian government austerity. We see an alarming number of homeless people about our streets, unable to find shelter. We see and smell our polluted beaches. We do not see as many police patrols as we sometimes feel necessary. We notice that La Jolla is getting frayed about the edges: Dirt is everywhere. We are alarmed at the explosive increase in human density, as our small enclave sags under the weight of too many people. Our real water supply is threatened by drying reservoirs and rotten infrastructure. We are frustrated and angry when a Friday afternoon drive from Bird Rock to UCSD takes us an hour.
The so-called “quality of life” that brought people to La Jolla is not about real estate values. The “quality of life” that so many of us hold dear is about a safe, clean, welcoming community that works.
Right now, in San Diego, very little works. Our city is broke and broken. All of the austerity programs, all of the belt tightening, all of the quixotic scheming by Mayor Sanders and his administration will not bring back the flow of a working community. The mayor insists his policies can and will work. But in the interim, La Jolla, and all of San Diego, will have to continue to live with either reduced or eliminated essential services, services that taxpayers and residents demand. And the mayor will continue to sell the need for the ultimate act of privatization, local citizens footing the bill for swimming pools, fire stations and who knows what else, because the mayor will not look at our fiscal shortfalls for what they are: a dramatic lack of revenue that can only be corrected by bold, proactive action to increase the available revenue for our city. Indeed, this very conservative mayor believes that the best way for San Diego to face up to its lack of money is to jump feet first into the swift waters of borrowing. The mayor is demanding that we go without essential services for a number of years so that we can eventually go deeper into the uncertainty of debt service and unending debt. This does not make sense to us.
Traditionally, the La Jolla Light has not been a proponent for La Jolla cityhood. But in walking about our community and witnessing city hall’s inability or unwillingness to provide services, the attraction of striking an independent course has a very appealing promise. If San Diego cannot service La Jolla, perhaps La Jolla should provide for itself. The arguments about La Jolla cityhood are discussions worth having immediately.