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San Diego Interim Mayor Todd Gloria Talks City Business

September 23, 2013 1:45 p.m.


Todd Gloria, San Diego Interim Mayor

Related Story: San Diego Interim Mayor Todd Gloria Gives An Update On City Business


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: San Diego interim Mayor Todd Gloria is here. Will be talking about issues from fire stations to food trucks. But first some reaction to the interview we broadcast earlier in the show about the behind-the-scenes decisions made by Donna Frye, Marco Gonzalez and Corey Briggs to go public with the accusations of sexual harassment that eventually brought down Mayor Bob Filner. Welcome to the show, Todd Gloria.

TODD GLORIA: Thanks, Maureen.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It was one month ago today that Mayor Filner resigned. I know you want the city to move on from the Filner scandal, but what is your take on the interview we just heard?

TODD GLORIA: I thought it was really powerful and I think we owe Corey and Marco and Donna gratitude for coming forward and doing a very difficult thing. I thought Donna raised in her comments an interesting point that as a person fulfilling the duties of Mayor I need to follow-up on in terms of how do you report this kind of behavior in a form of government where the individual being accused controls everything. I think that is a salient point that needs some examination. I will work on that.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Also in retrospect do you think there's anything the city Council members could've done to alert the public that there was a major problem brewing at City Hall?

TODD GLORIA: I think (inaudible) appointments with the Port commission appointment for the tourism marketing distributor not always right in the world. These allegations they help to amplify obviously the significant failings of the Filner administration but I think many of us are speaking out about this and again, thankfully came to a resolution fairly quickly.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now last week we heard that Mayor Filner has substantially raised the salaries of some of the members of his staff before he left. We also heard that you lowered them. Why was that?

TODD GLORIA: Well you know, we have undertaken a reorganization of the Mayor's office and some of the individuals who worked for Bob Filner, many of them that were, are still working with me but through the organization, the organization we changed entities and jobs and I think we now have a staff that is in place the table to do the duties of the Mayor's office and folks are paid amounts I think that are defensible and appropriate for what they are doing.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Do you think the salaries were just boosted up as sort of one of the final acts of Mayor Filner to either thank his staff, or to undermine perhaps the city Council?

TODD GLORIA: I don't have enough information to know what the motivation was. I just know that some of them were higher than what I'm uncomfortable with particularly given the duties as of today so I just took action. Again I think the most important piece of this is that we have a team in place now hoping to the constituent outreach, who can provide information to the public and carry out the policy responsibilities of the Mayor's office. I don't think that was true prior to the resignation. But now we do have that and it's helping us to move the city forward.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You got very vocal about reversing some of Mayor Filner's policies regarding his suspension of medical marijuana zoning enforcement, his disregard of regulations involving food trucks and paid parking zones. Why are you reversing what some might argue are rather popular policies?

TODD GLORIA: Well, I have no quarrel with the outcome, you know. I support our thriving food truck industry ablated compassionate use for medical marijuana but the way Bob Filner chose to do it was to ignore the law. And that's not the right way to do this. We are city of laws and we must follow the laws that are on the books and if we don't like them, we should repeal them. So in both of those instances I will be offering ordinances for the city Council's consideration to allow for the permitting of medical marijuana dispensaries of the city and to provide for the operation of projects on private property. They are currently allowed on public property. That is the right way to do it, certainly a longer way to go about it, but it's one that is the right way and allows public input and for whatever reason Bob Filner didn't see that was the right way to do it but again we are city of laws and we must follow the law.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me follow up on those topics on medical marijuana and food trucks within the city of San Diego. Where we in the developing ordnance and the consensus on zoning policy for medical marijuana?

TODD GLORIA: Honestly we have a long history and Californians went to the polls many years ago to allow this in the state of California. And the thing was done prior to my election in 2000 when cutting Council member Marti Emerald I put forward a series of ordinances that were brought before the Council in 2011. Those were repealed by the dispensaries, who felt they were too restrictive. The provided for between 20 and 30 in the city. Bob Filner offered his own this past April did not have quite the public review that ours did and it was unanimously turned down by the city council as being too lax. It's my expectation that an ordinance that the Council provided more or less this spring will be brought back to the Council for consideration of through public vetting by about January.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What's the problem with where the food trucks are parking and how will you change it?

