Mayor Kevin Faulconer: From Minimum Wage To Comic-Con
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Our top story on Midday Edition, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer's here with an update on city business and to take your calls. Since we last spoke with the Mayor, the minimum wage ordinance has been passed by the city council, a big tax rebate deal has been approved for the biotech firm Illumina, and Mayor Faulconer became acquainted with the thrill of the zip line. Welcome back. KEVIN FAULCONER: Great to be here, thank you. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You opened Comic-Con by zip lining to the convention center. Whose idea was that? KEVIN FAULCONER: That was a lot of fun. It came out of one of my team member's ideas, when I was not quite sure if it was a good one. I did it with the Council President Todd Gloria, it was a lot of fun, and more importantly help draw attention to how important Comic-Con is to the city. We had a great convention over the last couple of days, and I was just in a meeting earlier this morning, just by the numbers over 133,000 people and probably more than that, about $175 million worth of economic impact. Comic-Con is a lot of fun and hugely important to our city, from a revenue standpoint. We had a lot of fun on the zip line, and we will see what we do next year. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The success of this year's Comic-Con got a lot of people thinking about the convention center expansion, and when that maybe beginning. What is the update on that? KEVIN FAULCONER: Great question, unfortunately that has been the subject of litigation that we're hoping to have a ruling on that within the next couple of weeks. I'm a strong supporter of the expansion, the council is as well. But only for groups like Comic-Con, you saw how many people are there, and the ability to expand means do we keep Comic-Con if they want to stay in San Diego, but we also have access to other groups and larger conventions around the country that would love to come to San Diego. We have a great advantage right now, people want to come and we want to make sure that we have a convention center that will help that occur. And from the bottom line perspective, we look at for example, three larger sources of revenue to the city, sales tax, property tax and the TOT tax. When people come to San Diego and spend money, those are dollars we can use to pave roads, hire police officers and firefighters, healthy economy helps us. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Are there court dates set? Are we moving forward on this litigation? KEVIN FAULCONER: There was a hearing just about a month ago, and I believe the judge is scheduled to rule anytime within the next several weeks. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me go to the phones, we are taking calls for Mayor Kevin Faulconer. Sarah is going from Oceanside, welcome to the program. What is your question? NEW SPEAKER: I had a question for the Mayor, I am a volunteer with San Diego 350, and I've been participating with the city process to pass and implement a climate action plan. I want to know if the Mayor supports the current climate action plan draft, which is strong and enforceable, and would bring clean energy jobs to San Diego. What is holding up getting that operational, and when we expect the city to move forward on that? KEVIN FAULCONER: Great question, I'm a strong supporter of protecting the environment, and we are moving the climate action plan forward. It is out for review right now and the city department is taking a good look at that to see how it can work, and in fact I put it in the position in the city budget which the council approved to hire a sustainability position that will oversee mentation of the climate action plan. I'm committed to moving that on the timetable that we have established before I was actually sworn in, to get that part of the council for spring of 2015. We are on track to do that and I'm confident that we'll have a plan that will work and is supported by everyone. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: There has been criticism, including from a couple of members of city council that would you were, when you came into office, you're handed this whole plan that was set to go immediately into review and there has been foot dragging in getting the review process started on the climate action plan and the plan to reduce the number of plastic bags. KEVIN FAULCONER: I put it out for review right away, it hadn't started with you and my commitment was we get the input from all of our departments because we want to know exactly how it will affect us as citizens in every single department. That is happening, we have had great feedback so far and I'm in the process of hiring a sustainability director position for the city that will not only implement the climate action plan but also making sure that we are continuing leadership in a lot of areas like solar and a lot of other things when it comes to sustainability. The big issue right now of course is water, and the drought, and you're going to see us talking a lot more. I'm going to be back in Washington DC a couple of months, on water recycling and making sure that we are controlling our own destiny here in San Diego. Strong environmental support and strong is this community support for that, we have to get through that process. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So it is your position that there is been noted lay in the process of implementing the climate action plan? KEVIN FAULCONER: Absolutely, we're going to move forward with that and have all of the reviews and I'm confident that it before the council and have strong support for it. