Projected budget surplus lets city again tend to its own hearth
by Mariko Lamb
Mar 21, 2012 | 7245 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
District 2 City Councilman Kevin Faulconer and District 1 Councilwoman Sherri Lightner take advantage of the reinstated city funding for fire pits with a sweet treat at Mission Bay on March 13.                               Photo by Mariko Lamb I The Beacon
District 2 City Councilman Kevin Faulconer and District 1 Councilwoman Sherri Lightner take advantage of the reinstated city funding for fire pits with a sweet treat at Mission Bay on March 13. Photo by Mariko Lamb I The Beacon
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Mayor Jerry Sanders announced last week that the city’s projected $16.5 million budget surplus will allow the city to fully fund the beloved waterfront fire-pit program for the first time since 2009. Over the years, community organizations and private donors have stepped forward to keep fire pits available to the public while the city struggled with budget challenges.

“I’m proud to say that this is yet another example of how this city is turning the corner,” said Sanders during a press conference at Mission Bay with city councilmembers Kevin Faulconer, representing District 2 and Sherri Lightner of District 1. “San Diego can keep the fires lit itself. San Diego’s 186 fire pits are an essential part of our beach culture. It’s hard to imagine San Diego without them. Now we won’t have to.”

For more than three years, community organizations and private donors have cobbled together the funding for the annual $120,500 upkeep of the concrete fire pits. The San Diego Foundation, working in concert with the La Jolla Community Foundation and Mission Bay Endowment Fund, helped secure anonymous donations that totaled more than $400,000 over the years.

The San Diego Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and offices of councilmembers Lightner and Faulconer also contributed to the cause.

“Gathering around a fire pit with friends and family is part of the San Diego tradition, no matter where you live in San Diego. From roasting marshmallows to relaxing in the sand under the night sky, fire pits are where millions of San Diegans can make memories every single year,” said Faulconer. “The lights will not be going out on San Diego beaches. As a proud representative of Mission Bay and many of San Diego’s beach communities, my priority has been protecting and celebrating San Diego’s bays and beaches for residents, tourists and for future generations.”

Faulconer praised the mayor’s leadership in bringing “efficiency and effectiveness to City Hall” and hailed the community’s success in helping keep the tradition of fire pits alight.

“Through this leadership, combined team effort, and this fiscal reform, we are delivering results for our beaches and our bays and prioritizing services to improve the quality of life for all San Diegans,” Faulconer said. “To the San Diegans who have donated to fire pits over the years, you stood up for the amenities you love and City Hall has listened. We’re going to have a great spring and a great summer, and the tradition of fire pits in San Diego will continue.”

Funds from the projected surplus have already been allotted to restore library and recreation center hours, add 15 police cadets to the next police academy and replace an outdated fire station alert system with one that officials said will shave one minute off response time.

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