As mentioned in my previous blog I want to discuss ideas I have for increasing business revenue in El Cajon. I must go on record as saying these are ideas I want to pursue but bringing them to fruition will take time and effort (which I am willing to put forth) and some of the items may meet road blocks and/or may not be feasible to achieve after negotiations with the business. I will not broker a deal that I don’t think will be beneficial to both El Cajon as well as to the business itself. It will do little good to give concession to a business only to see it fail a short time later.

    The first approach is to recruit businesses that are unique to the surrounding area. It will do nothing to draw people from outside the area to open another Wal-Mart or Home Depot when they have one in their own back yard. I want to see businesses come in to the area that will draw people from surrounding cities. An outdoor superstore like a Cabela’s, Outdoor World, or
Sportsman’s Warehouse would draw people from all over Southern California and even from Mexico. El Cajon is losing its battle on this front to cities like Santee who have Sonic and are on the verge of getting Chik-fil-A and Phil’s Bar BQ. But, there are other franchise businesses that should be looked at that have major followings and tons of advertising, such as, Buffalo Wild Wings, White Castle, Churches Chicken, Etc... I believe the El Cajon Brewery can be used in the same mold but must be marketed correctly and must be embraced by the city bars and restaurants.

  The second opportunity is to get manufacturing industry companies into El Cajon. This would have a positive impact on the city in multiple ways. It would make more jobs available and with El Cajon having the highest poverty rate in the county this is much needed. It will fill vacant space and will provide additional tax and business revenues. Having been in the manufacturing industry for the past 26 years I feel my experience and knowledge can help recruit this type of industry to El Cajon.

  The third opportunity is to find ways to bring consumers to the area. As mentioned previously, unique businesses will help. Also, getting the East County Performing Arts Center re-opened for performances will bring people into El Cajon multiple times a week. Again, I want to mention what is happening in Santee, and why we are behind the curve in developing a sportsplex. We have Wells Park that is not being used to it capabilities or even the vacant land around the airport along Weld Ave that could house such a venue. It gets hot in East County how about a water park somewhere.  What about bringing back the friendship festival or a winter festival? There are areas that this can be done, like the vacant land between the baseball field at El Cajon High School and Main Street. A trolley or shuttle system that brings people to various locations around El Cajon will make it easier for consumers to get to the businesses without the hassles of finding parking.

 The fourth opportunity is through El Cajon’s growth. How about annexing some of the unincorporated areas into the city? I’ve heard from multiple people that live one or two blocks outside the incorporated city limits that they would like a say in what happens in El Cajon. They are directly affected by the cities politics and operations yet they have no say to who is elected. By being part of the city they would get the use of the city services and have a vote in the city politics and in turn the city receives the property taxes. This is a lengthy process and requires a majority vote by the area to be annexed. It would involve a lot of work from the city and some PR but I think there are areas that will be happy to join the city.
  
  Lastly, the city needs to look internally at what it can do better to help businesses. The city needs to do a better job of expediting the permitting process, cutting through the bureaucracy and red tape. El Cajon leaders should not only get new businesses running, but help them to succeed once they are established. I’ve heard from multiple businesses that the sign ordinances are too restrictive. We need to evaluate them and work with the businesses as well as the city residents to find a win/win solution for advertising. The PBID organization only works with businesses in the downtown area. What about establishing an organization with a broader scope to help with businesses along second street, Broadway, Jamacha, and other areas?

These ideas and so much more can get El Cajon known as a city where people want to visit and/or live. ake the correct decision in November.
Vote the clear choice "For a Better El Cajon"
Duane Swainston for City Council.

 
 
  There are two propositions that contribute to El Cajon having the highest sales tax in the surrounding cities. Proposition O was a .50% increase in the city sales tax that was approved by the voters in 2004 for a term of 10 years. Proposition J  was also a .50% increase in sales tax that was approved by the voters in 2008 but this one has a term of 20 years. Since both propositions were passed by the voters, blame should not be put on the incumbents for the increase but the overall management of these funds, particularly Prop J, can be tied to the city
leaders.
  First off I believe Prop O did serve its purpose and was a worthwhile investment. The revenues raised from the sales tax were to be used to fund the replacement of police and fire facilities with combined earthquake-safe facilities including the latest public safety technology and an Emergency Operations Center to coordinate disaster response, relocating or upgrading fire stations, and replacing animal control facilities. These goals were accomplished or are being accomplished and the tax will expire in November of 2014 (actually coming off the books in the spring of 2015). When this proposition expires it should allow El Cajon to be back at the sales tax level of the surrounding cities.
  Now Prop J, on the other hand, is the poster child for all things I despise about tax increases. First off, prop J passed by less than 1%. Secondly, 20 years is too long of duration to be on the books. In the current economic climate you would never see this tax passed again. Thirdly, the wording on this proposition states-The revenues raised from the sales tax are not specified for a particular purpose, but will be available to fund ongoing and essential governmental services, including police and fire operations, recreational services, parks and building maintenance services, and other, general, city services. Thus, the city leaders can use it whichever way they like with the phrase “essential government services”. If this tax was managed correctly along with the city budget it should have been a benefit to the city. You would not see city employees go through years without a pay increase, you would not see a reason to facilitate furlough days, you would not see the city have to defer essential maintenance, etc… alas this is not the case.
  If you research the budget prior to prop J (2007-2008) you will find the city revenue was $48,859,573 but now (2012-2013) the city revenue is $50,088,402 which includes $7,400,000 of the added prop J money thus without that added prop J fund the city revenues would have decreased to $42,688,042 that is a reduction of $6,171,531 in city revenues without Prop J. It is hard to tell how much prop J has affected the overall revenue stream through consumers going to other cities to shop but one thing is certain it has not been the cure all for the city’s needs. Instead of the city leaders finding ways to increase the revenue stream to pay for the essential needs of the city, they use the prop J money as a crutch and they still require too many cuts across the board. Government has never been efficient in managing additional money. You may hear the incumbents say they would like to end this tax early but based on performance to date, how is that possible? It is up to the city leaders to find a way to increase the city revenue stream but for the last four years that has not been accomplished. It is up to you and me to expect better results from the money we already pay into the city.

Some of this information was also mentioned in a previous blog but I thought it was so important to the decision making process for the voters that it bore repeating. In the next blog I will share my ideas on ways I believe we can increase city revenues and the changes that should be made to the city’s general plan.

 Remember In November make the clear choice for
“A Better El Cajon”
Elect Duane Swainston to City Council.