Friday, November 23, 2012

Progressives Look to Filner to Whack at San Diego's Economy

Kelly Davis of CityBeat has performed a public service in detailing some areas where Bob Filner's philosophy will have a negative impact on the city's economy.  Of course, Davis doesn't take that view, but a review of potential "progressive" action items doesn't bode well for the local economy.
  • Development. Progressives complain about the city reorganization that saved some money and by moving the planning department to a division in the development department.  The building industry is supposedly in favor of the move, because of the potential to steam line the permitting process.  However, the move seems to draw the ire of progressives for lack of "transparency."  But faster permitting would seem to promote economic growth, so what is the real complaint here?
  • Transportation. Progressives are hoping that Filner will pour even more money down the rat hole of the public transit system.  Our Attorney General, Kamala Harris, supposedly doesn't like the fact that SANDAG's transport plan has too much emphasis on freeway widening.  A shift in emphasis and funding away from freeways to public transport will of course just cause more traffic jams.
  • Housing. The liberal belief is that the way to increase affordable housing is to subsidize the production of low income housing.  Despite the city's budget woes related specifically to the changes Jerry Brown gutted the redevelopment agencies, the left is hoping Filner will divert money to low income housing.  Steven Greenhut details the way in which government run housing projects decrease the stock of housing available to the poor in Reason.  The best way to increase affordable housing is to increase the total amount of housing being built.  The increased stock acts as increased supply, and the laws of supply and demand drive down the overall cost of housing.
  • Electrical Power Production.  Progressives were upset with Sanders' support for two power plant projects and look to Filner to take their side.  How the city is supposed to get less dependent on importing power over "single point of failure links" is not spelled out.  Having lived through the disaster September 2011, I am acutely aware of the risks we face.  The FERC study on that disaster points out that the system is subject relatively too few nodes for transmission of electricity, as I have reviewed.  If this stand is in the name of environmental protection, then how much air pollution occurs when thousands of people fire up their portable gasoline generators, break out charcoal bbqs, and toss out food when we lose power?
  • Tourism.  Look for the hotel tax increase that funds tourism outreach (under the Tourism Management District) to come under assault.  Filner advocated shifting the money to "public safety" in an October debate, questioning the legality of the tax.  I question the legality as well and would propose repeal.  However, Filner reveals his instincts are those of a big government thug, when rather than rescind a tax the hoteliers imposed on themselves, he wants to seize the cash for the city.  Either the tax is illegal and gets repealed or it should stand and be used for tourism.
Kelly's article opened with a discussion of Filner proposing providing subsidies for families of students who couldn't afford the $36 per month bus pass.  It makes a nice sound bite, but I really question how many students fall in that category.  Where is the study?  Where is the evidence?  How many employees will be hired or diverted from other work to run a small bureaucracy to determine which students are truly needy enough to get free passes?  If we base the decision on income, who will audit compliance with federal privacy laws when these people provide their income tax returns as proof of need?  If we don't require proof, how are the subsidies not going to drain the transit system coffers as students line up to collect the free passes?  Will my son, who lives at home, but is unemployed and goes to a community college get a pass?  If so, why? we are relatively well off.  If not, why not? Are we discriminating based on the basis of family origin?  Nobody asks these questions when politicians just announce some fabulous free crap.  Maybe if we always did, they would be embarrassed into working on real issues, like how are we going to implement a budget that works.

A Filner administration may give me ample material for my blog, but that is cold comfort when his policies won't be helping an economy that badly needs it.


  1. Filner... It is hard to come to a conclusion where voters elect Filner to be the mayor.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Every problem has the same solution. More taxes on the wealthy and more government intervention. That's not a solution set, that's a religion.

  4. KT, to steal a phrase, it's no longer a bug but a feature.