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Water Restriction in Place Countywide

Mayor Janney: Property Value Increases Key to City's Future

Rezoning for increased density, business permit applications and tourism focus of long-term goals to close looming budget deficits.

The City of Imperial Beach faces a $350,000 budget gap with the start of the new fiscal year July 1, and possibly a $1.5 million gap in the next two years.

City Council took immediate action on one of its short-term goals to incentivize staff to quit last Wednesday, and talked about the city's long-term vision.

Mayor Jim Janney said Imperial Beach is already a "lean and mean" government and with possible state and federal tax increases, raising local taxes is not an option.

"If some of these employee incentives work, we are going to be at bare bones," he said. "The disparity between our property tax revenue versus our sales tax, property tax revenues is much larger than sales tax. It is property value that drives those numbers."

Janney said the city has to inspire property owners to do more with their land.

He said underutilized places to look are the 13th Street quarter, Palm Avenue, the north bay front and the west side of 7th Street that could hold more density if rezoned.

He said there is no motivation for current and prospective owners to move forward with rehab of old property or construction of new property.

"I think we should look at some of the zoning changes that would fit in the corridors that would not affect single-family residential areas," he said. "We need a real bang for our buck here in these times."

Councilman Ed Spriggs supported Janney and said with the public safety budget being the "guerilla in the room" that the city had difficult decisions to make. He said council really needs to grow a larger local economy and tax base.

He said at a recent economical development presentation the core point was identifying the city's major assets and investing around them.

"Ours is in tourism, specifically manifested around the new hotel," said Spriggs. "Every community needs to decide on where its growth engine is and who its anchor tenants are."

He said along with the Port of San Diego the city has put out millions of dollars into the waterfront area and that is where investment is necessary. Spriggs said not to take a "scatter gun approach," but to be strategic and focus efforts likely to have the best return.

"We know through our ecotourism study that tourism and ecotourism are keys to our growth," Spriggs said. "The tourism environment also improves our quality of life because we can use some of those same amenities in this community. It is a clean industry and something we should all be thinking about more seriously."

Spriggs said he was not looking to rezone Seacoast Drive, but to focus on what is available to work with around the hotel.

"This is not an area that we have had a consensus as a council," he said.

Spriggs said businesses he spoke with would like to see the city streamline permit applications to get their businesses operating.

"That is what is going to drive filling in those lots, but we have to do as much as we can to attract more people coming in," he said. "I think we need to listen to what the businesses are saying."

Councilman Jim King said this is hard now because redevelopment was the city's "basket of tools."

"It is also the question of putting all of your eggs in one basket, and I don't think we should do that either," he said. "We are not on the decline, financially we are, but as far as Imperial Beach being a place to go, people love this place."

Long-term goals was a discussion item only, no actions were taken.

Councilmember Brian Bilbray was absent.

To see all recommendations by city staff, see agenda item 6.3 on the attached agenda.

Earlier in the meeting, council unanimously approved a Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP) to create vacancies, providing flexibility to restructure city staff. VSIP offers a cash payment based on years of service and offered to all fulltime positions with the exception of city managers, finance director and fire safety positions.

Approved employees with 10 years of less receive $7,500, 11-19 years—$12,000 and 20 years plus—$20,000.

The city will pay $501 per month for a year to cover those under the city's health plan, and $240 per month for those not.

Additionally law required the payment of vacation and sick leave where applicable.

Capped at $250,000 these onetime expenditures will be paid with contingency reserves. City staff said it is too early to give a savings estimate until it knows how many participate.

Kendal Sharp April 25, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Mr Johnson you are spot on.
Tim O'Neal April 25, 2012 at 04:26 AM
Barry, the link below provides an interesting (if not entertaining) look at past discussions regarding bringing a tourist train to Imperial Beach. http://sweet-haven.com/bayshore/
Lenora Porcella April 25, 2012 at 10:14 AM
The mayor could inspire many of us to do more, if he could make the process more user friendly, and faster. He could eliminate a lot of blight if he'd make it easier to build a 2 car garage... <<Janney said the city has to inspire property owners to do more with their land.>> Maybe Mayor Janney doesn't know how tough it is to get a building permit. It's not just local business who wish the city could/would streamline the red-tape. <<He said there is no motivation for current and prospective owners to move forward with rehab of old property or construction of new property.>> In fact, it is just the opposite. The building department is making it tough for people to move forward with rehab and in the end, just encourages nonpermitted work and the proliferation of backyard sheds.
Ken May 05, 2012 at 05:16 AM
Barry, I used to feel the same way. Right now you can go to a city council meeting in the evening with a handful of fellow citizens and make an impact. Under one hypothetical, the City of San Diego taking over, it would be difficult to get this kind of impact. I am a fan of local control. I wish we had our own school district from the beach to the freeway with grade, middle and high-schools all part of that system instead of the monolith Sweetwater Distric and the South Bay District. Coronado's district has been locally controlled for years. What has the biggest school district in CA (Sweetwater) done for us? Look at the other schools in the district, including National City High, and you will see they threw us a old bone when they did a little remodel work at Mar Vista. So in order to keep local control yet regain fiscal viability, I propose the City file for Chapter 9 relief in bankruptcy court as the City of Valleho did several years back. Then we can start saving money by giving city employees a well deserved haircut. Start by rewriting collective bargaining/pension agreements as many of the airlines did during their Chapter 11 reorganizations. You notice no city employees leaving their jobs, and for good reason - the pay and the perks. Why give them a golden-handshake when you can give them a quick, well deserved kick in the bum on their way out the door?
Pop Quiz February 18, 2013 at 04:08 PM
Funny (sad) how more condos is always our councils answer. This thread was last year and yet here we go again with the Bernardo Shores situation. More high density housing in the city. Targeting the north side of Palm. I hope the Coastal Commission shuts it down. You know our city leadership wont. More is not always better.

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