Mission Beach doesn’t get MAD
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 04/06/17 - 06:46 AM | 2816 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The notion of forming a new maintenance assessment district to improve Mission Beach began with business owner John Valles asking himself while sweeping his trashed-out alley, “What can be done about it?”

A couple of years later, plans to follow through with creation of a Mission Beach MAD have been placed on indefinite hold. The reason: push back from community residents questioning its specifics, most notably its costs and purview.

But efforts to beautify the community, and resolve its problems and issues, continue unabated. As one example, Beautiful Mission Beach’s monthly beach cleanup on April 1 prevented more than 1,000 pounds of trash from reaching the Pacific Ocean and Mission Bay.

A MAD is a legal mechanism allowing property owners, both businesses and residents, to vote in a special district and tax themselves to pay for public improvements such as enhanced maintenance, landscaping or lighting services. There are currently 61 MADs throughout San Diego.

“There was never an intention to do anything against the community,” said Valles of the prospective MAD. “This was for the community. We're trying to create a permanent funding source to pay for addition trash pickup to mitigate the fly infestation every summer.”

And the fly problem, thanks to a second trash pickup which 2nd District Councilmember Lorie Zapf helped engineer in last year's city budget on a one-time basis, made a huge difference in Valles' view.

“It was so much better,” he contended. “The program was successful. All the restaurants … everybody was really happy.”

The fly infestation had become a serious issue, with restaurants hit hard in the beach community, getting cited by the health department as well as being beat up on Yelp reviews because of the nuisance.

“Flies weren't coming from the restaurants, they were coming from the alleys and the trash,” pointed out Valles.

That and other issues led to formation about three years ago of the 501 (c)3 nonprofit Beautiful Mission Beach.

“We had 40 people sign on initially to pursue it (nonprofit) and started down this road dedicated to beautification and community improvement,” said Valles. “It operates in lockstep with the Mission Beach Town Council.”

Concerning a new MB MAD, Mission Beach Town Council president Gary Wonacott noted, “The original MAD being promoted by Beautiful MB does not have support in the community to be approved and implemented for crucial services and projects in Mission Beach. The city is looking at the possibility of modifying an existing park and rec MAD to incorporate the funding for the second trash pickup. But again, this is a long-term process even if successful.”

Adding the proposed new MAD was “intended to raise additional revenues from property taxes for a variety of services and projects in Mission Beach focusing on the second trash pickup,” Wonacott added, “At the same time, the city is collecting an estimated $2 million-plus from Mission Beach short-term rental Transient Occupancy Taxes. It is likely that most of the beach communities — La Jolla, Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach — would support TOT funds coming back into their respective communities. The MBTC has sent a letter to Zapf to explore the possibility for some of these TOT funds to be kept in a special fund, and used for Mission Beach requirements.”

Valles noted the now-backburnered Mission Beach MAD would have increased the annual tax for many from about $20 to between $75 and $100 to do extra community improvement, including fly abatement.

Will the MAD ever be brought back?

“It's going to depend on whether there is positive community support for it,” said Valles. We're not going to force it. What we've done is, by putting that aside, we've opened up a lot of energy to be able to take care of some other programs we've been working on for the community, like 12 beach cleanups in 12 months.”

Valles said Beautiful Mission Beach has applied for an $80,000 county grant from Supervisor Ron Roberts to pay for a second summer trash pickup.

“We'll find out whether we got that or not in May,” he said.

Future community beach cleanups will include a special November cleanup honoring fallen community leader Maruta Gardner, who was killed while painting out graffiti by a hit-and-run intoxicated driver.

For more information visit www.beautifulmb.com, or www.facebook.com/beautifulmissionbeach.

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