Public-Private Partnership for Community Drone Show

Back in 1978, a radical tax revolt took place in California. 

This occurred when tax advocates Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann pushed a statewide initiative limiting increase on property taxes to 1% of its fair market value and requiring a 2/3 approval for local agencies to impose new taxes.   Proposition 13 – or, the Jarvis-Gann initiative, as it was called – was popular and passed.  The California State Constitution was amended in a profound manner, forcing local governments, faced with severe cuts to local taxes, to review and slash their budgets. 

At the time, having just turned 21, my twin brother and I were more interested in legally entering local bars at UC Davis than in paying taxes.  But today as taxpayers, we can all appreciate the legacy and sentiment of Prop 13, when taxpayers became naysayers and simply said, “No” to new taxes.

History repeated itself for Benicians in November when Measure R, which would have adopted a ¾% local sales tax for the City, failed by 294 votes. 

Titled “Benicia Local Road Repair and Infrastructure Measure,” funding would close an annual gap of $4.7 million per year needed for road maintenance and take pressure off the General Fund.  Its defeat by such a slim margin puts pressure on the City Council to make tough decisions, which is what happened at the December 20th City Council meeting.   

Aiming to “Maintain the Quality of Life” that so many expect in Benicia, the Council faced intense discussions during a Budget Study Session.  The consensus?  This will be a long process.  And following this discussion?   The Council was presented with a proposal for a drone show event!  OMG!

By now, readers may be aware of a proposal to recreate that Independence Day spectacle. 

For those in attendance at the Ace Centennial Drone show last year, it was a magnificent event, bringing together 10,000 participants at the waterfront.  That the community would want another drone show is no surprise.  This is what makes Benicia special!

But back to the meeting.   On the one hand, we have Council debating budget limitations, and on the other, a proposal to stage a massive town party.   While it may seem ironic, such tension is part of political life.  But this is a conversation worth having.  More so, this is an opportunity to drive a new approach to funding; that of Public-Private Partnerships.

This is exactly what Assistant Interim City Manager Mario Giuliani had in mind when he spoke at the December 20th meeting. 

Giuliani is hard at work soliciting event sponsors and he reported that Republic Waste Management will participate.  In addition, the Benicia Chamber of Commerce is on board for coordinating funding and taking donations.  At Ace, we are accepting donations at the register.  In addition, Ace will fund 50% of the drone show and sponsor the return of crowd favorite, East Bay Mudd Band.

A Public-Private Partnership, bringing together parties who share the vision and step up to play a part.  You can help too!  Let’s make the drone show happen!

What you can do: 

1) Let your City Councilmembers know that you support the event.  They need your input in order to commit City resources.   2) Raise funds within your family, neighborhood, organization, or group of friends and send them to the Benicia Chamber of Commerce, or drop off at Ace Hardware.   3) Mark your calendars and don’t forget to invite your family and friends.  Let’s enjoy the spectacle together!

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