Of scooters, sidewalks and taxes

With 265 responses to the second of this year’s surveys, there were some interesting highlights.

Motorized scooters should be allowed on Concord sidewalks.

4.94 percent strongly agree.
12.55 agree.
15.97 neither agree nor disagree.
30.04 disagree.
36.50 strongly agree.

With more than 60 percent opposed and only 17 percent in favor, I don’t suppose scooters will run down any pedestrians anytime soon.

My recent experience in San Jose is illustrative of the potential problems associated with motorized scooters. San Jose allows motorized scooters but prohibits them on the sidewalks. Sidewalks are signed as such. However, they do have extensive downtown bike lanes.

At 7:30 in the morning, with no people in sight and no cars on the road, I walked to the street corner by the hotel when this blaze of wheeled insanity came around the corner and nearly turned me into a crime scene outline on the sidewalk.

Sidewalks in front of residential single-family homes which are on the property owner’s deed but within the public right-of-way should be the responsibility of the city to repair, replace and maintain. And the city should accept responsibility for trips and falls.

54.26 percent strongly agree.
27.91 agree.
8.53 neither agree nor disagree.
7.36 disagree.
1.94 strongly agree.

Wow. Do people realize that the words “the city” refer to all the taxpayers within Concord? I live in a corner, ranch-style house and have about 200 feet of sidewalk. My neighbor has about 20 feet. I do not believe it is fair that my neighbor should have to pay for the costs associated with the sidewalks in front of my house. And should all those apartment renters be required to cover the costs of the sidewalks in front of my house as well?

The reality is that state law says that since you own the sidewalk, even if the public owns a right-of-way over it, the owner is responsible.

FYI: The city does have a courtesy policy of placing some leveling asphalt to help with cracks or lifting of sidewalks, and a five-year inspection policy to warn owners of potential issues with their sidewalks. The city even offers a few ways to get a reduced price on a full sidewalk replacement. However the option is yours, as is the liability.

Additional city sales tax that is tied to a specific project like road repair/replacement should be allowed to be passed by a simple majority vote. (Note: Currently, it is subject to a 2/3rds supermajority vote by the City Council.)

12.26 percent strongly agree.
23.75 agree.
13.41 neither agree nor disagree.
29.21 disagree.
21.46 strongly disagree.

This makes me scratch my head. I wonder if the opposition to allowing such a tax to be subject to a simple majority vote is because the respondents thought I was asking about passing a new tax – rather than simply asking a question regarding the theory of majority rule, i.e., does requiring a 2/3rds majority from the council make sense?

I came to California in 1981 after the passage of Prop. 13, which has a provision requiring that passage of a sales tax measure in which the funds collected will go into the General Fund needs only a 50 percent +1 majority. If the tax is to be dedicated to a specific project, like roads, you need a 2/3rds majority. This makes no sense to me. If anything, I would think it should logically be the other way around.

I am a strong believer in rule by simple majority, regardless of the intent of the tax measure. The joys of the tax codes.

There are a lot more results but not a lot of room here, so if you want the results to the rest of the survey, write to me at EdiBirsan@gmail.com.