FORUM: Retired firefighter: Vote ‘no’ on Prop. A

FORUM: Retired firefighter: Vote ‘no’ on Prop. A

28 October 2008

published by

USA — I have a very great concern about the proposed Proposition A ballot measure that San Diego County has placed on the November ballot. Please read it carefully before you decide how you are going to vote on this matter.

I would like to outline a few good reasons to cast a “no” vote on San Diego County Prop. A.

As it is written, keep in mind that it will add a $52-a-year (for 30 years) tax increase to your property taxes and on every parcel within the county. And, in some cases, the cost could be even more. There are hundreds of parcels within the county that have no improvements of any kind other than simply being land, and on some of these pieces of land that are smaller —- 5 to 25 acres —- these owners could see a 5 percent to 20 percent increase in their taxes.

It all sounds good on paper, and when you listen to some of our county supervisors talk about what they can do with the approximately $55 million, they want more air tankers, more helicopters and more fire trucks.

What they fail to tell the public is that these items can do well on a normal day, but when these wind-driven firestorms, such as those during the past two to five years, have winds well in excess of 35-40 miles per hour, air tankers and helicopters cannot fly under those conditions.

There is also no way that any fire officer would put his personnel and firefighter apparatus in the front of a wall of fire moving at that speed. Most of the fires that occur when things are somewhat normal are extinguished and kept to a much smaller size of 100 acres or less.

The county says that of the approximately $55 million, they will give one-half of that money back to the various fire departments between Borrego Springs to the east and Oceanside on the west, and from the Mexican border up to the Riverside County line.

Another problem that has come to the surface is that a board member from one of these agencies has made a statement in a local paper that his department can, and I quote, “spend our $500,000 that we receive on anything we please.” I have a real problem with that comment.

Also, part of the county proposal states that some of the money would go towards a wildland fire training program. Most departments that respond to wildland fires have been training for years, usually early in the summer so as to be prepared when the big one hits.

The county also says it needs to spend money to improve the communication system within the county. They have been spending millions of dollars over the past 10 to 25 years to do just that. My concern is, will the powers that be ever get it correct?

Finally, I suggest that you read all the pros and cons of Prop. A before you go to the polls and cast your vote for this size of a tax increase for the next 30 years.

I feel that the county would be well advised to continue with a much more aggressive fuel management program to reduce the fuels so as to prevent these firestorms from moving in and destroying property.

We need to prevent a firestorm before it ever starts.

Again, I would urge you to vote “no” on the San Diego County Regional Fire Protection Measure on Nov. 4.

Borrego Springs resident Ron Parkinson is a retired division chief who spent 40 years with the North County Fire Protection District while stationed at Fallbrook.

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