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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Barbara Bry Discusses Race For San Diego Mayor

 January 27, 2020 at 9:02 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 The president's lawyers continue his defense at the Senate impeachment trial today. We'll bring you live NPR coverage of the trial starting this morning at 10 well believe it or not, mail in ballots for the California primary start going out early next week. Election day itself is just a little over a month away on March 3rd so midday edition is stepping up its election coverage starting with interviews with the candidates for San Diego mayor. Our first interview is with Democrat Barbara Bree who represents district one on the San Diego city council and Barbara, welcome. Great. Thank you for having me here this morning. Why are you running to be San Diego's next mayor? So I think you know I'm not a career politician. I ran for public office for the first time in 2016 after a career as a journalist, a high tech entrepreneur and starting to organizations that empower women, Athena San Diego and run women run. And I got to city hall and quite frankly what I found was a mess, a culture of no accountability and no transparency. Speaker 1: 01:02 I stood up to it immediately. I oppose the soccer city land grab. I demanded an independent audit of the water department and I could go into more detail later on the one Oh one Ash street, a fiasco, the purchase of the former Sempra headquarters by the city council, uh, before I arrived and, and honestly we're not going to solve our problems like homelessness and housing with a politics as usual culture and I'm running to change that culture and to bring real management and leadership experience to the role of being a strong mayor for the city of San Diego. And how would you handle what is one of San Diego's major concerns? The issue of homelessness in the city? I think we have to start by addressing the root causes by acknowledging that housing first has failed all the root causes in many cases are mental health and substance abuse issues. Speaker 1: 01:54 And just giving someone a place to live if we don't address the root causes is not going to be successful. We've already seen that in the data that many people to whom we do give a place to live, end up back on the street within a matter of months or a year because we have not addressed the root causes. The key is addressing each person as an individual and some a woman who's leaving an abused marriage may need a house up home place to live right away. Uh, someone with a mental health issues needs help resolving that. And if someone breaks the law, we need to enforce how does the city go or about handling the homeless issue on an individual basis. I think that's by having social workers doing outreach, uh, on an individual basis to determine what the needs are of each individual and treating each person with, with what they need to be able to be ready to live in housing. Speaker 1: 02:49 The city council has said for several years now that the city is in a housing crisis for both low income and affordable middle-class housing. What's your plan for fixing that? So I think that gets back to one of my major priorities, which is protecting the quality of our neighborhoods. And, um, right now we have 16,000 single family homes that are off the market that are being used as short term vacation rentals at a time. As you noted, we have a housing shortage and that's 3% of our housing stock. So on day one I will start by enforcing our existing municipal code which prohibits them in residential neighborhoods. As a council member, I have supported increased density along transit. I have voted by right to add the ability to for 45,000 additional housing units and I will continue to do that. In addition, I believe home ownership is a missing piece and that's how most people build up wealth. Speaker 1: 03:45 And I am going to be advocating for a statewide housing bond that will provide first time home buyers with closing costs and down payment assistance if they buy in a transit priority area. Now you support to some high density housing, but you've also come out against the yes, in my backyard movement in San Diego who want to see a lot more high density housing build. But you're skeptical of the motives behind that idea. Yes. So I am opposed to SB 50 and similar efforts by the state to end single family zoning and to impose state regulations on land juice. I believe San Diego should be in control of what happens in our neighborhoods. SB 50 would allow essentially a fourplex to be built on any single family home lot in San Diego. Uh, my opponent, mr Gloria has in the past supported efforts like SB 50 and so has my opponent, Mr. Sherman and I've also been against eliminating parking requirements. Speaker 1: 04:46 I, it's fine to reduce them, but eliminating them and transit priority areas is going to be a disaster. Now let's talk about the transition San Diego needs to make from total reliance on cars to public transportation and bikes. If we're going to meet the goals of the climate action plan, you're supported by groups opposed to some of those efforts, like removing some parking for bikes on 30th street. How do we reach those climate goals if we don't take action? I think 30th street is a great example of the city officials making a decision without including the community and without providing the community with adequate data. Just two blocks. Parallel to 30th street is Utah street, which has bike lanes, very nice bike lanes, which could be protected further. Utah is in the SANDAG plan, the SANDAG mobility plan, so why? Why was 30th street chosen a street where, yeah, many older apartments exist, which were built long before parking was included, which is where many small businesses exist, which were many older people shop and need access to handicap spaces. Speaker 1: 05:56 Nobody has. We have not gotten clear answers as to why 30th street was designated when two blocks over is Utah street, which already has bike lanes. Do you have though the commitment to the climate action goals to make hard, unpopular choices if you have to. I've already demonstrated that I will make hard choices at city hall. I was the first elected official to oppose soccer city. Remember it was supported by Kevin Faulkner, very popular mayor at the time. I was the first elected official. I was out there by myself. Soccer city ran tens of thousands of dollars of ads on social media criticizing me. I will make decisions that are in the best interests of our residents. My two major opponents are each supported by a major political party and special interests who are pouring a lot of money into their races, and they will be beholden to those special interests. I am the only candidate with the independence and the leadership experience to stand up to special interests and to make decisions that are in the best interest of our neighborhoods and our residents. I've been speaking with San Diego may, oral candidate Barbara, Bree, thank you for joining us. Thank you.

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Democrat Barbara Bry represents District 1 on the San Diego City Council. She is running against two current or former city council members, Democratic Assemblyman Todd Gloria and Republican City Councilman Scott Sherman, and community activist Tasha Williamson.
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