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Former San Diego Mayor Sanders On Upcoming Mexico Trip, Linkage Fee, Balboa Park Celebration

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March 27, 2014 5:39 p.m.

Jerry Sanders Discusses Mexico City Trip, Linkage Fee, Balboa Park Centennial


Jerry Sanders, CEO, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commercee

Related Story: Former San Diego Mayor Sanders On Upcoming Mexico Trip, Linkage Fee, Balboa Park Celebration


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: This is KPBS Midday Edition, I am Maureen Cavanaugh. Our top story in midday edition, a conversation of former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders. He is headed to Mexico City in a few days along with Mayor Faulconer and other cities to suggest strengthening national trade relationships. You will tell us but he thinks the triple achieved and will also get a take on the city's recent changes from SDPD and the San Diego Opera. Welcome to the program. We frequently hear about business and civic leaders headed off to a conference somewhere on strengthening trade relationships, but is it you want to accomplish to make this Mexico City trip a success?

JERRY SANDERS: There's a lot of issues and one of the top issues is border infrastructure on both sides, Mexico is ahead of us in infrastructure and building especially in the border region. But it has to link up and we have to have the cooperation on both sides, another huge issue of across the border railroad which exists but does not run because of hurricane Kathleen in the 80s that destroyed a lot of the line there and that would really enhance cross-border trade and also would get a lot of the trucks of the freeways because you would not have to rely on truck traffic.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Would this be a freight train line or at commercial train line? Or commuter train?

JERRY SANDERS: It would be at commercial line. Tacoma Toyota matrix result Tacoma's and ring of us would have to be trucked out in the cell about 400 freight trains a day and those would be sent out through Riverside County and there are about 600 plants in Tijuana that reduce the huge variety of consumer goods and biomedical goods and having a free line would really enhance the movement of that freight. But: what about comprehensive reform, will that be on the agenda?

JERRY SANDERS: I don't think that Mexico is is concerned as we are, we support comprehensive reform from a chamber standpoint we think it is critically important that we get that looked reform, it's not just with Mexico it is with all different countries and between a lot of engineers United States and are most prestigious universities like UCSD and SDSU yet the day they are out of class their visas expire and they have to go back to their countries instead of using the knowledge base here. There are a lot of various issues with comprehensive immigration reform and we can get critically important.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What do you mean that Mexico is not interested in that?

JERRY SANDERS: There interested, that going to Mexico for the city therefore impression reform. Going down in September which we have done every year and to talk about this with congressional delegations to ask them to push reform through.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So basically preaching to the choir?

JERRY SANDERS: It is preaching to the choir but we have a lot of high-level meetings of set up and Governor Gavin Newsom is joining us in the trade mission and the mayors Kevin Faulconer and they are going down with us along with representatives and we also have several council members going down because of how important trait is to the San Diego region through Baja California.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What is one thing that you want to come back with work and is a really successful trip?

JERRY SANDERS: If it's a successful trip we are going to be signing and him Faulconer will be signing a MOU, they have a huge manufacturing industry in Queretaro and they will be signing of both business and cultural issues which makes the trip a success for even get down there and a lot of this is relationship driven in my skull and we want to introduce our delegation to Mexico officials which helps up there all over 70 million members going down a lot of those are Mexican members from behind the informed the same business relationships just by the fact that everyone goes on together.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That is a memorandum of understanding.

JERRY SANDERS: It is a bureaucratic term but yes that it.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The chamber was successful in getting San Diego city Council to rescind an increase in the linkage fee and the linkage fee is a fee paid for by commercial developers intended to go toward providing affordable housing, what is the chamber fight so hard against that increase?

