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San Diegans Favor Parks, Libraries In Upcoming Budget

GUESTS:

Tarryn Mento, metro reporter, KPBS News

Kyra Greene, researcher and policy analyst, Center on Policy Initiatives

Transcript

For nearly 2½ hours Monday night, community members shared their thoughts on San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer's proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Dozens of San Diegans called on the City Council to increase funding for parks and recreation, public safety and the arts in Mayor Kevin Faulconer's proposed $3.2 billion spending plan.

For nearly 2½ hours Monday evening, community members shared their thoughts on Faulconer's budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The council members will review the public’s comments and provide suggestions for the mayor to consider in his May budget revision.

Special Feature San Diego's Next Budget

Everything you need to follow the news and understand what's in the city of San Diego's fiscal 2016 budget.

Here area a few of the items promoted by community members:

Cesar Solis Park in San Ysidro: An overwhelming number of San Diegans spoke in support of constructing the facility in Ocean View Hills. Councilman David Alvarez, who represents the area, said in a joint budget priority memo that the project was lacking $5.5 million. At Monday's meeting, Faulconer's policy adviser Katherine Johnston said the mayor's office has identified funding for the facility and the item could appear before the council next month.

• Replacing a lifeguard station in Ocean Beach: The mayor's budget shows the project needs more than $4.5 million in funding and lists it as a medium priority. The replacement structure would include an observation tower, first aid area, restrooms and garage for rescue vehicles.

• San Ysidro Branch Library: The $12 million project would expand the community's current library, which was first constructed in 1924. The mayor's budget shows it is lacking nearly 50 percent of the funds needed to complete it and lists the project as a low priority.

• Increased maintenance at Teralta Park: A community member said graffiti and litter at the City Heights park requires more resources than currently allotted. In the mayor's budget, the park is listed as one of 21 sites to receive upgrades to its playground equipment.

• Film commission: Nearly half a dozen speakers called for restoring San Diego's film commission, which was dismantled in 2013. In Faulconer's proposal, the Special Events department includes more than $260,000 for a program manager and non-personnel expenses to support the film commission.

Additionally, members of the public and the council expressed support for increasing the library materials acquisition fund, hiring more community relations officers, making the city's streets safer for walking and biking, and creating a long-term infrastructure plan to address the city's $2 billion backlog in needed improvements.

Alvarez said the mayor's budget revision due later this month could project even more revenue growth for the city beyond what is already included in Faulconer's original proposal.

Before Monday night's meeting, Alvarez organized a small rally that drew about 20 people to voice where he wants to see those extra funds invested.

Alvarez said the mayor's budget is a good start, but more can be done with additional dollars.

“This is really a call to make sure the mayor prioritizes those community issues that matter to people," Alvarez said outside the City Administration Building. "Whether it's their parks or library system or investing more in our arts, which is something that we really haven’t met our commitment to that, and so we want to make sure that that happens in the May revision of the mayor’s budget.”

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