SAN DIEGO COUNTY AND THE GULF WAR : Oceanside Considered for Pentagon Study
Oceanside won’t find solace from the federal government for its financial misfortunes because of the deployment of Camp Pendleton Marines, city officials and business representatives learned Wednesday.
Instead, the Department of Defense is considering a study of Oceanside and five other military areas around the country to determine the effect that the deployment of military personnel to the Persian Gulf has had on the economics, social services and housing markets of the communities.
“When you get a federal official from the (Department of Defense) visiting you, you wonder if he’s going to offer you money,” said Mayor Larry Bagley. “The answer is no.”
But Bagley said the survey, if done soon, could help determine the exact needs of the financially strapped city. As it is, there is only anecdotal evidence of a shrinking Oceanside economy and a diminishing number of military households.
“Just getting this information will be invaluable to us because we don’t know,” Bagley said. “We don’t have any kind of a handle on it.”
Recently hired City Manager John Mamaux said, “We’ve listened and we know that a lot of (military) dependents have left the area and that spending has diminished, but we don’t know how much.”
Richard Kinnier, a director of the office of economic adjustment in the Department of Defense, stressed that in his meetings Wednesday with city officials and business representatives he did not offer any assistance, other than the possibility of a study.
Kinnier said he visited only to determine the willingness of the city and the Marine Corps to participate in the study.
The city is being asked to provide demographic and financial data, which it already has, Bagley said.
Kinnier said similar assessments, conducted by the Virginia-based Logistics Management Institute, have begun at communities surrounding Ft. Hood in Texas, Ft. Campbell in Kentucky, Ft. Stewart in Georgia, Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and Twentynine Palms.
“Obviously the deployment has caused some problems in some areas, and we would like to measure its effect,” Kinnier said.
Kinnier said he doesn’t know how long a study will take, but he expects a brief report to be available within 60 days.
Kinnier, whose office was created in 1961 to determine how closing military bases affects communities, said these would be the first studies done on the effect deployments have on communities.
Stebbins Dean, chief administrative officer for the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce, said he was encouraged by Kinnier’s visit, even though no assistance was forthcoming.
“What we’re really trying to do is find out ultimately how economically dependent the city of Oceanside is on the Marine Corps base,” said Dean, adding that the survey may better prepare the city for deployments.
Bagley said the information could be used to justify to the state that the area needs assistance.
“Once we have the information, we can go to the state with it and ask for their help,” Bagley said.
Dean concurred and said he prefers to leave the federal government out of it completely.
“In my opinion, it’s not really the responsibility of the federal government to come into a community and save them,” Dean said. “I think it’s our responsibility, but in this case we don’t have the financial resources to conduct the necessary research.”
Oceanside, in fact, doesn’t have financial resources to do a lot of things. The city faces a $5.8-million shortfall in its $227-million budget for fiscal year 1990-91. The city began a hiring freeze last November, and city departments were ordered to cut spending by 12%.