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How San Diego City Council Members Want To Spend Money

Aired 2/8/16 on KPBS News.

The San Diego City Council on Monday is due to discuss their spending priorities for the coming fiscal year. Here's a list of things to know about what they want from the mayor's future budget for fiscal 2017.

San Diego City Council members are set to talk on Monday about their individual spending priorities — 2½ months before the mayor releases his budget for fiscal 2017. The city's independent budget analyst is presenting a report compiling each of the council member's priorities.

Here are five things the report reveals:

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City Council Budget Priorities

City Council Budget Priorities

San Diego's Independent Budget Analyst compiled a report of the city council's spending priorities for fiscal year 2017.

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• Public safety

All nine council members agree the city should spend more money on public safety, but they differed slightly on what specific programs should take highest priority. Seven mentioned creating civilian positions in the Police Department to support sworn officers.

• Infrastructure

The full council also spoke with unanimity in calls for infrastructure spending — specifically improvements to city parks and programs to improve pedestrian and biking safety. Councilman Mark Kersey's Rebuild San Diego infrastructure plan is due for further discussion at a City Council meeting later this month.

• Party lines

The partisan split on the council is not always visible, but there were three areas which were mentioned only by the five Democrats (Sherri Lightner, Todd Gloria, Myrtle Cole, David Alvarez and Marti Emerald). They all called for spending to carry out the Climate Action Plan, alleviate the city's homelessness problem and enforce the city's codes.

Photo by Claire Trageser

Environmental leader Nicole Capretz speaks at a rally in advance of the San Diego City Council's Climate Action Plan vote, Dec. 15, 2015.

• Three's company

Cole, Alvarez and Emerald all signed a joint memo, calling their districts the "historically underserved neighborhoods south of I-8." The independent budget analyst's report ranked each spending priority by how much support it had on the council, so the three banding together gave their priorities more weight.

• What's missing?

No council member mentioned the mayor's two most controversial spending projects: building a stadium for the Chargers and expanding the San Diego Convention Center. Both issues are likely to go before voters in November.

Other interesting tidbits from the budget priorities memos:

• Council President Lightner (District 1) asked for continued funding for the spray that neutralizes the stink of seal poop at La Jolla Cove. She also asked for additional city staff to help keep up with Public Records Act requests, and a new electronic filing system for the requests.

• Councilwoman Lori Zapf (District 2) asked the city to continue street vacuuming in Mission Beach, where residents have long complained of summer fly infestations.

• Councilman Todd Gloria (District 3) asked for a fund to help lower-income San Diegans pay their water bills, especially after the city increased water rates in November. He suggested a public-private partnership that could include the city letting companies distribute a "water bill insert" in exchange for contributing to the fund.

• In their joint memo, Cole (District 4), Alvarez (District 8) and Emerald (District 9) called for a study on the feasibility of a fiber optic network that would provide San Diego with high-speed internet. Google is already weighing creating such a network in the city.

• Councilman Chris Cate (District 6) gave the longest and most detailed list of locations he said need new stoplights, crosswalk lights, street lights, street repaving and "V-calm signs" — those pesky signs that make you realize you're driving 40 mph in a school zone.

• Many of the council members' spending priorities don't mention exactly how much the items and programs would cost. But of those with a dollar figure, the largest request was from Councilman Scott Sherman (District 7). He asked for $20.6 million to rebuild the San Carlos Library, which he said has been in the planning stages for almost 20 years.

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