TODD GLORIA: Well there are currently the laws on the books do not allow for them on private property so those pay parking lots owned by Ace are where we have many of them or had many of them. They are allowed in the public right-of-way. You can park in the side of the street there for a short amount of time as long as you have customers waiting in line you can have them there but not on private property. What we need to do is change the code to allow for that, provide rules of the road. There really are not any currently and we're going to go through that process and the same is true for (inaudible) that we saw an instance of in the Jack-in-the-Box in North Park. There are all these rules that currently exist that my estimation. The (inaudible), but the best way to handle that is to change the law, not simply to ignore it, as Bob Filner chose to do.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: When it comes to these rules and regulations are there any other ways that you found that the former mayor did not follow the regulations just basically ignored them as you've been saying instead of working to change them?

TODD GLORIA: Basically changes I've been aware of something else that needs fixing we are trying to make up for lost time. We lost about nine months and not a heck of a lot got done. I will be in this role probably until next March or thereabouts and so I want to take that time not to just sit and hang out and put the city in neutral, but really to move us forward aggressively. So we're going to do that on a number of fronts and these reforms to our code are some good initiatives that we should undertake during this time.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: One of the major revelations you've been public about is that Mayor Filner underestimated the amount of money it will take to keep the year-round homeless shelter open past and next April, I believe it is. Have you first of all, have you toured the facilities now, or is that still on your agenda?

TODD GLORIA: I visited the veteran's tents down at the sports Arena area this Friday afternoon and met with the residents and operators. Still scheduled to get down to the one that's in Barrio Logan.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And do you think the Council will be able to find the money to people who shelters open?

TODD GLORIA: I don't know what we have right now situation where we are about $1 million short to actually fund these things year-round. They're valuable. They should be open for longer periods of time. But I don't necessarily have the money to do that and I think that's the context of a couple things again that are sort of squarely on the doorstep of the previous administration where we are now looking at about a $12 million cost for special election that is now necessary. Our pension costs are up by about 25 million this year because of the lack of a key vote by mayoral staffer at the pension board. The list goes on and on of additional costs that are being borne by taxpayers because of the incompetence of the previous administration. So with those additional costs and now this hole in the budget for the tents, I'm not sure if we know how to get there from here but I'm willing to give it a try and see what we can do. Obviously the homelessness issue is something that's been very important to me my entire time in office. It continues to be. But unlike my predecessor I'm not willing to overpromise and underdeliver.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Did you say 12 million dollars cost to the city for the cost of the special election?

TODD GLORIA: That is presuming there's a run off, our best estimate is a primary if there is a runoff will be the same amount.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Councilmember Cole wants a temporary fire station put in the skyline neighborhood which has one of the worst response times of the city. The skyline neighborhood has. Are you supporting that?

TODD GLORIA: I think it's an intriguing idea from a new councilmember who's looking to looking to represent her district well. I applaud her for doing this. It is something we are aware of it looks something that to something like a tent situation at a way for those additional expenses that are down there naturally public safety is our top priority so we should look at that. I want to speak closely with the chair of the public safety committee and Fire Chief to find out if that is the best way to go but we are well aware that there are some shortcomings and that and other parts of the city Marti Emerald has done a great job of trying to lead on this issue we have to find the resources to make them reality.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That leads me to the issue of whether or not the city will retain Rural Metro is the city's ambulance provider. The city fire department thinks it could do a better job of providing that service. So when is the Council actually going to be looking at that? You're going to be putting up bids?

TODD GLORIA: We do have, we have a contract with the current ambulance provider Rural Metro and there has been some suggestion from our firefighters union that they believe they can do this better. You know, I'm interested in hearing that. We do have a legal opinion that says that's a very risky approach that we may not want to proceed and again I'm up against this deadline of the ending contract that I need to make sure that we do have a provider, whoever it may be. So we are working closely with the city attorney to find a pathway for that. Ultimately what we needed was improve upon the service levels that currently exist. The issues that you're just raising that Councilmember Cole is raising. But again, kind of have this issue again with the times is this an extension of the contract making sure that services are provided not just in one area but throughout the city.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to let everyone I'm speaking with San Diego interim Mayor Todd Gloria. Let me take you to another topic, the Barrio Logan plan approved by the city Council last week you voted for it. I believe the maritime industry remains against it. What happens is maritime businesses start to leave because of this new plan and what they call the onerous amount of money that is going to take for them to apply for business within a particular zone?

TODD GLORIA: First of all your listeners need to know there is a bit of a mess down there we have industrial uses next to homes and what the Council is trying to do is untangle the mess and really push the industrial services to the west and to the south and residential uses to the east and north. So they are segregated so we don't have the conflicts any longer. The plan that we adopted does that. 95% of the plan is supported. We are really talking that 5 to 7 blocks in the center of it and I don't believe what you will see is an exodus of these providers because naturally they need to be close to our military. They need to be close to the shipyards. They have to be near water, right? So it's not like they can go many other places. We're going to work aggressively with these folks to make sure they are taken care of it in the southern area which is exclusively industrial where it's currently it is not someplace they can go there are other places we can put that we are a proud military town. I'm going to Washington DC next week to advocate the military about why San Diego is so key to our Department of Defense. So I think the fundamentals of our relationship are so strong even if we have a small disagreement over these few blocks in the neighborhood.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That was a big fight, I guess you could say over the community plan in Barrio Logan. Will the city Council be considering more plan updates in the near future?

