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Requested fire funds are available if we redesign county operations


Last updated 10/11/2019 at 9:52am

While everyone wants the best possible fire service, the new North County Fire Protection District proposal of a special tax at a flat rate $5 per month per parcel to be voted Oct. 24 is one more thing added to the growing numbers of small taxes being levied on the public.

The goal of raising $1 million per year is likely realistic and will likely be put to good use, but it is again, one more tax.

I believe the resources needed are available with just a bit of rerouting. I’ve made this proposal to the San Diego Country board of supervisors but am consistently ignored, although the plan is sound.

My proposal is that Signage Enforcement branch of county government become a self-sustaining entity, thereby able to release thousands of dollars back into the county budget for actual needs. Once accomplished, we can redirect these funds.

Currently, the Signage Enforcement Department runs a fulltime operation charged with removing the illegal signage on public lands throughout the county. It includes all of those signs along the public right of way, which is the easement along every county street and road.

You see signs for businesses, homes for sale and a variety of personal interests on an ongoing basis. Some are on wooden posts while others are attached to traffic posts or in the ground. What they all have in common is that they include clear instructions on how to contact the sign owner, and all are illegal.

The practice runs as it has for 50 years. The county receives a call about the illegal signage, sends staff to check on the complaint, verifies the property lines, sends a crew to remove the sign and notifies the perpetrator who promptly puts up another sign. This round robin activity goes without a break, and repeat offenders are cause for this full time activity.

Eventually, after several warnings, the offender receives a verbal spanking and possibly a small fine. The fine, however, is not the actual cost of removal of the sign from public land. Serial offenders know the system, and some who finally do receive fines, just add it into the cost of doing business. The insignificant fine is still a good deal for the free advertising received.

After years of following this issue, I believe it is past time to revamp this system. It is time to allow offenders to pay the full cost of breaking the law. It’s fairly simple; if the cost of removing an illegal sign, from the first telephone call and through the entire process of paying staff wages and benefits is $4,000, then so be it. When someone is a repeat offender, the fines should appropriately increase.

Within days and without hurting law abiding citizens, signage enforcement could be self-sustaining. Revenues budgeted could be routed to the services communities need. Rather than simply tax the community, we need to look at what we can restructure, shift and use more appropriately.

Susan Trump


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