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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

San Diego Mayor-Elect Gloria Discusses Challenges Ahead

 November 11, 2020 at 10:21 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 Perhaps the kindest word to describe the situation. The city of San Diego faces in the next few months and years is challenging a still raging pandemic and economy disrupted by COVID the complex issues of police reform and racial justice. That of course, on top of the long-term issues of housing and homelessness, sustainable development and climate change, and those are the issues now facing San Diego's new mayor elect Todd Gloria. If he likes a challenge, he found one. Joining me is mayor elected, Gloria and welcoming. Congratulations. Thank you so much, Maureen, how do you view the multiple problems facing San Diego? It all seems pretty daunting. Speaker 2: 00:43 It does. Uh, but I've never been afraid of hard work. In fact, I find that I thrive in those kinds of situations and I'm ready to dive right in and start doing the work that's necessary to get the virus under control. Get our economy back on track and address the long-term challenges that you just mentioned specifically, the challenges of homelessness and housing affordability. Uh, you know, I'd prefer an easier set of, uh, things that are specific to-do list, but this is the hand that we've been dealt and I'm anxious to get to work, to try and address all of them. Speaker 1: 01:11 You mentioned the virus, the County is now listed in the purple tear. That's the most restrictive of the state's COVID tears. Do you think the city can do more to try to stop the spread of this virus? Speaker 2: 01:22 Well, I think we have no choice, but to do so. Um, you know, the longer we allow this to spread in our community, the more detrimental it's going to be, not just to the health of our community and the mortality in our community, but to the businesses that are struggling and really cannot endure it and whipsaw back and forth between open and close. What I think we have to do is make sure that we're providing clear rules of the road that we're educating our public about the need to follow the public health order, uh, and that we're advocating in Sacramento and Washington DC for the relief that is necessary, not just for the city's finances, but for the finances of individuals, San Diego, families, and local neighborhood businesses that are struggling. So, uh, I don't think we have any other choice than to engage heavily in this concern and hope that we can get a collective response, uh, from every San Diego to do their part, to curtail the virus, get us back to where we were prior to the pandemic. Speaker 1: 02:15 People have been urging more enforcement of, of people wearing masks and so forth. Do you see, and the city doing anything like that? Speaker 2: 02:24 Well, I believe that people should be doing that on their own. Uh, but I, you know, I was a history major at the university of San Diego Marine, and I think you've probably seen some of the accounts from the 1918 pandemic, uh, where it did take enforcement in order to get the compliance that ultimately helped us to defeat that pandemic. Um, while I recognize that we're in a national environment where we're reconsidering, uh, the roles and responsibilities of law enforcement, I'd hope that we could find a way to make sure that San Diegans who by and large are compliant voluntarily, uh, that we can get more compliance, uh, in order to get to the end goal that I think everyone agrees with, which is defeating this virus and getting back to normal. The other thing I would, I guess I would say on with regard to, uh, enforcement, is recognizing that it's a very dangerous thing. If we selectively choose which laws we want to follow in which ones we do not, and it's always been my belief that if you don't like allow, you should change it, um, but not ignore it. And so I'm hopeful that we get the kind of compliance that is necessary if for no other reason that it's a central bedrock of our democracy. That even when we disagree with the laws, we choose to follow them because that's what we have is as a social contract amongst one another, Speaker 1: 03:36 During this summer mayor Faulkner and city leaders allowed fast-tracked approval of outdoor operations for many businesses. Is there anything else the city can do to help businesses that are now closed? Again? Speaker 2: 03:48 I believe we can. And I wanted to start by saying that I'm very supportive of outdoor dining to go cocktails, the kinds of things I've worked on as a state assembly member to make sure that, uh, the state was cutting as much red tape as possible. And what I've heard in terms of feedback is that restaurants have found those sorts of accommodations as being determinative in terms of their ability to stay open and employee San Diego means, I think to your question, Marie, what the city must now do is make sure that our development services department is as customer service oriented as possible. Uh, development services is the department. Most businesses have to interface with, to get a permit or approval to do certain things with their business and, and the buildings they operate out of. Um, if that agency is not customer service or if it doesn't provide certainty of process, if it isn't quick in its timeliness of its processing, these are the things that could be the difference between a business staying in business and going out of business. And so I want to lead an effort that would change the, uh, the culture in that agency, recognizing that we can, by the, by our Swift work, uh, make sure that more people keep their doors open and employ more San Diego. Uh, and that's more of a long-term commitment, but it's one that we must prioritize in order to help more businesses survive this pandemic. Speaker 1: 05:03 What kind of support are you expecting from Sacramento and the new administration in Washington to help San Diego get out of its COVID related budget crisis? Speaker 2: 05:13 So I believe as a state legislator, that there are things that our state government can do to be helpful, but their challenges are very similar to the cities and where both entities are experiencing or forecasting significant budget