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Before we take another call I want to talk about the fact that the city council approved the minimum wage and you have publicly declare that you will be vetoing that. Just for anyone who does not know, the minimum wage approved by the council boost minimum wage of to $11.50 an hour for three years. You have said a number of times that your reason is that it would put San Diego businesses at a disadvantage. I wonder, have you got any facts or figures to back up that assumption? KEVIN FAULCONER: I have been very clear that my job as mayor has been to create good jobs for San Diegans. For our hard-working families. To really create opportunities to be successful, particularly as we're going out of one of the worst recessions in the country's history. The state is already raising the minimum wage. The question is, should San Diego put additional costs on top of that, particularly when we just started that at the state level, it has only gone for about three weeks now. My main concern has been and will continue to be, to make sure that we are competitive. That were not causing folks to raise prices or lay off people, which will have the exact opposite effect of what we're trying to do, which is to put San Diegans back to work. We're not an island in San Diego. We compete with other cities and I want to make sure our businesses are thriving, we're successful, creating good jobs here and expanding good jobs here. That will continue to be my number one focus and goal. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Rita is calling for San Diego, welcome to the program. NEW SPEAKER: Thank you, good afternoon Mayor, I am so disappointed that you would veto, or about to veto this bill, because all it means that small businesses would just have to take in itty-bitty teeny weenie cut, they don't have to raise wages, it would make San Diego a healthier place to live, it would mean that parents could stay home and kids are sick, I don't understand how you could take that away. In addition, who wants to be served by someone who is sick in a restaurant? I am disheartened. KEVIN FAULCONER: Rita I appreciate your position on that. We look at some of the cost of you combine with the state is going to be doing with minimum wage and what the council wants to do on top of that, that is about a 40% increase. I might argue that is not just a little bit, and we need to do everything we can to make sure that small businesses ñ they are really struggling all of the time to be successful and create jobs for San Diegans to get into. We have small businesses cut back hours, or don't hire folks, or they all folks, we're doing the exact opposite of what we should be doing, which is to create good opportunities to get San Diegans employed. I happen to think when we create those opportunities, and people know that we are back and opened business, that is how we will post everyone's ability to not only get a job, but get higher wages as well. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You were talking before addressing the minimum wage, that the council should look at facts and figures in other areas in the country that have considered this. There are some facts and figures out there in places like San Jose and Albuquerque. They are finding a minimal impact. Does that mean at all? KEVIN FAULCONER: It does, you always have to look at what other cities are doing, and you also have to look at the facts of what is going to be happening here. We know that the state is going to raise the minimum wage, that is one step and there will be another step. I think that we've seen throughout this discussion over the last several months, a lot of small businesses are saying wait, let us try to absorb this. Why on earth would we be adding these extra costs on San Diegans, when we have not had a chance to see what those impacts are? I think that makes sense, because we have to make sure we're giving San Diegans the opportunity for jobs here in San Diego and not in other cities nearby that have a different structure. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The minimum wage as you know past 6 ñ 3 city council vote, that is a veto proof majority on the council. When do you plan to actually veto the measure? KEVIN FAULCONER: Later this week. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: One would assume that the city council might override that, will you work in any other ways to try to defeat the measure? KEVIN FAULCONER: That's a very assumption that the override will take place. We can have those types of disagreements, but what I have tried to do since I've been elected is to foster an environment where we are working closely and collaborating with the council. I served on the council for eight years and will have differences from time to time. We talked on the show, the difference is that I have had for example on the linkage the plan and the Barrio Logan community plan. Those things will happen, but I will keep focused on making sure that from a citywide standpoint as mayor, I am trying to create good quality jobs for hard-working San Diegans. I'm going to be vocal about that, and I will be out there. Some of these debates are okay to have, but at the end of the day I have to make sure we're doing everything we can for hard-working families. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to talk about the Illumina deal, which we heard about earlier this month. This is an medical device biotech firm here in San Diego. The deal struck with the city, they get $1.5 million in tax rebates for agreeing to stay in San Diego for ten years. This is another facts and figures type of question. How will we know that San Diego is actually benefiting from this plan? KEVIN FAULCONER: I think we will see it when we see the jobs and the jobs they will add. When you look at Illumina, which is a fantastic company, cutting edge on sequencing the human genome. We're talking about advances in medical technology and how that better stall of us as individuals and health in the future. We are fortunate to have that type of cluster technology here in San Diego. We should be doing everything that we can to not only keep that, but also expand it. When it comes to folks like Illumina, to have them expand jobs in San Diego is critically important for us. You saw that they were dubbed the world's smartest company in MIT magazine, a couple of months ago. We want those jobs in San Diego, we want more of those jobs in San Diego, and we want the cutting edge innovation particularly from licenses and biotechnology to stay and grow here. I was proud to work with them and I was proud that the council supported unanimously. That is the type of thing that we can do by using some local tools, to attract businesses and to grow businesses in San Diego, because we know the competition that is happening in other areas like Boston, and San Antonio. I don't want jobs like those going to Texas. I want them staying here in San Diego. