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Budget Shortfall and Continuing Fiscal Problems Plaguing Irvine

January 23, 1994

* Foresight would have alienated some of Irvine's $4.5-million budget shortfall ("90's Fiscal Policy Calls for City Cuts," Jan. 14). Just last year the City Council executed rather poor judgment by removing a reasonable business head tax in their effort to appear business friendly.

They have ignored the downtrend in the real estate market. Now with dwindling development fees leaving a giant void in the coffers at City Hall, one has to wonder if this is a harbinger of things to come, a time when the city is built out and there are no more developer fees on which to rely. A time when the developers have taken their profit and moved on to greener pastures and the city, which has relied on the fees to bring a heavy cash infusion, now must continue to support the infrastructure all the development has brought.

What will happen when the residents no longer receive the services they were drawn to when they bought into the dream and purchased their homes in Irvine? Will Irvine fall into disrepair and approach bankruptcy as other cities have or will the residents find themselves digging deep into their pockets to pay increasingly higher taxes to support these services?

No doubt about it, the developer fees can be likened to a pyramid game; it's great when the door opens at the beginning, but watch out when the door closes.



* As a longtime Irvine business owner and homeowner, it's clear to me why Irvine is facing such a precarious fiscal crisis. The city, like all municipalities, needs to be less dispirited. It must engage in more substantive pro-business measures.

In December my full-service photo center successfully raised nearly $4,000 for the Irvine Animal Shelter through its assistance with "Santa Paws."

Other than the wonderful people at the animal shelter, the city offered no accommodation or support to encourage further contributions.

That's all right because the pets we helped save and their owners sure were appreciative, as were we for proving that the private sector can help and make a difference. I hope our year-round contributions serve as a catalyst for other small businesses to also get involved.

There is more. With just three shopping days until Christmas we received a notice of violation for a banner that has been displayed for nearly 18 months (each evening we carefully took it down).

Nice timing. The sign was our single best marketing tool and we lost sales during our busiest season; the city also lost valuable sales tax revenues.

Now, with no banner displayed, we are told that $118 is the fee we must pay for the privilege of hanging an approved banner--with only very specific text--in front of the store, and then for no longer than 30 days per year.

Have you, like me, noticed banners flying in most shopping centers, real estate signs on street corners and huge billboards proclaiming sites for property developments? Something doesn't seem equitable. The sign ordinance is being changed, but it's too late and not business-friendly enough. We will need to work together to shape a more responsive city for its residents and businesses.



* There is no bigger hypocrite in Irvine than Mark P. Petracca. He relentlessly vilifies non-liberals, while praising liberals for putting on clean underwear. His recent letter in the Times ("Paradise Has Been Lost in Irvine," Jan 16) attacks the current city administration for balancing the exorbitant budget created by ex-mayor, Larry Agran. As our liberal mayor, Larry built City Mahal, a breathtaking limestone and granite monument to squandered public funds.

The point is that Mark never criticized Larry's profound waste merely because Larry is Mark's liberal soul mate. How consummately dishonest.



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