This is an archive of a past election.
See for current information.
LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Smart Voter
San Diego County, CA November 4, 2008 Election
Proposition A
Regional Fire Protection Ballot Measure
County of San Diego

2/3 Approval Required

Fail: 717183 / 63.58% Yes votes ...... 410828 / 36.42% No votes

See Also: Index of all Propositions

Results as of Jan 24 10:40am
Information shown below: Yes/No Meaning | Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

To improve wildfire prevention and firefighting capabilities, shall the County of San Diego ordinance be adopted to establish a special fire protection parcel tax and provide for the establishment of a Regional Fire Protection Agency to coordinate expenditures and regional efforts including: Specialized emergency equipment such as helicopters and airplanes; Wildfire training programs for emergency personnel; Communications systems to improve response times; and, Brush clearing and other programs to help prevent wildfires?

Meaning of Voting Yes/No
A YES vote on this measure means:
A "yes" vote is a vote in favor of adopting the proposed ordinance.

A NO vote on this measure means:
A "no" vote is a vote against adopting the proposed ordinance.

Impartial Analysis from County Council
The County Board of Supervisors approved this ballot measure to be submitted to the voters. This ballot measure, identified as Proposition A, is a proposed County ordinance, entitled "An Ordinance to Improve and Enhance Firefighting Resources & Services by Adoption of a Regional and Local Fire Protection Parcel Tax." All voters in the entire County, including voters in all the cities and the County's unincorporated area, are asked to vote on Proposition A.

The purpose of Proposition A's proposed ordinance is to adopt a County special tax (known as the fire protection parcel tax) so that the tax revenues can be used to improve and enhance firefighting resources and services for regional and local purposes. In addition, this proposed ordinance provides for the establishment of a countywide joint powers agency, which would be named the San Diego Regional Fire Protection Agency ("Regional Agency") that will manage, administer, and oversee the regional parcel tax funding for the deployment of regional firefighting resources and services.

A vote of two-thirds (2/3rds) of the voters voting on Proposition A is required to approve the ordinance. If approved, the ordinance would be adopted and a special tax applied to all real property parcels. The base rate of the tax would be $52/parcel per year. For large parcels, and large structures/improvements on parcels, this base rate would be increased by $1.00 for each acre in excess of 50 acres on a parcel, and 1 for each square foot in excess of 10,000 square feet of a structure/improvement. The maximum tax cannot exceed $1,000/year. The parcel tax would commence fiscal year 2009-2010 (beginning July 1, 2009), and would be due and payable at the same time as property taxes in December and April of each fiscal year. The tax rate and maximum tax are subject to an annual adjustment based on the local Consumer Price Index. The duration of the tax is limited to 30 years.

The tax revenues would generate approximately $50 million/year. Half the revenues would be allocated to the Regional Agency for regional purposes, and the other half to local agencies for local purposes. The local agencies include the County, all 18 cities, and all local agencies responsible for providing fire protection services within the unincorporated area. The local agencies are required to continue to spend a specified level of their own funds on fire protection in order to receive their full allocation of parcel tax revenues.

If this ballot measure is approved, the local agencies will enter into a Joint Powers Agreement that will create the Regional Agency. The Regional Agency's governing body includes 10 voting members: one member from the Board of Supervisors, the Mayor of the City of San Diego, four city council members from four of the remaining 17 cities, and four members from local agencies in the unincorporated area that provide fire protection services.

  Local News and Analysis

ABC 10 News San Diego

East County Magazine KPBS San Diego Public Broadcasting NBC San Diego North County Times
This election is archived. Any links to sources outside of Smart Voter may no longer be active. No further links will be added to this page.
Links to sources outside of Smart Voter are provided for information only and do not imply endorsement.

Arguments For Proposition A Arguments Against Proposition A
We've all witnessed, first hand, the devastating impact on our community of two major firestorm in the past five years. All told, these fires claimed 27 lives, destroyed more than 4,000 home and led to one of the largest mass evacuations in American history.

Experts agree it is only a matter of time before another wildfire strikes our region again.

Passage of PROPOSITION A will dramatically improve our ability to fight future wildfires and significantly bolster day-to-day emergency services in every corner of our region.

Most importantly, passage of PROPOSITION A will provide necessary funding for the immediate acquisition of new fire trucks, new firefighting helicopters and aerial tankers - all to be used exclusively here in our local neighborhoods.

PROPOSITION A will provide the funds required to upgrade our emergency communication system, which will allow firefighters, police officers, dispatchers and other emergency responder to communicate with each other much more effectively.

PROPOSITION A will also strengthen local brush management and brush clearance programs reducing the very fuel that enables wildfires to spread.

PROPOSITION A provides for the establishment of Regional Fire Protection Agency to ensure better coordinated responses, resulting in quicker response times, and greater efficiency.

All of this can be accomplished with most property owners contributing only one dollar per week!

PROPOSITION A has strong taxpayer safeguards. It requires that proceeds be shared between rural fire districts and urban fire departments, ensuring that fire services in the entire region are improved. It also guarantees that funds cannot be diverted for other purposes or taken for use by either the state or federal government.

