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San Diego Interim Mayor Todd Gloria Update On City Business

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November 25, 2013 1:59 p.m.


Todd Gloria, interim mayor, city of San Diego

Related Story: San Diego Interim Mayor Todd Gloria 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.

ALISON ST. JOHN: You are listening to Midday Edition on KPBS I'm Alison St. John in for Maureen Cavanaugh. Todd Gloria is holding down the fort at City Hall until new Mayor is elected. His goal is to get the city on an even keel again after the Filner scandals rocked the boat. He's been getting good reviews but what is his role teaching about the state of the city. Todd, thank you very much, Mayor Gloria thank you so much interim Mayor we should call you.

TODD GLORIA: Todd is fine.

ALISON ST. JOHN: So now there is some good news that which I think we have not heard for many years there's actually a budget surplus about $18 million surplus. Which I guess in the grand scheme of things is a small surplus but even just having a surplus is unusual it seems for the city. So what about the pension deficit that Mike Aguirre, our former city attorney is always talking about, are we really coming out of the hole here?

TODD GLORIA: We are and I appreciate you raising it because I recognize that is news to the public but it's good news that is something we should talk about. Yeah, we are having a good year, our revenues are up. We do forecast a small deficit for next year these additional revenues will help us cover that and allow us to reduce neighborhood services I think going for the five year financial outlook that I've released does show surpluses 4/5 years and I think that's great news. With regard to the former city attorney what he's referring to is the pension that. Those are dollars that were spent in that are in place now and we have to put Yugoslavia the good news that your listeners may not be aware of is the be the pension bill in full and on time for the last seven years and we will continue to settle the debt is paid off.

ALISON ST. JOHN: And that the payments increase in size but they are factored into the budget.

TODD GLORIA: They're factored into the budget and these things will adjust with time the increases we saw project for next year it doesn't have to do with the benefits that were provided it was the assumption of more conservative financial forecasts, being more fiscally prudent that is causing the bill to go up. So it is interesting for those who are inserted fiscal conservativism into the potential systems utilize that as an argument against pensions. It feels frustrating to people like myself who do believe in retirement security and defined benefit plans. But at any rate, we are making progress and people need to know that.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Okay so if we don't have a deficit as the major problem for next year if you had to whisper in your the candidate who's going to win what would you say are the biggest problems facing the city next year?

TODD GLORIA: Infrastructure. There's no question. I think all of your listeners need to ask our mayoral candidates what are you going to do about this problem. It's bigger than the pension problem that unlike the pension issue we don't have great solutions in place yet. As the Council President I set up the Council's first-ever infrastructure committee to begin looking at this is a regular basis rather than on a crisis or ad hoc basis. We are making good progress Council number markers he is the chair of the committee is making good progress but the reality of the problem is so big it so big we don't even know how big it is, in this issue like the pension issue is enormous it's going to take years to address these candidates really need to explain how they intend to tackle it as Mayor.

ALISON ST. JOHN: So we are off and running toward the special election beginning of next year the city Council has to set the date you have a date that you are aware of?

TODD GLORIA: We have a couple options sometime in the middle of February we are looking record getting the city clerk's office of the County registrar of voters to select the date that makes the most that's probably the figure 11 for February 18 maybe some other potentially, but it will be one of those two will be my guess.

ALISON ST. JOHN: The 11th or the 18th at are you going to endorse one of the candidates?

TODD GLORIA: I'm trying to stay focused on running the city try to do that in a political way I think to the extent of cleaning up the mess that was left behind that without consideration for politics was important to me that set up is like every other San Diego I have are really vested interest in the outcome of the election and the vision for the city going forward. I'm interested like your listeners probably are in where the candidates going to do about fiscal discipline, maintaining business practices that have gotten us to the position where we can see a day when surpluses and that infrastructure question, and then my issue that kind of cause me to run for office in the first place which is homelessness. I want to see the candidates articulate on that both candidates are friends of mine I work with them every day.

ALISON ST. JOHN: City Council members both.

TODD GLORIA: They're both and I would say they're both good men both capable of leading this is I'm as interested as anyone else to see how they articulate on the three key issues I just mentioned.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Are you likely to give an endorsement toward the end of the campaign?

TODD GLORIA: I haven't made up my mind on that I chose specifically to stay out of the primary and they may continue to do that in the general. I may not. It is interesting to see how the campaign turns out. But you know I think that we are in a fortunate position of knowing that whoever the next Mayor is they will be better than Bob Filner.

ALISON ST. JOHN: So let's talk about infrastructure since you were talking about that and apparently a survey suggests 25% of the city of San Diego's roads are in poor condition. In January coming up the Council is going to consider wonder $25 million bond measure to cover things like roads but you just said we really don't even know how much the infrastructure bill is the estimates are 900 million is this just a drop in the bucket?

