New Study Shows Lack Of Diversity Among San Diego’s Decision Makers
Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Photo by Katie Schoolov
Kyra Greene, executive director, Center on Policy Initiatives
One group of community leaders is shining a light on the lack of diversity among governing officials in the San Diego Region.
Boards and commissions in the San Diego region make decisions about everything from your housing to how your tax dollars are spent. The policies created directly impact social, economic and racial equality. But a study released Tuesday by San Diego Leaders and the Center on Policy Initiatives says the vast majority of San Diego’s decision makers are white, male and economically advantaged.
The Community Representation Report focused on five public entities: The City of San Diego Planning Commission, the Port Commission, the Escondido Union High School District Board, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and the San Diego Metropolitan Transit District Board of Directors.
“On too many of the boards, folks just don't look like the community at all," said CPI Executive Director Kyra Greene.
She pointed to the Board of Supervisors as an example.
"They all are economically advantaged compared to the people who live here, and they have to make decisions about social services and where to locate them, but they really don't have experiences that help inform them,” Greene said.
The report says if decision-makers don’t share similar life experiences with the residents they represent, they can’t meet the needs of those residents.
The study notes that the Port Commission and MTS board have become more diverse in recent years. It also highlights several structural issues that stand in the way of diversity on many governing boards in the region. Those issues include social networks, industry preferences and even unpaid boards that create a barrier for low-income working people.
The Center on Policy Initiatives suggests restructuring the boards and commissions so underrepresented people are included in the decision making process.
San Diego Leaders plans a series of town halls to get community input on how to make local leadership more diverse. The first town hall will take place Wednesday, August 15 from 5:30 - 8 p.m. at the East African Cultural Center, at 4061 Fairmount Avenue in City Heights. The event is free and open to the public.
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