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District 6 Council Candidates Outline Plans On Housing, Sewage Pipeline, Homelessness

San Diego City Council District 6 candidates Tommy Hough, Matt Valenti and Je...

Photo by Susan Murphy

Above: San Diego City Council District 6 candidates Tommy Hough, Matt Valenti and Jeremiah Blattler debate on top issues during a forum at Clairemont High School, May 3, 2018.

The District 6 San Diego City Council campaign trail is heating up in the final sprint to the June primary election, with incumbent Chris Cate, and the candidates seeking to replace him, actively participating in forums and debates.

Frustrations over housing development, homelessness and infrastructure are high among some voters in District 6, which includes Mira Mesa, Kearny Mesa, eastern Clairemont, Rancho Penasquitos and Sorrento Valley.

In Clairemont, a recently approved Pure Water sewage pipeline running from the Morena area to Miramar to boost San Diego’s water independence is stirring concerns over potential leakage in residential neighborhoods.

Nearly 150 people packed a recent forum at Clairemont High School, where District 6 challengers Tommy Hough, a Democrat; Matt Valenti, a Democrat; and Jeremiah Blattler, an independent, sounded off on the issue.

Hough, a broadcaster and environmental advocate, said the pipeline should run along Interstate 805 instead of through the community. He said Cate and the council have not been transparent on the project.

Valenti, a lawyer, also blamed Cate for shutting out the community on the plan but said he supports the Pure Water project to protect the region from droughts.

Blattler, a small business owner, said he's not against the project but believes it could put the community at risk. "I'm not opposed to Purewater," Blattler stated. "In fact, I think it's essential to our future water independence. I simply don't like the current chosen path that the pipeline will follow, and would like the city to reach out to residents much sooner about such critical issues."

Photo by Susan Murphy

City Council District 6 incumbent Chris Cate stands beside his challengers, Tommy Hough (left) and Matt Valenti, to talk about his plan to address the housing crisis during a forum at Mira Mesa High School, May 7, 2018.

Incumbent Republican Chris Cate did not attend that event, but in April, he voted in favor of adopting the environmental impact report for phase one of the project.

Cate did appear at a forum this week at Mira Mesa High School, along with Hough and Valenti. The district’s housing development boom was a major topic.

Cate said working with planning groups, subcommunities and stakeholders to determine development locations is essential.

“We have to make sure that we’re smart about where we’re going to place the developments,” Cate said, “and make sure that they’re going to be near areas where we have high employment growth and opportunities for residents and our future generations to live and work where they reside.

Hough said people need to be able to live closer to where they work, rather than sprawling development out from Jamul or Temecula.

“We have one of the largest tech hubs in the city here in district 6 in Sorrento Valley,” Hough said. “We can utilize some of the areas that have been zoned for light industrial use and potentially find places to go and build housing there.”

Valenti said ensuring future development meets the needs of the community is important. “We must face the growing homeless crisis honestly and compassionately as we work with local, county and federal agencies on programs that are effective and sustainable while protecting public safety and using tax dollars wisely,” he said.

Some audience members expressed concern over thousands of homes being planned in the area without enough infrastructure and roads.

Jeff Stevens, chairman of the Mira Mesa Community Planning Group and a resident of the community since 1980, attended the forum to hear the candidates discuss future development.

“Our two biggest projects right now are the redevelopment of Carroll Canyon which will build about 6,500 homes in Carroll Canyon so we’re dealing with that and all the issues that surround it,” Stevens said.

Stevens wants the city’s commitment to expand Carroll Canyon road to alleviate traffic.

Other forum attendees voiced concerns over a growing homeless population.

"We have a homeless problem of people living in the canyons," said Craig Jackson, a resident of Mira Mesa for 21 years. “Why is this a major problem here? Because the canyons are bone dry and the canyons are almost all interconnected here, so that once a fire starts, one may assume it will be going into all canyons downwind.”

Two additional District 6 candidates, Kevin Egger and Fayaz Nawabi, are included in the ballot. On his website, Nawabi said he has decided to drop out of the race following two head injuries.

“After consulting with my doctors, family, and mentors, I am suspending my campaign for San Diego City Council District 6,” Nawabi stated. “This has been a very difficult decision to make, but I feel this is the best course of action because of my circumstance.”

Egger did not participate in recent District 6 forums or debates and did not respond to KPBS’ request for confirmation on whether he is still vying for the seat.

The top two candidates in June will face off in the November general election.

The District 6 San Diego City Council campaign trail is heating up in the final sprint to the June primary election. The candidates seek to replace incumbent Chris Cate, actively participating in forums and debates.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include information about the current status of the Nawabi campaign.

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