Responding to William Fulton's Op-Ed article Monday positing a link between urban sprawl and municipal bankruptcies, reader Sidney P. Anderson of Mission Viejo writes:
"As a retired taxpayer whose home has been saved by Proposition 13, I consider Fulton's argument poorly disguised apologia. He does mention pensions half-heartedly in his discussion on what empties cities' coffers, but he fails to use the word 'union' even once. He evidently does not object to this cost but blames instead a lack of tax revenue to pay for it. He is obviously not a fan of nonunion taxpayers who end up paying for these unionized government workers' generous benefits.
" 'Sprawl' and Proposition 13 are to blame. Sure."
William Fulton responds:
As a longtime homeowner and taxpayer in Southern California — and a lifelong private sector employee — I largely agree with Anderson. So I believe he and I should share the goal of eliminating the structural deficit that traditional suburban development imposes on cities, a cost that will eventually be borne by taxpayers such as Anderson and myself. Smart growth is a good deal for taxpayers like Anderson.
I agree that public employee pension reform should be our highest priority in California. In eight years as a city council member and mayor of Ventura, I saw how rising pension costs eroded our ability to provide basic public services to our residents. My city pushed back against the unions harder than any other city in our county, and as a result we saved taxpayers millions of dollars. But an individual city's ability to make significant pension changes is limited, which is why I believe aggressive statewide reform is necessary.