Welcome to Viva-city and Downtown San Diego
Sandra Simmons

Life in the City

-by Sandra Simmons

The beat goes on. Drums keep pounding a rhythm to the brain. – Sonny and Cher, circa 1967.

As the city’s fiscal year draws to a close, focus turns to the Mayor’s proposed budget for the upcoming year. Yet again, the drums begin to pound: “Downtown doesn’t pay its share of property taxes that fund services, still Downtown receives a higher level of attention than any other community.” We hear these repercussions throughout our city, voices calling out that we don’t pull our fair share.

I want to yell back at the incessant percussion that this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Granted, the tax increment dollars (the increase in tax dollars collected based on the increased value of properties in Downtown) is paid to the City’s Redevelopment Agency’s entity, Centre City Development Corporation; however, Downtown property taxpayers STILL pay into the general fund.

Many don’t know, or just fail to acknowledge, that Downtown is not your typical neighborhood. We’re heavily impacted by workers, visitors, tourists, conventioneers, and ballpark attendees, and with this impact comes an extra burden on the infrastructure paid by Downtown property owners.

Basic services are supposed to be provided by the city. However, Downtown property owners pay an additional assessment through their yearly property taxes for sweeping, cleaning, repairing the sidewalks, removing stickers, graffiti, and other unpleasant droppings from the public right-of-ways, rousing individuals who are illegally lodging on public property, assisting the local enforcement officers, and so much more.

And then there is the trash collection issue. People’s Ordinance of 1919 prohibits the city from charging trash pickup fees to those living in single-family homes, at the tune of $54 million a year. Yet, Downtowners still pay for trash and recycling pickups.

There’s talk about raiding $100 million from redevelopment tax increment dollars to help pay for the shortfall in the city’s overall budget. This payment would divert monies away from redevelopment and our community.

Would this mean Downtowners won’t receive neighborhood parks? Traffic signals at dangerous intersections? Improvements to our crumbling sidewalks? Three new fire stations? The reopening of 8th Street (now Park Boulevard) at Harbor Drive? The upgrades necessary for a quiet zone?

I question…Is it time to pay the dime?

For decades, Downtown was thrown by the wayside. Claudine Scott (Rowhomes on F) believes that tax increment dollars allocated for redevelopment should be used for what they were intended: revitalizing Downtown.

Norma Vega revealed that her HOA pays for a private security company to patrol her building, Park Blvd West, to ensure the surroundings aren’t being vandalized.

Many property owners living in high-rise condominiums pay for maintaining the public right-of-way. Mary Schlesing reported that a portion her Park Place HOA fees is used to maintain the surrounding parameters of her building.

In the past years, over $90 million tax increment dollars have been paid into the general fund. Downtowners pay more than their fair share. Yet: “Some (sic) still cry, hey buddy, have you got a dime?” - May 2007

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