Elo-Rivera promises stormwater tax measure
A ballot measure to fund stormwater repairs and flood recovery will be put before voters in November if City Council president Sean Elo-Rivera gets his way.
Why it matters: Hundreds of southeastern San Diego residents have been displaced or suffered significant property damage from last week's historic flooding due to the failure of a stormwater system that local officials have long known was inadequate and underfunded.
- A second storm hit residents Thursday, thankfully without a repeat of the historic flooding, and another is expected to hit the region early next week.
What he's saying: "Those storms will keep coming, and the climate won't stop changing, while we get bogged down by politics and bureaucracy," Elo-Rivera said Wednesday at a meeting of the Council's rules committee. "The time for action is now."
- He provided few details, promising to introduce a measure to the committee in the coming months, and that its specific tax or fee structure was undetermined.
- "I'm proposing this measure because as a Council member this is the tool available to address major issues, and I refuse to let another election go by without trying to solve a problem that's plagued our city for generations."
- That audit required the city's stormwater department to build a long-term financing strategy and explore a possible ballot measure to close the gap, but pursuit of a measure died in February 2022 following unfavorable polling.
Between the lines: Residents of single-family homes pay 95 cents per month in San Diego for stormwater management.
- Chula Vista was the only California city surveyed by auditors that paid less, while San Jose and Sacramento each charged more than 10 times that.
Details: Previous efforts examined two ways to charge fees — one charging a flat rate for every property, and another would charge a rate per square foot of impermeable area.
- The property-based structure would have charged $5.67 to $7.42 a month, while an impermeable area method would range from $10.67 to $13.33 monthly.
State of play: Old San Diego political wisdom holds that multiple tax measures on a ballot cannibalize support from one another, leaving proposals in the run-up to an election competing among officials to be selected to go before voters.
- That could leave three other revenue measures eyeing Elo-Rivera's commitment — a countywide sales tax for transportation, a property-transfer tax on mansions for low-income housing, and a citywide sales tax for general services.
Yes, but: Mayor Todd Gloria and Councilman Raul Campillo have been backing the sales tax, but at a Wednesday press conference before Elo-Rivera's announcement, Gloria acknowledged the basic dynamic animating the measure.
- "We have to have more revenue," he said. "There's no two ways about it. The size of the challenge is measured in the billions."
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