Prop C: Saving Mission Bay, fiscal accountability
by Guest Commentary by City Councilman Kevin Faulconer
Published - 10/29/08 - 12:28 PM | 2596 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Proposition C — saving Mission Bay Park — is about the preservation of one of the most well-known and cherished landmarks in San Diego, and it’s about continuing needed reform in San Diego; it’s about truth in budgeting; it’s about ending the procrastination of fixing this park to maintain its safety and preserve its wildlife, and it’s about being open with the taxpayers.

Prop C is consistent with the intended use of the revenues from the commercial leases at Mission Bay Park. Since the creation of the park, there has been a call from reformers that Mission Bay be a self-sustaining park. Even in 1955, there were discussions over commercial leases in Mission Bay Park and the president of the San Diego Taxpayers Association argued that the park had to be self-sustaining and not become a burden to taxpayers.

The city has failed to use the revenues the park generates as a reliable funding source to protect the park and taxpayers.

I have heard about the imminent crisis in Mission Bay Park from advocates of the park and I know about the conditions firsthand. Before being elected to City Council, I was the chair of the Mission Bay Park Committee and was on the Park and Recreation Board. Every day I worked on finding ways to make these major repairs to improve the public safety at the park for San Diegans and visitors, and to help preserve the park’s wildlife and ecosystem.

I have worked alongside environmental advocates, businesses and community leaders for years against the decisions of past councils that continually took money from Mission Bay Park to pay for non-emergency projects. Prop C will ensure that the revenue that was originally intended to keep the park safe and make the park self-sufficient is used for the park. It will stop the temptation of future councils to use park revenue for pet projects or other non-emergency programs.

This is also why Prop C is supported by Mayor Jerry Sanders. Mayor Sanders has been singularly focused on reforming City Hall and creating a fiscally responsible and accountable government, and I have worked with him on these goals as chair of the city’s Audit Committee and as vice chair of its Budget Committee. Prop C will end the siphoning of dollars designated for serious and major park repairs and instill openness, accountability, and fiscal responsibility.

Some say the council already has the authority to keep the revenues at Mission Bay Park. They ask, why tie the hands of the City Council?

Well, let’s look at the history of the city. Nearly 15 years ago, the 1994 Mission Bay master plan update identified major improvement projects totaling $171 million. Did the city then resist temptation and fund these projects? It did not.

Then, six years later, a scathing 2000 Grand Jury report revealed that the city had allocated $3 million out of the $171 million recommended for improvements. The report indicated that to complete the projects, it would take 20 years but only if lease revenues generated stayed in the park. Did this scathing report spur the city into spending these funds on needed park improvements? No, this did not happen.

Then the City Council passed a 2002 ordinance that would have kept 25 percent of the lease revenues generated over $20 million in Mission Bay Park. Yet again, it waived off the law until Mayor Sanders was elected to office.

Just think, almost all of the repairs would have been done if the city had kept its commitment and made the $171 million of improvements. But instead, the cost has nearly doubled at a huge cost to taxpayers.

Prop C will end the mismanagement of Mission Bay and will help restore more fiscal responsibility and accountability.

— Kevin Faulconer represents District 2 of the San Diego City Council, which includes Ocean Beach and Point Loma.

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