Filner Presents Plan To Add 6,000 Port Jobs, Reduce Waterfront Pollution
Mayor Bob Filner's plan to use the Port of San Diego as a center of job creation was aired for the first time today at a City Council committee meeting.
Mayor Bob Filner's plan to use the Port of San Diego as a center of job creation received support from three City Council members at its first public airing today.
Filner told the council's Rules and Economic Development Committee that by 2020, he wants to add 6,000 high-paying jobs along San Diego's waterfront; reduce air, water and greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent; increase exports by one-third; and build infrastructure to move cargo from ships to ground transportation lines.
Among his strategies are to make sure San Diego companies use local facilities for imports and exports, lead trade delegations overseas and welcome representatives of other countries, get manufacturers in Mexico to use San Diego's port, and make more effective use of port real estate. He also has visions of creating an ocean freeway to help expedite trade to American cities along the coast as well as to Mexico and Canada.
"You know about I-5 as the highway up the coast. Well, we ought to have a marine highway. We can call it the M-5," he said. "It will, not only, of course, ease traffic congestion and air pollution form trucking along the highway, but will use smaller vessels and shorter routes."
The mayor, who frequently touted the port's potential as an engine for generating higher employment during last year's mayoral campaign, also called for revitalization of the area's fishing industry and continued support for the military.
"As we moved into an incredible high-tech center, and we still have a wonderful tourist economy, that middle group of skilled working people, we have never fully replaced," he said.
Councilman Mark Kersey said Filner's plan builds upon a strategic planning effort the port district completed last year, and which included input from San Diego and other member cities.
"The mayor's priorities seem to be right in line with the regional vision for the port, which includes creating well-paying jobs, investing in infrastructure, and creating a healthy and sustainable bay and waterfront,'' Kersey said.
The plan also received support from committee Chairwoman Sherri Lightner and Councilman David Alvarez. Committee members Marti Emerald and Kevin Faulconer were absent.
Lightner asked city staff to incorporate the mayor's suggestions into the city's economic development outline.
Filner also wants to set minimum qualifications for appointees to San Diego's three positions on the port's board of commissioners. The city's representatives should at least have several years of professional experience in the maritime, real estate, hospitality, cruise, sustainability or diplomatic fields, according to his presentation.
Kersey suggested that finance, international trade and public service be added to the list of categories.
In January, Filner vetoed two City Council appointments to the board -- positions that remain unfilled. He said the city's representatives should be selected after port policy and qualifications are determined.
Prospective commissioners should be prepared to address public policy concerns in a way that is beneficial to the city and the region, according to Filner.
San Diego's lone representative on the board at the moment, Bob Nelson, said the commissioner job is not for "rookies.''
"I think you should look for people who have demonstrated through their prior activity that you have been able to observe or research, that they are capable of dealing in the public environment -- with all that implies,'' Nelson said. "Because if I do something crazy tomorrow, I'm not really the one that's going to held accountable -- you are.''
He added leadership of nonprofits or academia to potential qualification categories.
The committee voted to forward the appointment recommendations to the full City Council.
On Monday, the city's Independent Budget Analyst said no other ports in California have codified qualifications for port commissioners.