‘Call in the Flak Catchers’

by on March 6, 2023 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

CBS8 Newscasters report on protest.

San Diegans Protest SB 10 at Planning Dept “Meeting”

By Neighbors for a Better San Diego / March 5, 2023

As a result of our media turnout effort and supporters who were able to show up on short notice, we had excellent coverage by both CBS 8 and ABC 10. It’s rare that we get to frame the news, instead of the carefully crafted magical thinking that the City presents to the media.

As for inside the room:

The gist of Tom Wolfe’s book “Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers” is that city governments use consultants as human shields when they want to promote something that they know will be incredibly unpopular.

Last Thursday (March 2) the Planning Department used this ruse to introduce its SB 10 implementation. Rather than present concrete proposals for SB 10 implementation and answer direct questions from the public, the Planning Department treated the meeting as if it was some sort of community brainstorming session to come up with new housing ideas.

If this was the case, then there would be follow-up public meetings to summarize and refine community ideas into public policy, such as how community plan updates (are supposed to) work. However, the city already has the Planning Commission scheduled to hear the Housing Action Package in the “Spring”, which means that they’ve already substantially written the code and don’t want to subject it to public scrutiny in anything but a tightly controlled forum.

This process reflects the character of the Mayor, who we invited to Thursday’s meeting to talk to his constituents who weren’t allowed into the meeting because it was supposedly full, even though there were dozens of empty seats in the room. Not surprisingly, Mayor Gloria declined, but we will continue to push to meet with him so he can explain why he is ramming through more housing policies when his Planning Department hasn’t figured out how to make the existing policies work.

Participants didn’t come out of the meeting with any idea what specific policies are being included in San Diego’s SB 10 implementation. We will address those when the time comes. The biggest issue now is that the public has been denied the opportunity to debate those proposals in a public workshop.

As we saw with the creation of Sustainable Development Areas, San Diego’s rushed and haphazard approach to changing San Diego’s land use policies will have long-ranging consequences for home ownership, climate change, housing affordability, and livability, yet the Planning Department hasn’t provided any detailed analysis or justification of these policies. As we suspected, the Housing Action Package is going to be using the SDA to impose more developer-friendly and counterproductive housing policies that especially impact single-family neighborhoods. In response, we need to focus attention on the Mayor as the person directing these policies. Stay tuned.

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