Please join community leaders, your neighbors and firefighters in ensuring we have the resource! and equipment we need before we face that next, inevitable wildfire. Vote Yes on PROPOSITION A !

Mayor of San Diego

Fire Chief/President,
San Diego County Fire District Association


Fire Chief/President,
San Diego County Fire Chiefs' Association

Chair, Board of Supervisors
Chair, San Diego County Unified Disaster Council

Rebuttal to Arguments For
Here's what Proposition A proponents neglected to tell you:

  • San Diego County adopted a 2007-2008 budget of about $4.7 billion, over 8% higher than the previous year. County revenues have soared in recent years, but our Supervisors have chosen not to fund these firefighting improvements from their swollen budgets.

  • By supporting this tax, our Supervisors essentially are deciding that all other budget spending is more important than firefighting - that there isn't $50 million to be found in a $4.7 BILLION county budget. That's about ONE PERCENT of the budget. Amazing!

  • Aside from sheriffs and jails, what other county spending category could possibly be as important as fighting brush fires? Judging from our Supervisors' decision, apparently just about EVERYTHING else is more important than firefighting.

  • Our County Supervisors annually distribute $10 million from their taxpayer-funded discretionary accounts (informally known as their "slush funds"). They give only a pittance of this money to firefighting - most goes to narrow special interest groups.

  • Perhaps if firefighters started funding trips overseas for the Supervisors, they'd have more luck getting these discretionary funds. Sure seemed to work for other groups!

  • Tax hikers in just about every local government probably are hoping this parcel tax passes. If it does, it likely will encourage politicians to bring forward more and probably larger parcel taxes in the future. Hence this issue is far bigger than "only a dollar a week."

  • This tax rises with a cost of living index. Bad idea!

Enough! No new taxes. No on Prop A!

Assemblyman, 77th District


La Mesa City Councilwoman

Real Estate Broker

Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighter

In the teeth of this recession, with record energy prices, soaring unemployment and plummeting home values, the county presents its solution - RAISE TAXES! What are they smoking?!

This tax is for fire protection, which should be a top priority for government. But we already pay plenty of taxes to provide firefighting.

If we need more money for this critical service, we should SHIFT funds from other less important government functions - such as the current policy of providing most thirty year county workers with two pensions that together far exceed their highest salary.

It's bad enough that politicians want to raise taxes. But this time they are after the poorest and weakest of our citizens.

This parcel tax charges the same $52 to almost all property owners - residential and business. Hence it is EXTREMELY regressive, hurting the working class and retirees the most. A two million dollar homeowner will pay the same parcel tax as a $200,000 condo owner.

Equally disturbing is that the county and local jurisdictions refuse to pursue more innovative, cost effective options to fight our infrequent but devastating brush fires. Options such as:

  • Ask our thousands of firefighter-trained military to help fight the fires, especially in suburbia.

  • Form an emergency reserve volunteer firefighter brigade.

  • Train homeowners who want to stay and defend their homes - especially suburban homes - from the brush fire embers that cause most house fires.

In this recession, California politicians have gone tax crazy. Our state and local ballots will be filled with taxes and bonds galore. It's time to say no to ALL the tax increases.

And especially to this parcel tax. If this measure passes, count on more parcel tax propositions in future elections.

We pay more than enough taxes now. Vote NO on A.

Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighter

Candidate, Encinitas City Council

Newspaper Columnist

Ranchita Homeowner

Chair, Libertarian Party of San Diego County

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
Thousands of homes in our communities were burned to the ground by raging wildfires in 2003 and 2007.

When the next firestorm strikes, the San Diego region must be better prepared!

Proposition A will provide funds for equipment our fire fighters desperately need to protect the people of San Diego County.

Proposition A will allow our fire departments and local governments to acquire equipment critical for fighting fires, like helicopters, aerial tankers and fire trucks.

Proposition A will fund much-needed upgrades to communication systems currently relied upon by emergency personnel during disasters.

The short-sighted opponents of Proposition A would have you believe that we already have enough money to pay for the increased fire protection we need. They simplistically suggest that money be taken away from other important services to fund fire protection. But this could cripple police service, undermine road repairs, cut library hours and even shut down parks.

San Diegans understand that robbing Peter to pay Paul by putting existing services at risk is just a bad idea, not a solution.

Proposition A will fund aggressive brush clearing, vegetation management, flammable materials removal programs; and greater public education to prevent fires from starting and spreading.

And most importantly, funds generated by Proposition A will stay right here in San Diego County. These funds cannot be used for anything other than expanding our region's fire fighting services and increasing fire protection.

When the next devastating wildfire strikes, will San Diego County be ready? The decision is ours. Please vote YES on Proposition A.

RON ROBERTS, County Supervisor
Co-Chair, Regional Fire Protection Committee

Executive Director, Burn Institute


Board Certified Emergency Medicine Physician
Disaster Medical Response Specialist

City of San Diego

San Diego Home Page || Statewide Links || About Smart Voter || Feedback
Created: January 24, 2009 10:40 PST
Smart Voter <>
Copyright © League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
The League of Women Voters neither supports nor opposes candidates for public office or political parties.