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Budget Meeting in Pico District:

The Pico Neighborhood was the focus of last week’s Budget Planning Community Input meeting.

Since early November, meetings have been held in different neighborhoods to receive input from residents on how they would like to see money spent during Fiscal Year 2008-09.

The December 19 meeting, held at Virginia Avenue Park, began like all the others, with a presentation by City Manger Lamont Ewell on the City’s economic outlook. (Go to smmirror.com/MainPages/DisplayArchiveArticle.asp?eid=6808 for Ewell’s comments at the Sunset Park meeting, which were the same at the Pico meeting.)

Residents then commented on Citywide priorities as well as those specific to the Pico neighborhood. One suggestion was keeping Pico Boulevard a two-way street. Another was creating a Youth Commission, to give the City’s youngsters a way to give input directly to the City Council. Other suggestions included having the City cut back on its spending on outside consultants, and prioritizing City decisions based upon residents’ needs rather than the needs of tourists.

Suggestions were also made regarding the City’s urban forest, including having the City categorize the benefits into its capital budget as a way to improve its bond rating, and opening up a tree farm to grow replacement trees for the forest.

Ideas specific to the Pico neighborhood included opening a local library, bringing back community-based policing, helping small neighborhood businesses remain open, improving street lighting, expanding the car exhaust prevention wall along the 10 freeway, having more programs to address homelessness, and subsidizing soccer teams for low-income Pico kids. Several residents requested that the City not concentrate as many affordable housing projects in their neighborhood because of the negative impacts such projects can have on the neighborhood’s density, traffic, and overall quality of life.

Other suggestions on community priorities will come from the City’s Boards and Commissions, a resident satisfaction survey, and the February 12 City Council discussion of priorities. The Council will then hold a series of budget workshops in May and adopt the final budget on June 10, 2008.

The final neighborhood meeting will be held on Monday, January 7, at 7 p.m. at the Montana Avenue Branch Library, located at 1704 Montana Avenue. Those who are unable to attend can email suggestions to [email protected] or go to smgov.net, and click on the City Budget Suggestions link.

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