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Supervisors Oppose Creation of Border Agency

TIMES STAFF WRITER

County supervisors Tuesday asked state Assembly members to drop consideration of a bill that would create a binational border authority with the power to undertake and finance projects that would bolster the quality of life along California’s border with Mexico.

The supervisors, acting on a lengthy recommendation from county staff, asked state legislators to amend several parts of the controversial bill that Assemblyman Richard Polanco (D-Los Angeles) recently introduced. Supervisors suggested that the agency would needlessly duplicate functions now handled by other government bodies.

However, Supervisors Brian Bilbray and George Bailey argued that San Diegans should use restraint in opposing the bill because it marks one of the first times that state legislators have considered the border as a problem for all of California, not just San Diego and Imperial counties.

Bilbray, who acknowledged that portions of the bill are unacceptable, argued that supervisors should let Sacramento know that the county appreciates any state action that acknowledges “border problems are state problems.”

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“I’m just concerned that every time someone starts to address the (border) issue we don’t (respond) by attacking,” Bilbray said.

“We need to recognize that the state is looking at the border,” said Bailey, who cautioned that the county should not “shut the state out” of future projects along the border.

The Polanco bill would use the power of state government to create a binational border authority to help pay for public projects, especially in debt-ridden Mexico. Polanco believes the bill is needed because regional and city governments on both sides of the border have failed to address myriad issues that are wrecking the border’s environment and economy.

Supervisors argued Tuesday that the proposed agency would needlessly duplicate what the county and other local agencies already can do to build roads, sewers, water pipes and communications systems along the border.

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Bilbray, however, suggested the county welcome state involvement, even though it might mean a “compromise” along the lines of the proposed “Big Pipe” sewer project, which calls for the use of state and federal funds that will be used to build a plant to treat sewage flowing from Tijuana to the ocean at Imperial Beach.

That proposed project is “frustrating” for residents of San Ysidro and Otay Mesa, Bilbray said, because it calls for construction of a sewage-treatment plant in the South Bay that would service Tijuana.


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