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Is There a Proposition A Campaign?

The boldest step San Diego leaders have taken to boost fire protection since last October was to put Prop A on the ballot. Prop A would raise $50 million for fire fighting resources though a new parce

Is There a Proposition A Campaign?

The boldest step San Diego leaders have taken to boost fire protection since last October was to put Prop A on the ballot. Prop A would raise $50 million  for fire fighting resources though a new parcel tax.

But so far there’s little evidence of a campaign to fight for the measure. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

County Supervisor Ron Roberts led months of meetings with local mayors and fire chiefs to come up with the idea of a parcel tax  for fire safety.

Proposition  A would charge every property owner in the county a base of $52  a year. The money would be split between existing local fire districts and a new Joint Powers Authority.

But there’s been little sign of a campaign to back the measure.

Local officials are prohibited by law from campaigning, but Augie Ghio, President of the Fire Chiefs Association, says he’s been out and about, “educating” the public.

Ghio : We’re never letting the words escape out lips that say “vote for Prop A.” What we’re saying is this is what Prop A is, this is what will it do for the region, for your local fire agency and this is what this means to our citizens.

Ghio says it’s an uphill battle winning support for Prop A, especially  when 4 San Diego cities also have hotel or sales tax increases on their ballots

But UCSD Professor Steve Erie of San Diego’s Fire Safety Forum says San Diegans pay far less in taxes than Los Angeles residents for fire safety. He supports Prop A , though he says it’s too little too late. And he wonders if putting it on the ballot was a symbolic gesture for the region’s political leaders.

Erie : This requires a two thirds vote of the people, this is a new tax . You usually need a very well funded campaign to get over that very high bar. I think from the beginning that this was a cover your posterior proposal.

Critics say the measure was put together too hastily. But Mayor Jerry Sanders supports putting the parcel tax on the ballot while last October’s wildfires are fresh in San Diegans minds. 

There are complaints that the tax means urban residents would subsidize less populated backcountry regions where most of the wild fires start. Most of the 18 cities around the county have not yet taken a position on the measure.

Alison St John, KPBS News.

Note: A web site has recently gone up, but efforts to contact a campaing have so far struck out.

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