Roundtable: Mayor Faulconer’s Future; Homelessness Plan; SDG&E Faces Energy Alternatives
Friday, July 7, 2017
Photo by Susan Murphy
Faulconer's Present, Future; Homelessness; SDG&E & Community Choice
Michael Smolens, government & politics editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune
Susan Murphy, multi-media reporter, KPBS News
Ry Rivard, writer on water & land use, Voice of San Diego
FAULCONER'S PRESENT AND FUTURE
Kevin Faulconer, San Diego’s Republican mayor, is not running for governor.
But state Republican leaders would really, really love it if he did, however, and rumors about his intentions continually resurface.
Faulconer has been San Diego’s elected leader since 2014. He appointed Shelley Zimmerman to be the city's first female police chief. He increased hours at the city's parks, recreation centers and libraries and has worked to strengthen cross-border relations.
But there are questions about whether he can achieve the big goals he has laid out for the city.
In December 2015, Faulconer announced a forward-looking climate plan to applause, but there are concerns about whether the plan's goals are too ambitious, or not ambitious enough.
–The mayor has two-and-a-half years left in office. Will his achievements catch up to his ambitions?
-What stands in his way — and why?
HOMELESSNESS STILL A GROWING PROBLEM
This week, Mayor Faulconer, along with San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts and other officials, announced a new three-year initiative to get at least 3,000 people who are homeless off the streets and into permanent supportive housing.
The initiative is funded with $80 million from a variety of sources.
The number of people sleeping unsheltered on the streets has risen 18 percent in the city and 40 percent in San Diego County over the last three years.
Some political and business leaders have said the mayor does not seem to have a plan that will effectively deal with the problem. But navigating the politics of homelessness to actually solve this growing problem and prevent its recurrence is not easy.
For openers, there are disagreements over temporary versus permanent shelters and where they would be located. The virtual absence of affordable housing and how to remedy that is a contentious issue.
While San Diego's leaders and business owners worry over how to deal with the city's homeless problem — one of the worst in the nation — caseworkers are actually doing the job, going "tent to tent" trying to get people off the streets.
-Is $80 million anywhere close to enough?
-Where could new permanent housing be located?
-Where does the program to house 1,000 homeless vets stand?
SDG&E COULD FACE COMPETITION
SDG&E, the region’s power monopoly, is facing more disruption from local governments looking for competition.
The city of San Diego, as well as the North County cities of Del Mar, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Solana Beach and Encinitas, are either considering buying power elsewhere or are in the process of contracting to do so.
What these cities want to accomplish is called community choice aggregation, and SDG&E does not like it.
SDG&E’s infrastructure would still be used to deliver the outside power to San Diego County homes and businesses.
So far, SDG&E’s skilled lobbyists, mail campaigns and funded citizen groups have defeated similar attempts, notably in Chula Vista and San Marcos.
Energy prices in California are among the highest in the country, and SDG&E’s are among the highest in the state.
Community choice in energy is a big part of the city’s climate action plan.
-Did other cities fail at community choice because they did not get their message out and SDG&E did?
-Are there other reasons besides costs that some communities want their energy from other sources?
-Could SDG&E pre-empt community choice by lowering its rates?
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