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We don't need no stinking beaches

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
January 27, 2006


Short on the heels of the defeat of Prop A, property owners in Encinitas are now being asked to consider imposing a fixed, $5 per-month clean water fee on all property owners, for the next decade. Proposition C, the city's answer to rising costs and unfunded federal mandate, would offset $11 million of the money needed to fund their successful clean water program implemented in 1999. Being Encinitas, the fee increase is not as clear an issue, as it should be, resulting in a well-organized opposition campaign.

Personally, I believe no price is to high for clean water, as all life on this planet depends on clean water for survival. The municipalities of coastal San Diego are no exception. Encinitas, devoid of industry other than tourism, depends on healthy coastal environment to attract residents and visitors alike. No people, no business, no sales tax, no enmities, no quality of life.

Clean water is good for the economy.

On first look, I was in complete support of assessing property owners to help fund pollution mitigation mandates. Ecologically speaking it is the least they could do, other than doing nothing. Run off is a massive problem that will hardly corrected by a $40 million band aide when nothing is done to limit the industrial pollutants at their source. Still, any effort to reduce coastal pollution is money well spent.

On deeper reflection however, it occurred to me that clean water assessment was nothing more than an additional property tax, levied on property owners. Begging the question, why not use the property taxes, sales tax, and Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) already assessed, to fund the clean water program, something Encinitas is currently doing? Still, I favored the reasoning behind Prop C.

Sixty dollars a year for clean water and pollution mitigation, is not too much to ask from property owners, is it? Of course not.

Normally, Encinitas voters whole-heartedly endorse environmental regulation. The only reason not to vote yes on Prop C would be because it is unequally places the burden of clean water maintenance on property owners. When property owners are the only ones being asked to contribute, and pollution generating business owners and residential renters are exempt from paying their fair share, is it any wonder opposition is so strong.

Consider the Lumberyard Shopping Center in Encinitas. The owners of that commercial property have at least fifty tenants at any given time. As tenants Starbucks and Subway Sandwiches, two multinational corporations, are exempt from the proposed assessment, even though they generate considerable traffic and pollution. In fact, other than the sales tax required by state law, Starbucks, Home Depot, Home Expo, Target, McDonalds, Burger King, Jack in the Box, and other business renting commercial space will not be required to contribute.

Imagine all the industrial chemical cleaning solutions used daily by area restaurants, going down the drain. Bleach, soap, and sanitizers are just a few environmental hazards unleashed in our community, eventually making their way to the ocean through. Then there is the road run off produced by all the trucks supplying local businesses wit resources needed to do business.

Even in the face of unequal water quality assessments, I am still in favor of using whatever means possible to improve and maintain healthy ecological conditions along the coast. Currently, the city of Encinitas funds it's clean water program through general funds and will continue to do so if voters reject Proposition C.

Devoid of industry, and with little agriculture left, Encinitas depends on a healthy coastal environment to maintain its celebrated quality of life, and the only industry remaining, tourism. Without clean beaches, Encinitas has little to offer visitors other than strip malls; bumper to bumper traffic, and stories about how good things use to be.

As a tree-hugging environmentalist, I encourage all Encinitas property owners to vote yes on C. Clean oceans, pristine beaches, and a vibrant surf community are vital to the preservation of Encinitas property values. Yes, the funding scheme is suspect, appearing to be nothing more than a fiscal shell game and will do little about reducing pollution at its source. Regardless, clean water is still a responsibility coastal municipalities must bear.

Vote yes on environmental stewardship. Vote Yes on C.

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