Comments by goldenhillhomeowner

City to Implement "Pay First, Litigate Later" on Disputed Tax Assessments?

Clearly, with this proposal Mr. Goldsmith has staked out a position that is hostile to the very people who pay for city government - taxpayers. Mr. Goldsmith is able to make this proposal because no one is running against him in his bid for re-election as City Attorney. In fact, most people are unaware he is even up for re-election.

The saving grace is that the proposal can't get approved without a vote of city council, some of whom are up for re-election, and some of whom actually do have opponents. Moreover, the proposal, even if adopted by the city council, would be subject to a mayoral veto.

It is essential that those of us who oppose this horrible idea (probably the majority of San Diegoans) start writing letters and emails, and making phone calls. This proposal can be stopped with effective political opposition.

City Council Expected to Dissolve Golden Hill Maintenance Assessment District

City Councilman Todd Gloria has gone to great efforts to erase the advantage he has of being able to say he wasn't in office when the Greater Golden Hill maintenance assessment district was created in 2007 and therefore he isn't to blame for it. In fact, Councilman Gloria has been appearing at public meetings in Golden Hill urging residents to re-establish another maintenance assessment district, even as residents are starting to recover from the maintenance assessment district they just got rid of. Is Councilman Gloria not listening? Is he just not getting it?

Will Golden Hill Residents Have to Pay for Their Now-Defunct Maintenance Assessment District?

In any discussion of the soon-to-be-defunct Golden Hill maintenance assessment district, it's important to include a reference to the Greater Golden Hill CDC (Community Development Corporation)("GGHCDC") and the process by which the maintenance assessment district was approved by homeowners.

The "GGHCDC" is the entity that came up with the idea of a Golden Hill maintenance assessment district. To further its agenda, the "GGHCDC" received a $40,000 "grant" from City Councilman Ben Hueso to pay for one-sided mailers which were sent to Golden Hill homeowners to persuade homeowners to vote in favor of creating the maintenance assesment district. Homeowners received numerous one-sided mailers for a period of approximately six months. Homeowners were told over and over again why they should in favor of creating a maintenance assessment district.

A key feature of the ballot measure was the option it gave homeowners to designate the "GGHCDC" (rather than the city) as the agency to manage to day to day operations of the maintenance assessment district. The mailers sent to homeowners presented this option as advantageous because it assured homeowners "local neighborhood control" over the maintenance assessment district.

The official, taxpayer-funded, ballot material sent to Golden Hill homeowners by the City of San Diego contained only arguments in favor of establishing the maintenance assessment district, and none against.

Homeowners who opposed the maintenance assessment district were not given even a small portion of -- much less an equal share of -- the $40,000 "grant" from Councilman Hueso and were effectively silenced. They had no resources with which to warn fellow-homeowners why they should vote against the ballot measure and why they should vote against placing day to day control of the maintenance assessment district with the "GGHCDC".

For these reasons, the vote to establish the Golden Hill maintenance assessment district, and to designate the "GGHCDC" to have day to day control over the operations of the maintenance assessment district, was conducted like one of those one-sided elections in third-world dictatorships where only one party's candidates appear on the ballot.

Once the maintenance assessment district was approved (by a very narrow margin), for the next four years, the "GGHCDC" had control of the maintenance assessment district's budget (which came to approximately two million dollars over four years, at $450,000 a year in revenues), as well as its day-to-day operations. That four-year history remains to be told and merits further investigative reporting by The Reader.

The After-MAD in Golden Hill

The Golden Hill maintenance assessment district never did pass the smell test.

It left the community fractured and divided. That's because the Golden Hill CDC, operating with a grant of approximately $45,000 from former District 8 representative Ben Hueso, shoved the maintenance assessment district down the community's throat without public debate.

The recipients of the seed money (the Golden Hill CDC) spent Hueso's money sending mailer after mailer to Golden Hill homeowners, touting the benefits of a maintenance assessment district, making promises as to how the district would be managed and how the funds would be spent.

It was pure propaganda. None of the seed money was shared with the opponents of the district, who couldn't match the firepower of a $45,000 budget.

Nor was the proposed maintenance assessment district debated in any public forums. There was exactly one public forum (at Brooklyn Elementary School, now the Einstein Academy), sponsored and controlled by Councilman Hueso, who permitted written questions from the audience, but no public comment. When audience members tried to speak to express their opposition, they were told to be quiet.

The official City voter guide to the ballot contained only arguments in favor of the maintenance assessment district, none against it.

The entire process bore an eery resemblance to Soviet-style government. One side got to speak. The other side got silenced.

This silencing continued after the maintenance assessment district took effect. Elections were conducted to select the advisory board. When the Golden HIll CDC didn't like the advice it was getting from this independently-elected board, the Golden Hill CDC disbanded the board, replacing elected members with appointed members. Once again, it bore a resemblance to the way Soviets did things, not how Americans do things. Complaints to Councilman Hueso went ignored.

Fortunately, when all the arguments were presented ot the California Court of Appeal, the court found the maintenance assessment district illegal, and ordered it disbanded. This is a fortunate resolution. The maintenance assessment district was a cancer on Golden Hill and on democratic principles. It needed to be gotten rid of. And hopefully soon it will be gone.

The After-MAD in Golden Hill

It's worth pointing out at the meeting, those who cried the loudest over the loss of the maintenance assessment district were real estate agents and landlords.

At the meeting one real estate agent complained it would be more difficult to sell homes in Golden Hill without the maintenance assessment district. Tell that to anyone who tried to buy a house in Golden Hill in the bad old unmaintained days of the late 1990's, when homes in Goilden Hill were selling like hot cakes.

Golden Hill has been and always will be an older, slightly frumpy looking neighborhood, whose charm is precisely its older, slightly frumping looking, appearance. Golden Hill has always had, and will continue to have, Rebecca's Coffee House (on Juniper) and the Big Kitchen (on Grape). Anyone want to try to improve on those two class-act businesses using maintenance assessment funds?

The Golden Hill CDC recently started paying a two-man crew to operate a weed-whacker to cut back weeds in the space between the sidewalks and the street. They show up to whack, even if nothing has grown back since the last time they whacked. This irritating crew does not sweep up after themselves. Instead they aim their noisy gasoline-powered leaf blower at the homeowner's driveway. The homeowner comes home to find leaves and other debris -- things that weren't in the space between the sidwalk and the street to begin with -- covering his or her driveway. The homeowner is left to sweep up the mess made by the maintenance assessment district.

Moreover, the Golden Hill CDC uses maintenance assessment district funds not to maintain the neighborhood, but on projects that then require ongoing maintenance. They placed completely unnecessary very large pots with flowers on sidewalks (where did they get the permission to do that?), which require regular watering. They installed dog-poop plastic bag dispensers, which must be continually refilled, and which responsible dog owners don't need. They drilled holes through the cement sidewalks (where did they get permission to do that?) to install trash receptacles which must be regularly emptied, even though the city provides and maintains its own trash receptables. They installed cigarette butt receptables which must be continually emptied and which responsible smokers don't need.

The Golden Hill CDC used maintenance assessment district funds to engage in "beautification" projects, such as the placement of banners on utility poles (where did they get the permission to do that?), identifying the neighborhood, and drilling holes through the cement sidewalks (where did they get permission to do that?) to install uncomfortable metal benches which rarely get used.

If the truth be told, the Golden Hill maintenance assessment district is not about the neighborhood of Golden Hill. It's about the cash-strapped Golden Hill CDC, which will lose one of its revenue streams once the maintenance assessment district stops operations.

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