TODD GLORIA: Yes and we have to update our community plans almost in every neighborhood. Many of them are older than I am and as a result we have for a lot of conflicts like you saw in Barrio Logan between different interests who don't have the rules of the road at this time. We currently have plan updates going on is the San Diego, in the uptown community, in North Park and other places the new planning director has made this a priority as he should and what that will allow us to do is to focus development where it needs to go. That we upgrade our facility financing plan so we can pay for the infrastructure that's needed these neighborhoods and it will help us preserve some of our open spaces and other parts of the community that really should be preserved. These are really critical for the city's ongoing success and the Council has been funding these updates for the last number of years because we understand that barrio Logan is first and it's now done and we need to go together to present updating the plans.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That brings up the idea somebody trying to go online and trying to find out what the plans are. I'm sure there's a place they can go to but the city is also considering the open data policy the city ways and means committee is looking into the details. What is the new policy the are considering?

TODD GLORIA: It's 2013 and we need to start looking ahead and councilmenber pro tem Sherry Leitner and Mark (Kersey) are looking at this and try to get the data we haven't provided to the public. We should provide the data we have the public opened it is emblematic of that what we have our infrastructure issues with the IT the previous Mayor Jerry Sanders invested a lot to try to bring us out of the Stone Age when it comes to IT. We still have a ways to go. But we look at investing for the internal infrastructure for IT we need to do with the might trying to provide as much information to the public as possible and of course these have some natural interesting commercial applications around apps and the things like that that we want to be a part of so it's an ongoing conversation and during my time in the Mayor's office. It's my hope we can work aggressively to put the city on a path to do that. Other cities are doing it and we should too.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What kind of information is the goal for you to get up there some people can have access to it?

TODD GLORIA: As the chair of the budget community I'd like to make sure people know what they're getting for their money. Another community significantly for specifically what it cost to pave the road or even a small portion of a road or projects that are in the community. Everyone sees the signs. Something that says new library coming here, but what exactly, how much, where is the funding, when's it going to happen. There's all kinds of things we can provide what I think we should do is start with what are the most common public records act requests that we get and put that information out without being asked. People shouldn't have to ask for what is commonly needed information. I think some of the developers that are out there, web developers have some have progressive ideas in mind and I'm interested in hearing them.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Two city Council members David (Kersey) and Kevin Falconer are running for mayor in the special election. You said you didn't want to rent because you didn't want to distract from the city's business. I'm wondering how distracting it's going to be with two sitting city Council members running against each other in this mayoral race.

TODD GLORIA: Not very because Maureen we just lived through the biggest destruction of rent that was Bob Filner. My personal decision not to run really came from a sense that the city needed to heal. We need to make up for lost time and they needed a Mayor that was a full-time mayor to focus solely on moving the city forward. So I set aside any sort of personal ambition to make sure I can do a good job for the next 5 to 6 months as I do this role. I have to say, regardless of what Kevin and David are doing in their spare time we as a Council are united in making sure the public's business gets done.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Are you going to be making sure there is no grandstanding going on and that kind of thing. Do you expect the kind of thing?

TODD GLORIA: As Council President I have a mic override which means I can turn off the microphone. I don't expect to see any of that. Both are gentlemen and they're great public servants and I think they'll be able to conduct themselves appropriately.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: In the last 30 seconds Todd Gloria at the end of the week as you said you'll be leading a delegation to Washington DC. What are the main goals of the visit.

TODD GLORIA: Number one is to say look at we are back in business. Leaders in Washington have been watching what's going on here and they need to know there's someone in control here and we are moving toward and I want to work aggressively with the Department of Defense to make sure you're taking care of ourselves as we look to the future of the (inaudible) and to advocate for the extension of the trolley up to UCSD and the completion of a number of border infrastructure projects to facilitate cross-border traffic. There's a lot that needs to be done. We have not been at the table because Bob Filner fired our lobbyists. I've rehired them and I want to make sure Washington knows we're here and we want to get stuff done.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I've been speaking with San Diego interim Mayor, Todd Gloria. Thank you so much.

TODD GLORIA: Thank you, Maureen.