San Diego City Council Passes Budget With No Cuts To Police Funding
San Diego City Council members approved a budget Monday night that maintains current library hours and funds a new office of race and equity.
The council also left funding for the San Diego Police Department untouched despite 10 hours of public testimony, nearly all of it from people calling for cuts to SDPD and redirecting those funds to social welfare programs.
The calls to reduce the department’s funding come amid a wave of protests throughout the world against police brutality and racism after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody on Memorial Day.
The city's police budget totals more than $566 million — a roughly 5% increase from the current fiscal year, due in part to increased benefits negotiated by city employee unions.
Councilmember Monica Montgomery successfully convinced Mayor Kevin Faulconer and her council colleagues to fund a new Office of Race and Equity that would aim to promote minority-owned businesses and work toward greater racial equity in the city. She said her work to reform police practices and increase civilian oversight would continue.
"We have been poring over the budget and trying to do the best that we possibly can with as much support as we possibly have, to make a better city and take this opportunity during this time," Montgomery said.
Montgomery later issued a statement via Twitter saying she was "committed to developing a plan that can reasonably and responsibly address diverting funds from SDPD."
Councilmember Chris Ward cast the only "no" vote on the budget, saying he was disappointed his rental relief fund for low-income tenants impacted by the coronavirus pandemic would get a small fraction of the funding he had hoped for. He also said the police department needed deeper change than what the budget envisions.
"I would have liked to have seen a reallocation of resources from police toward programs, policies and initiatives that support this work ... because we need to be investing more in our people, proactive measures and less in reactive measures," Ward said.
Shortly after the council approved the budget, a group of demonstrators gathered outside Faulconer's home in Point Loma to protest his budget. The group eventually grew to around 50, then dispersed peacefully.
Besides maintaining library hours at their current levels, the council also committed to a number of recommendations proposed by the Office of the Independent Budget Analyst. Among them were $1.8 million for tree trimming, $756,228 for weed abatement, $250,000 to support an update of the city's Climate Action Plan and $500,000 for a pilot program to create internet access in low-income communities.