San Diego—“America’s finest city”—was once known as a sunny beach town, distinguished by a large military presence, an enduring appeal to tourists, and a burgeoning tech sector. But, according to UC San Diego political scientists Steve Erie and Vladimir Kogan, a series of critical financial and policy missteps have transformed San Diego into “Enron by the Sea,” a municipality now plagued by intractable pension and budget deficits, poorly crafted public-private partnerships, and increasingly distrustful voters who demand services but refuse to pay for them.
Erie, a professor of political science and Vladimir Kogan, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science, will shed light on San Diego’s shortsighted public policy decisions over the last two decades, as summarized in their new book, Paradise Plundered: Fiscal Crisis and Governance Failures in San Diego, at a noontime talk, November 2, in the Seuss Room in UC San Diego’s Geisel Library. The talk, sponsored by the Social Sciences & Humanities Library, the Urban Studies & Planning Program, and the Urban Studies Program Student Club, is free and open to the public. Following the talk, Erie and Kogan will sign copies of their book.
“Given the social, economic, and political changes currently transforming American cities,” said Erie, “We believe that San Diego’s experience holds important lessons for understanding the evolution of urban governance at the start of the 21st century. Though among the least studied of major American cities, San Diego’s recent civic troubles provide valuable guidance for cities experiencing pension and budget deficits, public service and infrastructure deficiencies, and other governance challenges.”
Professor Steve Erie
Steve Erie, who has been on the faculty at UC San Diego since 1981, is an authority on urban politics, public policy, racial and ethnic politics, and American political development. He is the director of the university’s Urban Studies & Planning program and is an adjunct professor of history. Erie has authored numerous articles and award-winning books and is actively involved in public policy debates on infrastructure, economic development, governance, and public finance issues. Erie helped write San Diego’s current “strong mayor” form of government; served on the CA governor’s infrastructure commission; and advises public officials, business and community leaders in Southern California on the policy challenges facing the region.
In addition to Paradise Plundered, published this year by Stanford University Press (co-authored with Vladimir Kogan and Scott MacKenzie), Erie’s books include: Rainbow’s End: Irish-Americans and the Dilemmas of Urban Machine Politics, 1840-1985; Globalizing L.A.: Trade, Infrastructure, and Regional Development; Beyond ‘Chinatown’: The Metropolitan Water District, Growth, and the Environment in Southern California. His current book project is Mulholland’s Gift: The Politics and Policymaking of L.A.‘s Department of Water and Power.