JERRY SANDERS: Feature we are not fighting against affordable housing, we've have built hundreds of buildings and that was part of redevelopment and there is about 40% of the tech instrument ñ tax increment was building that and cities all over the state of rushing around trying to find out how to increase formal housing stock. I was not involved in that at the point of their was an industry committee that met with the Council for over two years and came up with about twenty different alternatives. Counsel chose just to taxes developers because that is easy to come up every knows what a developer is and what that broke down to is a lot of small businesses, it just rolls downhill so small business wanting to expand or start a business has to pay $42,000 additionally which cannot be financed, we felt there are better ways to do that through infrastructure bonding and taking transient occupancy tax. It also do it through infrastructure financing districts, there a lot of ways to do it instead of putting in of one piece of business, then expecting businesses to do that.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: San Diego was boosting those fees to the fees would be in line with those paid up in Los Angeles and Oakland and I'm wondering, since commercial destruction ñ construction is not hurting what you think would her business in San Diego?

JERRY SANDERS: First we do not know how it is working the cities but it was a 500 to 750% increase. That is a huge increase and the fee just to take effect immediately. San Diego is not competing with LA, and is not competing with Oakland for commercial instruction, ñ construction, it is competing with Carlsbad and Solana Beach and other cities in the county and that starts to hurt sales tax and you cannot do that in a microcosm like that and not expect to hurt it.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Official said that we're way behind, we were behind Jan and we were way behind in demand for affordable housing here in San Diego, they say that we need 64,000 units by the end of the decade and so, part of the reason as I understand up at the city Council decides to rescind the fee is because there's going to be a collective discussion between the chamber and other business entities about what to do in order to get those funds together and he talked about infrastructure bonds and so forth, is there a concrete plan to find money for a formal housing in San Diego?

JERRY SANDERS: Let us be frank about this, the Council rescinded it because without 53,000 signatures in twenty-two days, did not do it because they wanted to have a discussion with us, and we had Artie had the discussion. We are meeting and sells the jobs coalition which is the chamber and about fifty other organizations, they are meeting with Rick chantry from the housing commission and they have already met three times and they are trying to come up with a plan and we're cautiously optimistic that we can come up with that that that a section for the city to decide how to solve some of these issues and just to throw it off and say come back, those I hope works. There has to be a willingness on both parts to actually come together to compromise and councils going to have to make some tough decisions, did I want to go out for an infrastructure on because that is the incredibly difficult to do and they can't just pick the one thing that they think is going to be easiest, and then throw it off on another community to handle that.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Will the chamber be actively involved in coming up with a plan?

JERRY SANDERS: We are actively involved and another person from the jobs coalition and another to lead on this are meeting frequently and as I said there already been three meetings with the housing commission that will ramp up, we all see the need for affordable housing but in the past a formal housing money has not just been workforce housing is exposed to be, it went for homosexual does another things which is not part of any link which if you want to look at it that way.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That we move on to the Balboa Park celebration nonprofit, it was created during your administration and it is now admitted defeat and disbanded, some city leaders are saying now that the plans were overblown for the celebration from the very start, what was your vision for the Centennial?

JERRY SANDERS: I think my vision was a vision of a lot of people, we wanted to see a grand celebration Balboa Park and ate it been 100 years and the city of 40,000 in 1950 actually put on a world exposition, the small city ever to do that we felt we should be able to put on a grand exposition this year which would have increased tourism, business opportunities,, given the chance for a lot of businesses that just the highly innovation because on the city.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Are you disappointed in the Centennial committee performance?

JERRY SANDERS: I'm disappointed in a lot of things, I think if you look back to where I think this started to go stray is when Doctor Erwin Jacobs was willing to commit $34 million to commit to bypass and redo the interior Balboa Park and a lot of people in the philanthropic community found that that was badly handled and a lot of people said they would not get involved in the park and be demonized for wanting to give money for celebration or wanting to give money for anything else, I think that the tone was set right there and I think it became harder and harder as we went through the film there administration and steps there and getting rid of people and bringing people back in all new things, I think that people lost confidence in the whole thing.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Do you think it was the committee's job to retool after that Panama project was off the table and to find sponsors and put this thing on?

