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Danger to Itself and Its People

Posted on October 25, 2007 in Disasters

square394There’s no time for finger-pointing after the fires or — is there? The biggest tragedy of the 2007 fires is that the most devastating of them covered territory which was burned over in 2003. The Witch and Harris Fires repeated the cardinal mistakes of the previous fires in San Diego County and it all comes down to this: people in San Diego County don’t want to pay the costs of protecting themselves.

It’s not about planes: it’s about having the basic fire equipment stationed around the county. It’s about not building in areas susceptible to wildfire if you’re not going to tax the people enough. It’s about listening to your experts and following their lead in planning.

When it comes to not paying the price, there’s no one like the Republicans in San Diego County. And for the rest of us who do pay the taxes to ensure that we have adequate fire protection, they’re costing us money. If they were Democrats, there’s no doubt that you’d hear them called dead-beats. I am just going to say “How about getting on the wagon of community responsiveness? How about taking steps to ensure that you are better prepared before you give into the greed of developers who aren’t going to ensure that their unplanned communities are adequately covered?

I live in a Republican county, too. Unlike San Diego, we had enough fire crews and fire engines on hand to keep the Santiago Fire out of our structures (knock-knock). It was close — damned close — but we paid the cost over the course of several years.

Others saw the writing on the wall when San Diego voters turned down a hotel tax to help pay for better fire protection in 2003. If they do it again, the rest of us are in a position like family members of the mentally ill who must keep watching while their loved one keeps not taking his medication and ending up locked up. When is San Diego County going to tough it out like the rest of us? Maybe it is time to require mandatory levels of fire protection throughout the state, especially in urban areas. Or start putting large tracts of San Diego County into open space districts so that city and county planners in cahoots with developers can’t put new generations of citizens at risk.

San Diego — city and county — is a danger to itself and others. When a person is like that, you have a case to put them away.

Citizens of San Diego, I am pointing at you.

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