TODD GLORIA: It's a $120 million infrastructure bond the figure was chosen for two reasons one is that it's onewhat we can afford and what we can work on there's no sense in trying bounce for projects you can't actually construct because you don't have enough people to do it. But that said we don't know the size of the problem from the standpoint that we have studied the condition of our sidewalks although that work is starting separate we have up to the conditions of our peers, some of our sports facilities and things of that nature. We have looked at our roads that's how you know that so many of them are support but we don't have done that for all of the assets until we do we can say for certainty the size of the problem but what I do know is a mentioned before it's going to be a multiyear effort in order to change the current direction.

ALISON ST. JOHN: We have a caller on line one, Greg who has a question for you. Thanks for calling go ahead

NEW SPEAKER: Good afternoon Alison. I have a question. Since the two candidates of the runoff are both members of city Council, does the acting Mayor see that affecting the activity of the Council and would be possible to bring you know, more soon the runoff date? I don't think, since the two major candidates got about 75% of the vote, I don't think many votes are going to change, could we have it sooner?

ALISON ST. JOHN: Good question Greg, thank you.

TODD GLORIA: Thanks for the question. With regard to the first part I would say that I believe that councilmembers Alvarez and Faulconer are gentlemen. They are professionals and I don't expect their behavior to change now that they are mayoral candidates. As Council President I will be there to make sure that doesn't happen. We have to much going on at the city. There's too much business there's time we are trying to make up for that was lost in the film administration so we don't really have time for that and that's part again of my reticence getting overly involved in the mayoral race. With regard your question about speeding up it's really more of a practical concern. The ability to actually execute an election some people may know the registrar of voters is relocating on December 1. They interesting we thought that December, the holiday season of enough your would be an excellent time to relocate their services. As it turned out they have a pretty significant special election. And that is actually impacting their ability to execute an election. So that is why we are sort of undetermined on the date as of yet. But, we will allow them to make their move happen, get set up and we will pick a date that will allow them to execute election and allow the voters voice to be heard.

ALISON ST. JOHN: there are a couple issues that might actually be divisive between the two candidates as Greg is referring to we will get to that in a minute, but just getting back to the infrastructure 5000 miles of sidewalks apparently and you've actually allocated $1 million to actually figure out what you need to do, it's not cheap is that, even just before you start you have to figure out what you're going to do. How long will it be before people actually see some improvements to the sidewalks question?

TODD GLORIA: Well the sidewalks is probably the most difficult challenge one because we have never studied the conditions of our sidewalks. We have with the streets and other facilities water pipes etc. but we've never done it with this before. So we are breaking ground. Additionally you may know the city's policy when it comes to replacing sidewalks is it's actually the responsibility of the adjacent property owner so it's an interesting situation for your average listener who may not like their side up once I find out it is there responsibility to replace it they suddenly think the sidewalk is pretty okay and one of the questions we will have to grapple with is the city Council wants to get the data back and it may take up to your to get all the data he needs to make a decision if we want to change the city's policy with regard to sidewalks. And actually take this on as a city obligation.

ALISON ST. JOHN: okay now let's move onto barrio Logan which has been a very divisive issue. Certainly dividing the two mayoral candidates it will be a key issue probably in that race this is sort of like a walkable thing you make a decision and up it pops again and now it's on the ballot for an initiative and tomorrow the judge will rule on a request of environmental health coalition to invalidate the signatures that were collected to put this on the ballot. So do you think the signature gatherers went too far in arguing that the condos were quick to be built on this compromise, these blocks of land in barrio Logan, the should builders are very upset. I think it's going to kill the ship building industry. Do you think the signature gatherers went overboard and collecting the signatures?

TODD GLORIA: Yes I supported Council member Alvarez and his Barrio Logan plan and I did that because it was an effective balance between the needs for growth in the community and the need to preserve maritime uses pretties allegation that this plan will somehow overtake the waterfront with condos is baloney. The reality is we are untangling a mess of land uses where you have residential uses immediately as to industrial uses. I would ask any San Diego that they want to live in a similar situation I expect the situation is not. David Alvarez did his very best to want to go those messes we were actually pushing industrial uses to the waterfront and to the south of the committee representing residential uses in the north and east part of the community. And that was an effective compromise pretty understand where the shipbuilders are coming from I certainly respect that they are an incredibly important part of our economy but to suggest that nine blocks in Barrio Logan is make or break for their industry I think is incorrect. I think the bigger tragedy should building industry sequestration back in Washington DC enough for our efforts and attention should be focused not on the ballot initiative that would cost taxpayers a significant amount of money.

ALISON ST. JOHN: So this will go back to the city Council in a matter of days understands you think this is the kind of issue that can be solved as an initiative 40 thinkperhaps the city Council could agree to dissolve the agreement was reached and start again?