deficits. My eye is really on the Biden and Harris administration, who clearly would be, I think, much more interested in passing federal level stimulus and relief efforts akin to what happened at the beginning of this year with the federal cares act. I believe that that would provide funding, not just for the County, the city and our schools, uh, but also for unemployed San Diego ones for small businesses that are struggling. And that's why I'm really hopeful that this new administration will choose to prioritize federal level relief. Recognizing that the federal government can run the kinds of deficits that the city and the state are prohibited from running, but are necessary in this time of severe economic downturn, as well as a global pandemic. I think additional federal leaf is necessary and extremely helpful. The new president and vice president will be able to do it. Speaker 1: 06:14 Okay. You supported measure a on this year as ballot, but it didn't get enough votes. That was the proposal for the city to buy bonds, to fund affordable housing for the homeless. So what are the city's options now? Speaker 2: 06:26 Well, we can continue with our strategy, which has built thousands of low income units. It's just not enough for what we have, uh, in terms of need in our community. Uh, what I will foresee is that the city will continue on its path and passing regulatory relief at the local level, similar to what the council did just a few days ago with the passage of its complete communities ordinance, uh, that provides a new, uh, suite of tools, uh, for the community to use, to actually build more low, very low and moderate income housing in our community. Uh, when we take those kinds of, of policies and match them with state level resources, I'm thinking specifically of recently approved, uh, housing bonds at the state level, as well as, uh, funding that comes from things like our cap and trade program at the state level. I think that we can be in a better position to compete and hopefully successfully receive state level funding, and then naturally continue to hope for some relief at the federal level. Um, ultimately, you know, San Diego voters, uh, did overwhelmingly support measure a as you know, it requires a two thirds vote, which we fell short of. Uh, but what I see in those election results is a hunger on behalf of San Diego for a true action, aggressive action when it comes to housing affordability. And I intend to be a mayor that delivers upon that, Speaker 1: 07:42 No, after the racial justice demonstrations in San Diego and across the nation last summer, there were calls for the city to shift some funds from San Diego police to more social services. Now that did not happen. What's going to be your stand on that. Speaker 2: 07:58 Well, Morgan, I think the fact of the matter is what we're coming up against is a budget cycle is a cycle that is going to really put every department in a defensive position when it comes to funding. Uh, the size of the deficits that are being projected really means that no city agency is going to be left untouched. What my commitment is is to make sure that we minimize the neighborhood level impacts of, of any of those kinds of reductions and recognizing that neighborhoods are hurting, uh, and that we as a city have to support them with regard to the future of our police department. I'd like to set a goal of making San Diego, a national leader when it comes to policing in the 21st century, we were a leader, uh, not that long ago when it came to community oriented policing, and we've fallen away from that. Speaker 2: 08:42 What I'd like to get us back there again, recognizing that if we can prevent a Minneapolis or Louisville kind of situation here in San Diego, uh, that we will be far better for it. Um, I have committed to making sure that we and faithfully implement measured beat, which the voters of San Diego just approved, uh, to create an independent police review board, uh, that is not an insignificant commitment because that review board will cost additional dollars. But again, I believe those are dollars well spent if it helps us to prevent the kinds of trauma and crisis that we've seen in other American cities. And last the Marine. I think that as we work with our, uh, the city's new office of race and equity, we will identify areas for improvement, not just in policing, but in housing and economic development in education, where we as a Saint, as San Diego can become more inclusive and more equitable. Uh, and I believe that some of those recommendations will include transitioning responsibilities that are currently given to law enforcement, that the community and law enforcement agree are not no longer appropriate and give those to train professionals, uh, that would be more appropriate. I'm thinking specifically of homeless outreach, mental health response, uh, calls, uh, as well as truancy sweeps, uh, with, Speaker 1: 09:56 And mayor elect Gloria. When you take office in December, what's your first priority. Speaker 2: 10:02 Uh, my first priority is to set up the best team I possibly can set up to help get us through this difficult time and get us back to a position of prosperity and growth. Um, that is maybe not the sexiest answer, uh, that you or your listeners want to hear, but in a time like this, um, we have to have a team of pros, uh, that will help us protect our neighborhoods. Well-served the citizens of this city and get us back on track. Um, the, because of the number of departures from the current administration, there are a number of key vacancies that need to be filled. And I hope to be able to do that relatively swiftly in order to make sure this vision that San Diego voters have now endorsed through their votes is something that we can actually implement. And I recognize that this is at a time when San Diego is, are really counting on their city government to deliver on their behalf. And I hope to be able to deliver upon that as quickly as I possibly can. Speaker 1: 10:51 I've been speaking with San Diego mayor elected, Gloria. Thank you so much.

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San Diego's Mayor-Elect Todd Gloria joined Midday Edition on Wednesday to discuss his plans as San Diego's next mayor.
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