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Are you prepared to offer deals like this to other businesses? KEVIN FAULCONER: The answer is yes, unequivocally. As we look at some of those areas where we have competitive advantages where we can grow jobs and keep them here, and let San Diegans grow in that when we have the sales tax that grows, and we share and that, in my sense and the councils sense, that is a win-win. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You said that you are going to go back to Washington DC for a conference about water, the drought, and recycling. The San Diego County water authority recently approved mandatory water restrictions on outdoor watering. They are now in line with state mandatory water restrictions. Will the city of San Diego be expanding its mandatory water restrictions to include limiting the days per week that people can water outside? KEVIN FAULCONER: The good news is, we're obviously head of the state instructions, and those restrictions are the ones that San Diegans have already been doing. I will take this opportunity that everybody is listening, thank you for all of your help and support. When you look at the water use that San Diegans have done, people are spending a lot of time and effort to get it down, it is down almost 20% since 1997. That is great news for us, but the question is, we have to be vigilant. While the water authority raised up some other water districts to what we're already doing from restrictions standpoint, we very well could be forced to take additional restrictions. It is a lot of education that still has to go out, we need to make sure we're doing everything from a conservation standpoint. That will continue, and one other part of this that is critically important, we need to keep making sure that we are taking the steps to make us as water independent as possible. When I say water independent, I mean independent of Los Angeles and the Metropolitan Water District. As we look at things like the desalinization plant that will come online in Carlsbad, that will help the region's water supply, and the pure water effort, taking water recycling and turning that into drinking water. I am a strong proponent of that, and I will make sure that we are pushing very very hard to get all of the approvals for us to do that in a significant way. I think we can be national leaders in water recycling right here in San Diego. It makes good sense for the environment and makes good sense from a reliability standpoint, and an independent standpoint as San Diegans. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Specifically, the county mandatory water restrictions restrict the number of days, not just the hours in which people can water lawns. Will the city of San Diego be considering adding that to mandatory water restrictions? KEVIN FAULCONER: We have been there before and we may get there again. Right now we are mandatory in terms of some of that, but we have already asked folks to get that to three days a week. Most San Diegans are doing that, I water use is down, and that is good thing. But we need to remain vigilant. This drought is real, the effects of the drought a real. Will be working with our partners at the county water authority and all San Diegans, residents and homeowners, you'll see a lot more education and awareness. Not that everyone needs mining, but sometimes that is helpful. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And quickly, you said you're going back to Washington DC, what specifically will you be talking about their? KEVIN FAULCONER: I will be meeting with the congressional delegation and going back in September and setting up meetings over the water issues. We have had great support with the environmental community, but we need to make sure we have both federal approval and statewide approval to move forward with that. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: If you weren't able to get your question asked during our conversation here, this afternoon the Mayor's staff will be answering questions posted to our website at KPBS.org. Mayor Faulconer, thank you.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said he will veto the City Council's ordinance to raise the minimum wage to $11.50 by 2017 because he doesn't want to put the city's jobs at risk.
"I will continue to be vocal to support particularly our small businesses that are struggling to hire people and get them into work," Faulconer told KPBS Evening Edition. The mayor speaks to KPBS each month to provide an update on the city's business.
Faulconer also told KPBS Midday Edition his office is moving a climate action plan forward. He added a position in the city's budget that will oversee implementation of the plan, and said the plan is on schedule. The City Council will take it up before next spring, he said.
Some council members criticized the mayor for delaying the plan, but Faulconer said he put it up for review right after taking office.
Faulconer also said he is looking to offer more tax rebate deals like the one recently approved for the biotech firm Illumina.
He said we will know San Diego is benefitting from the deal when we see the jobs it creates.
"As we look at some of those areas where we have competitive advantages, where we know that we can grow jobs, and keep jobs here, that San Diegans grow in that, when we have that sales tax grow and we share in that, to my sense and the council's sense, that's the definition of a win-win," he said.
Faulconer also became acquainted with the thrill of the zip-line at San Diego's Comic-Con. He said it was one of his team member's ideas.