Some of San Diego’s Lines in the Sand Are Getting Washed Away by 2018’s Blue Wave

by on February 8, 2019 · 1 comment

in San Diego

By Doug Porter / Words & Deeds / Feb. 8, 2019

Recent developments at both the county and city level in San Diego reveal the impact of victories by Democratic candidates in the 2018 general election.

Supervisor Diane Jacob’s State of the County speech shows the door is now open for a host of new and improved policies, a promising shift in attitude from the not so recent past.

While Jacob is a Republican, the election of Democrat Nathan Fletcher to the Board has already changed the political dynamic.

From the Union-Tribune coverage:

Standing before a full gallery that included leaders from cities, Jacob said the San Diego County Board of Supervisors has entered a new era. Referring to recently elected Supervisors Jim Desmond and Nathan Fletcher, “we’ve got fresh voices, fresh perspectives,” said Jacob, who serves as board chairwoman. “The new faces outnumber the old.”

While she may be one of the board’s oldest members, Jacob said she’s “not even close to slowing down.” She said now is “no time to play small ball,” as the county needs affordable housing while protecting residents from the biggest natural threat — wildfire. With more than 60,000 homes at risk in the county, “we must find some balance in this battle,” Jacob said.

County participation in a community choice energy plan, a notion flat-out rejected in the past, is now on the agenda, with Jacob and Fletcher proposing a move toward energy independence from San Diego Gas & Electric. Encinitas, La Mesa, Santee, Chula Vista, Oceanside, Del Mar, Carlsbad and the City of San Diego are all working on such plans.  Solana Beach became the first city in the county to successfully launch a CCE program late last year.

The Supervisors are expected to move to double the county’s $25 million affordable housing trust fund, which Jacobs claimed could lead to the creation of 1,000 homes countywide. Other proposals, including improved mental health services, and a $1 million voucher program to help with caregiver expenses for families struggling to care for relatives with Alzheimer’s disease and other memory loss-related conditions.

While Republicans still hold a 4-1 majority of the Board, Democrats are looking at flipping the balance as soon as 2020. Change, however incremental, is starting to take place with the most powerful and traditionally conservative unit of government in the region.

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Newly elected and re-energized members of the San Diego City Council are making moves. also.

Public Safety and Livable Neighborhood Committee, now chaired by District 4 Councilwoman Monica Montgomery, has unveiled a six-page work plan, tackling long standing issues disproportionately impacting the city’s most vulnerable and underserved communities.

Police accountability and a possible restructuring of the community board that reviews officer misconduct allegations are among their top goals for 2019.

From the Union-Tribune:

Some of those priorities were identified in the work plan as decriminalizing homelessness, reinvigorating community-oriented policing and reforming traffic stop policies. A racial-profiling study by San Diego State University researchers concluded in 2016 that San Diego police are more likely to search and question blacks and Hispanics after pulling them over.

Montgomery and other committee members stressed that continuing to recruit racially diverse police officers and retaining current officers will be an important factor in achieving their goals.

“We all want good relationships between law enforcement and our underserved communities and all of San Diego,” Montgomery said. “This is a high priority for the committee.”

The Council’s Land Use and Housing Committee has approved a plan to reform parking requirements in Transit Priority Area developments.

From the Times of San Diego:

…According to the San Diego Association of Governments’ 2050 Regional Plan, such areas sit within a half-mile of one or more planned or existing transit stops. However, developers could call an area with a transit stop planned for 2045 a “transit priority area” since the regional plan is designed to remain in use through 2050.

The proposal also includes a mandate for housing developers to include resources in transit priority areas like secure bike storage and repair stations, transit passes and storage facilities for delivered packages and other items.

City officials cited cities with similar lax parking requirements like Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, as evidence the proposal will make progress in fighting San Diego’s housing availability and affordability issues.

Car-centric forces in San Diego have already started to mobilize against the proposal, with angry letters to the editor at the UT.

One newly elected City Council member is swimming against the tide on this issue. Dr  Jennifer Campbell was the only committee member to vote against the proposal, saying it should be implemented only after the city improves public transit options.

Those improvements won’t come if they aren’t pushed.

And if we wait for things to proceed the way they have in the past, a good portion of Campbell’s Second District might be under water by then.

I say it’s about time. We as a city can chew gum and walk at the same time.

The biggest local political battles in the coming election cycle will be about infill development. While I’ll be the first to acknowledge that San Diego’s landed gentry will be eager to find ways to exploit increasing density in ways putting the burden of their obligations to the community at large on the backs of taxpayers, the need for increasing density is real.

I hope our elected officials do not make the mistake of not watching the ball on this issue.

Speaking of elected officials, one way we can start with this process is by transferring oversight obligations away from semi-private entities like Civic San Diego.

Later this spring the City Council will be asked to approve a settlement coming out of a lawsuit  by labor-affiliated former board member Murtaza Baxamusa that sought to weaken, kill or at least reform the agency.

From the Voice of San Diego:

The city’s got three new Democratic City Council members who may have new demands or concerns about Civic San Diego, which has been engulfed in chaos following whistle-blower allegations of poor oversight, conflicts of interest and lacking internal controls.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer, business interests and developers have for years fought to preserve Civic, which they say fast-tracks projects and reduces development costs downtown. Meanwhile, labor interests aligned with Baxamusa who have bolstered influence at City Hall have pushed for far more City Council oversight, labor agreements and even the potential dissolution of the agency.

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Finally, I could go on for days about all the latest developments in the House of Representatives. It’s really encouraging. And The Donald is flipping out.

Sadly, one of its best died this week. Rest in peace, former Congressman John Dingell (1926-2019). While he will be remembered as the longest serving member of the House, let us not forget his mastery of Twitter.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Avatar Bob Edwards February 9, 2019 at 8:38 am

So glad to see an article by you Doug Porter! As always, it was well-written and right on. I’ve been missing your writing and the San Diego Free Press blog very much.

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