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San Diego Mayor Bob Filner Talks Pot Ruling, Budget


Bob Filner, Mayor, City of San Diego


Mayor Bob Filner says San Diego should lead the way in providing access to medical marijuana.

His statement comes after the California Supreme Court ruled Monday that local governments can ban medical marijuana dispensaries.

The issue has become a hot topic in San Diego. Last month, Mayor Filner proposed new rules for dispensaries within city limits. The same week, federal agents raided several pot shops.

"We have the power to make sure that it is not near schools or playgrounds where our children gather, which anywhere will affect the quality of life in a neighborhood. So, we have to balance the needs for humanitarian access, then needs to protect our children and neighborhoods and that's what we're trying to do," Filner said.

The Mayor said Monday's ruling does not affect his commitment to developing legal zoning regulations for medical marijuana shops.

"I hope they (council) doesn't try to go kill it by over-studying it leaving it in the city attorney's office too long. I think a compassionate view of this is, that we have to do this but on a strictly regulated basis," he added.

During his monthly appearance on KPBS Midday Edition, Mayor Filner also addressed his budget proposal, which is currently under review by the city council.

One of his proposals is raising eyebrows among city leaders. Filner's spending plan calls for delaying the issuance of $80 million of infrastructure bonds.

San Diego City Councilman Kevin Faulconer told KPBS last month, that Filner's budget would postpone the council's plans for dealing with street repairs for a year. The City's Independent Budget Analyst, Andrea Tevlin, agrees with Faulconers assessment.

"I think it's an unfair criticism. It looks like she was just looking for stuff to criticize but the momentum is going to continue. But it does not do any good to pay interest on a bond when my money from the previous bond has not even been spent yet," Filner responded.

Filner stressed that the city is not going to neglect infrastructure needs.

He signaled to a new plan on city leases which he says will save the city millions of dollars, which he says will be redirected to pay for the city's structural needs.

The Mayor also responded to several issues raised by previous San Diego Mayors during KPBS Leading San Diego: Former Mayors Reflect program that aired last week.

One issue Filner has made a priority is homelessness. But as his predecessor, Jerry Sanders, sees it, the city may be enabling the homeless.

"A lot of people want to feel good and help the homeless, what they do is enable homelessness, they enable homelessness by feeding them. You can get 16 meals a day within a 10 block area downtown. There is no food shortage for homeless. We have people come downtown and provide them on the street corners which concentrates in downtown which means that the folks never have to go and address the problems in terms of treatment and getting medication," Former Mayor Jerry Sanders said.

Filner disagrees with Sanders comments.

"I think it's a pretty superficial view to take to say well they have enough to eat."

Filner said he has a plan to get the homeless off the streets. Although, he didn't say when he may be unveiling that plan to the public.

Meanwhile, Former San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock talked about how Filner's career in Washington might make him more contentious than other mayors.

"The appearances that this new mayor is a much more partisan person because he's had a history of many years of the Congress, and Congress is a very partisan place. Bringing that into San Diego is a foreign element and even Democrats on the council, I think kind of record little that some of the stuff that went on, the kind of combativeness that may be is what Mayor Filner is anyway but also that's coming out of the experience he's had it Congress," Hedgecock said.

Filner's response:

"For Roger Hedgecock to call somebody partisan is rather strange. I mean, he's probably the most partisan extreme guy on the radio today. So I'm not sure what he's contributing to the debate," said Filner.


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