TODD GLORIA: We at city Council do that in the past but I think myself and other Council members are growing weary of these special interest efforts where if you have enough money you can purchase the outcome that you want. And of course if this does go to the ballot and the voters support he repealing this all we are left with is the status quo if that is the status quo where you have industrial uses next residential uses and I hope that San Diegans would reject that I would hope that this doesn't have to go to the ballot. It will be tremendously expensive for our city

ALISON ST. JOHN: How could it avoid going to the ballot? I suppose the judge might decide tomorrow.

TODD GLORIA: The judge could weigh in. The city Council or Council member Alvarez could bring forward a different approach if you wanted to. I think he's of the opinion that he's compromised enough and he like me whether it's been with Walmart, or with marijuana dispensaries we've seen other industries come forward and use this approach and all it has done has invited more of these kinds of initiatives and frankly I think the counselors getting tired of it.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Do you think the public will be able to sort out the issues any better when they get to vote on it?

TODD GLORIA: I certainly respect the wisdom of our voters. I think the voters are quite smart people that said this involved some very difficult land-use considerations, environmental uses, zoning the kinds of stuff that are not pretty straightforward votes so I'm concerned that with enough money people can purchase the outcome they want and that would be terrible.

ALISON ST. JOHN: I want to get to water rates because I know a lot of people are upset about this and we all know that water is getting more expensive but a 15% increase over the next two years what's up with that?

TODD GLORIA: It was like everything it's unfortunate. I pay more for my newspaper my cup of coffee and water is no different except for in this case this imperils our city's finances. Without this water rate adjustment the city's finances would have been troubled. Our rating agencies would've taken a dim view on that and that would have increased the cost of our [inaudible]. All of these things are bad things. These funds are going up because the city Council is interested in increasing the cost of water, if what we are being charged, we are passing on the charges. For the last two years we've assumed those costs, we did pass those rates on the repairs because we were trying to be respectful of the economy but we cannot continue to do that any longer. It was going to create a fiscal nightmare I think for the city and that's why you saw the Council the bipartisan basis go to approve the new rate structure else and probably most important and overlooked in this discussion is that it creates a new lower tier for what reasons. I hear a lot from city consent they are conserving and yet they do not see that in the bill. This newer lower rate that means for you and I I try to be pretty aggressive in my reduction for use if you do that you will be charged a lower rate and that is a good thing I think it incentivizes conservation.

ALISON ST. JOHN: if you can really bring your water breakdown you might be able to impact your rates I know cities of actually charged by commercial interests and lest to domestic homeowners whereas I think the city is not doing that, is there some reason why homeowners are picking up quite a bit of the tab?

TODD GLORIA: I mean everybody's asked to take on a bit more. You know, in the upper tiers. They know I think that what we would like to do is get to a more sophisticated approach. We know that Orange County as one where it's really even on specific in terms of the size of the lot and the use of the law. We have people at the Council hearing arguing for knowing how many people live in the property it's one thing to have a single-family home but if you've to people living there because you have a large family that is different. We just don't have the ability to do that right now and I think we are trying to move in a direction where we can be just that sensitive. And again always with the I to incentivizing conservation.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Okay in another water rate related issue Lake Moreno off Interstate 8 and Campo apparently you are asking the county to give $1.7 million to the city or you will drain much of it for the use of city water use. I know Mayor Filner was into preserving it and people say this would have a devastating effect on wildlife in the lake. Are you basically waiting for the candidate County to come up to the money or is this inevitable?

TODD GLORIA: This part of the thankless job I have of trying to clean up City Hall the previous mayor made a commitment not to do that but he did that knowing that it was would cost the city actually $5 million. And I'm in a position now of looking at a modest deficit for next year and having just as the repairs of the city to pay more for water now to not do the draw down on Lake Marina when the city owns and we'll the water that is there means we have a family dollars of additional cost with no identified revenue while at the same time charging more people for water. You know just wasn't the right thing to do for ratepayers or taxpayers. I recognize that comes with impact to the people of East County. Think the previous Mayor made commitments that he could follow through and and like many things I'm left with I just have to clean up the mess.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Okay we have one minute left and I wanted to mention you this month got a fellowship from the [Aspens] Institute program for the nation's most promising young leaders people like Gabby Gifford and Marco Rubio have gone in the past you'll be going to seminars overseas what sort of things do you hope this will teach you?

TODD GLORIA: It will be an opportunity to sort of meet with other leaders across the community and get some best practices ideas that bring them back to San Diego. It's obviously tremendously humbling. I didn't know I was chosen they just called and said I'd like to be a part of this and it was pretty thrilling and has always just idea to try to make this a better inhabited take a couple weekends to go and spend some time on that.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Okay interim Mayor Todd Gloria, thank so much for coming in.

TODD GLORIA: Thanks, Alison.