JERRY SANDERS: That is what exactly everyone hoped for and I helped in lining up people to talk with him and people reticent to do that especially after the debacle during the first six months of last year with the mayor that was in office and it lost him at that point and people started pulling back.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Another question about this, you were instrumental in appointing these people to Balboa Park's celebration incorporated nonprofit, why wasn't the project given to tourism and event given to professionals rather than tourism market marketing experts?

JERRY SANDERS: The reason was not given to them actually there was a tourism marketing district on their and business representatives were on it and it was a broad based thing to bring everybody together instead of just putting into a one corner and sing this is only about one when that was not what is all about.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What would you like to see happen now?

JERRY SANDERS: I think the city can still put on some celebrations and it will obviously be skilled back a lot. I think that is fine, it's disappointing for people who are expecting a grand celebration but we have seen a lot of different things happen in philanthropy in the are very sensitive about how they are treated in their given money and I think San Diego is going to have to figure out how to work with people and figure out how to they feel about giving.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: As a former San Diego police chief as well as Mayor how do you think of of the retirement of William Lansdowne?

JERRY SANDERS: I think he understood what was going on.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What was going on?

JERRY SANDERS: There had been several different scandals of last year and when they are handled when something else pops up priests and the weight of that means that you need new leadership and he did a great job in crime went down for ten years and he did a good job and all of that, but it reaches a tipping point where you have to have new leadership and she did a credible job and I believe it will bring fresh air into the police a permit and the city.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: If you were police chief now, how would you handle the scandals and a sexual misconduct allegations, the allegations that there are some racial profiling going on?

JERRY SANDERS: When I left we were the first city in the United States to actually voluntarily collect data on racial profiling and we thought it was very important, you can't police a city if you don't reflect the city and we were trying to hire people from every ethnic group and religious group in San Diego and what needs to be done is a top to bottom review but also to set the tone of chief and every conduct like that needs to meet with him immediate discipline or termination that is what you'll see with Shelley, she's very proud of the least of homage when to the police academy since I was the Academy Commander and I found her entire career and she wants to restore people's trust in the institution and she's the perfect person to do that.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Looks like a proposal to increase San Diego's minimum wage is moving forward at City Hall, the newest economic research that we've been talking about size that was in the minimum wage don't actually cause a major cut back in job growth or the old saws that people talk about.

JERRY SANDERS: That is also labor study, you can go out and find about thirty different economic analyses by economists and other the unrelated to the business side for the labor side and about twenty-seven of them say there will be job impacts because a lot of copies of minimum wage jobs will not hire or find other ways to augment the workforce and we know it will happen in the fast food industry and sometimes you will swipe your card and your food will come out with is this post be entry-level jobs for young people and they are not supposed to like those jobs, they are supposed to want to go to a better school and move up, it will regard to find is that there could be an impact economically and they need to collect the studies, call it down and actually figured out before you do a feel-good program and this is simply a political issue, I don't know if it's nap and economic issue are not that many of the council members want to see this on the November ballot, it will be something that people fought on because it draws out a different voter and if you can try to the different demographic than he can change the results of elections.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: From what you are saying with a result of all of those studies, as the chamber, with a hard and fast now against the minimum wage increase?

JERRY SANDERS: Are taking a no right now, first no one has told us what if they refuse to say what it is and until we know, you're not going to negotiate against ourselves which is what the city is trying to do right now at least the Council President, the mixed docents and we want to see the economic data and we were funding a study so we can make an informed decision.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm out of time here but what ask quickly about the San Diego Opera Opera folding, getting that hurt San Diego's economy?

JERRY SANDERS: It certainly hurt the economy and the arts and culture industry brings about hundred and $70 million here and tourism to San Diego and the opera is a big part of that, that's about 400 jobs. There is very disturbing because those are good middle-class jobs and yes there is a ripple effect, and it's one of those issues that is unfortunate.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I have to end it there, I been speaking with Jerry Sanders, think you for giving us your time. I really appreciate it.

JERRY SANDERS: Thank you Maureen.