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San Diegans Want More Funding For Arts, Senior Centers And Sidewalks

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Photo by Andrew Bowen

A man speaks at the City Council's budget hearing, May 16, 2016.

An evening meeting of the San Diego City Council heard an array of calls for changes to the fiscal 2017 budget. Mayor Kevin Faulconer is due to release his revised budget proposal on Tuesday.

The San Diego City Council on Monday heard calls for more money for arts programs, senior centers and sidewalk improvements at an evening hearing on the mayor's proposed $3.3 billion budget for fiscal 2017.

The hearing began at 6 p.m. so more people could attend. A group of seniors in Bay Terrace gave a presentation on the need for a neighborhood senior center promised years ago that has not been built.

Todd Blakesley, representing the San Diego International Fringe Festival, called on the council to honor its Penny for the Arts commitment to increase funding for arts programs.

“That money is essential to continue to develop this unique economic engine, which is the arts," he said.

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The City Council approved Penny for the Arts unanimously in 2012, promising big increases to arts funding. But city budgets have consistently fallen short of the funding timeline.

The most striking moment of the evening came from Veronica Cortez, whose 15-year-old son, Jonathan, was killed in a hit-and-run incident in October. Cortez said she believed her son's life could have been spared if the stretch of 54th Street in City Heights where he was walking had sidewalks.

“If we can fix this problem on this one street so that this doesn’t happen again, and another family, another father or another mother, doesn’t have to feel this pain that I will feel for the rest of my life, it will give me a tiny bit of consolation,” she said. "And I will know that my son’s death was not in vain."

RELATED: San Diego Police, Seniors Benefit From Mayor’s Revised Budget

The fiscal 2017 budget, which begins July 1, does allocate money to street and sidewalk improvements in the area.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Tuesday is due to release his revised budget, which he promised will also include more money to recruit and retain 911 dispatchers. The City Council Budget Review Committee will hold a hearing on the revised budget Thursday.

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Photo of Andrew Bowen

Andrew Bowen
Metro Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover local government — a broad beat that includes housing, homelessness and infrastructure. I'm especially interested in the intersections of land use, transportation and climate change.

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