Thursday, 01 December 2022

Murphy: Our own worst enemy

Most people would agree that Lake County has had more than its share of challenges lately, which makes it even more aggravating when our own local governments add to the burden.

For decades we have been told the centerpiece to our economic salvation was the South Main Street project in Lakeport, but even though politicians repeat this mantra again and again no actual work has been done on it, and this sad fact is likely to be the case for the foreseeable future.

The city of Lakeport was supposed to annex the area, and wants to extend its water lines that end adjacent to the project, but the county has its own plan that involves running a line from the Finley/Kelseyville system at an estimated cost of $5.5 million that they hope to fund with a USDA grant. The rest of the money for the project has been sitting in the bank for over a decade, over $10 million, much of which was paid by people who either didn’t or won’t live long enough to see the project started let alone finished.

The county has for years refused to meet with the Lakeport City Council to resolve this dilemma, and doesn’t seem to care that a lot of federal money is planned to be used to lay miles of transfer pipeline, instead of the city’s far simpler plan of simply extending Lakeport’s system.

Maybe the county thinks the USDA is so dumb they won’t see the absurd wastefulness of their plan, and District 4 Supervisor Tina Scott has boldly predicted that the project will be done in the summer of 2020 in spite of the fact that they have not even applied for the money let alone had it approved.

Another absurd aspect of this is the county’s negotiation team was supposed to do just that – negotiate with the city over the exact terms of the annexation, but has decided to ignore their stated purpose and has instead gone trolling for grant money to fund their own project, with the annexation goal now forgotten.

Meanwhile, the wretched pavement gets worse and the area looks like it is stuck in a time-warp circa 1967 with little sign of economic vitality, with serious visual blight and no long-promised wider/new pavement, underground phone and power lines, bike lanes, sidewalks, fire hydrants or streetlights.

While the city has done a number of things that could be considered unhelpful in this process, the bulk of the blame can be placed directly at the feet of the county Board of Supervisors, whose members are apparently unwilling to try to resolve the issues like property and sales tax revenue sharing that along with the water and sewer systems have kept the two sides apart.

In a bit of irony, negotiation team member Supervisor Tina Scott campaigned on the issue of economic development in the city of Lakeport, but signs of her assistance are hard if not impossible to find and she now seems to be more of an impediment to progress than a facilitator of it.

So we have two government entities working on the same project with two quite different plans for doing it and no sign of any willingness to compromise or cooperate, and the only thing clear at this point is it won’t be anytime soon before we see the improvements that have already long ago been paid for.

The economic dysfunction of Lake County begins right at the top, and the people we have turned to for leadership are taking us in the wrong direction – again.

Philip Murphy lives in Lakeport, Calif.

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