So what did San Diego do?
NOTHING. San Diego has the smallest per capita fire department for any city of its size in the country. Nevertheless, San Diego residents voted TWICE in the past four years AGAINST a tax increase that would've been devoted entirely to expansion of the fire department.
Meanwhile, San Diego continues to issue building permits for houses and other structures in areas of high fire risk. Like the dimwitted Californians frequently seen on Jay Leno's "Jaywalking" segment (where Jay asks people on the street simple questions about which they have nary a clue), San Diegans seem to have been lobotomized when it comes to fire danger.
Take this quote, in today's WaPo, from a fellow who watched two of his neighbors' homes burn up: "You don't anticipate having winds blowing 90 miles an hour, blowing fire in front of you. You don't anticipate a drought."
That's like someone in New Orleans, or the Mississippi gulf coast, saying, "you don't anticipate a major hurricane; you don't anticipate torrential rains, howling winds and storm surges." Or a Republican legislator from Virginia, missing a meeting because of traffic, saying, "you don't anticipate a massive traffic jam on roads that haven't been improved in 20 years."
Gee, wildfires only happen EVERY YEAR in California, so who would've thunk it? (Guess that fellow was out of town in 2003.)
We saw a couple on CNN earlier today, lamenting that their home was burned down and they don't have any insurance. Duh!
So who will be asked to bailout these Jaywalkers? You and us, of course. The federal taxpayer.
We say: forget it. Let San Diego foot the tab. Maybe next time they'll decide to fund--with their tax dollars, not yours--a proper fire department, and plan for all those "unanticipated" events.
UPDATE: We changed our headline and a bit of tone in response to our commenters.