Spotlight on California 50th and 53rd Congressional Seats, Race For San Diego Mayor, County Supervisor Races, Convention Center Expansion, Land Use Measures And School Bonds
KPBS Midday Edition / March 2, 2020
Speaker 1: 00:00 Do you know who you're voting for in the primary? Tomorrow we have the information you need for the San Diego ballot. I'm Jade Hindman and I'm wearing Kavanaugh. This is KPBS mid day edition. It's Monday, March 2nd for the first time in four decades. Someone named Duncan Hunter isn't on the ballot for the 50th congressional district in San Diego's East County. KPBS reporter Prius Schrieffer takes a look at this local race that has a national spotlight.
Speaker 2: 00:41 Been a whirlwind in the 50th uh, district with 750,000 constituents that covers much of North and East San Diego County and has been one of California's most reliably red districts for decades. The seat has been held by the Hunter dynasty first by Duncan Hunter sr, who served as a representative from 1981 to 2009 and then with his son, Dunkin Hunter jr, who was elected in 2009 and served as the representative for the 50th until he resigned earlier this month after pleading guilty to a campaign finance crime. Hunter denied any wrongdoing for more than a year after being charged in 2018 with 60 federal criminal counts for using $250,000 of campaign money on personal expenses. But he did a one 80 in early December and pleaded guilty on one count, Hunter told local news station K USI he wanted to spare his family a trial.
Speaker 3: 01:40 I did make mistakes. Um, I did not properly monitor or, uh, account for my camp campaign money. Um, I justify that plea with the understanding that I am responsible for my campaign and what happens to my campaign money
Speaker 2: 01:53 Hunter now faces five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he sentenced on March 17th. But where does that leave the 50th? Because of the timing of Hunter's resignation. California governor Gavin Newsome decided not to call a special election. That means voters like Joseph knob will have no representation in Congress until January of 2021 when the winner of this year's November election takes office.
Speaker 4: 02:22 Well, I think our community should be represented at all times by a rep, by a Congressman. So if we don't have a Congressman for a year, I mean that's not really fair for the people around here who, who vote,
Speaker 2: 02:35 but they will have a chance to vote in the March primary when three Republicans and one Democrat compete for the seat. One of the front runners is Democrat Amar camp and a jar of former Obama administration official who ran against Hunter in 2018 and lost by fewer than 9,000 votes.
Speaker 3: 02:53 Nearly half the district voted for me to be a Congressman. This district, we've been running for three and we've been talking
Speaker 5: 03:00 to everybody, uh, Republican and Democrats, uh, independence, people who aren't ignorant but ignored by the democratic and Republican party
Speaker 2: 03:08 on the Republican side. Former nine term Congressman Darrel Eissa, current state Senator Brian Jones and former radio host in San Diego city. Councilman Carl DeMaio are all contenders of the candidates only Jones and [inaudible] live in the 50th district. Joan said the voters there should be familiar with his record.
Speaker 5: 03:30 I think I've built a pretty good reputation in Sacramento, you know, working with my democratic colleagues to get stuff done. Uh, I've fought and defended for the principles that are important to this district all at the same time getting bills passed through Sacramento and signed by the governor. So I think that skillset will transfer well to Washington D C
Speaker 2: 03:52 none of the three Republican candidates was able to gain the endorsement of the San Diego Republican party, which requires a two thirds majority of party committee members of the three running de Mio has been the most vocal opponent of Dunkin Hunter
Speaker 5: 04:07 and I've shown time and time again, whether it's taking on the politicians with the, the pension, uh, reform initiative or fighting them on the gas tax. I'm willing to step forward and fight for the people when career politicians sit on the sidelines.
Speaker 2: 04:23 [inaudible] and about a dozen of his supporters showed up to protest Daryl Eissa when he announced his candidacy in late September. Eissa was the only candidate who turned down our repeated requests for an on camera interview. But he did speak to the press when he threw his hat in the ring.
Speaker 6: 04:40 So I believe that I have the history, the skills, the seniority, and the capability to hit the ground running, not just for this district, but for California.
Speaker 2: 04:51 The primary is March 3rd the top two candidates will go on to the general election in November Prius. Sure. Either K PBS news
Speaker 6: 05:00 and now to the 53rd congressional district where democratic Congresswoman Susan Davis surprised many. When she announced last year, she was retiring from her seat, but it didn't take long for more than a dozen candidates to jump into the race to take her place. KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman introduces us to some of the candidates looking to fill her seat. The 53rd congressional district covers a large part of the County, including sections of San Diego, El Cahone and Chula Vista. I joined the Marine Corps, earn the rank of captain and deployed as a combat engineer, democratic candidate Janessa gold Beck left the Marine Corps in August and before that was a human rights advocate. Gold Beck says voters are most worried about the high cost of housing.
Speaker 7: 05:39 That experience of trying to find a place to live and be able to afford a, a neighborhood with a good schools and access to easy transportation. You know, that's, that's tough for a lot of people. I think people are concerned about that. I'm also hearing a lot of folks talk about the climate crisis. Um, in California and San Diego especially, we are at the forefront of feeling effects of climate change, whether it's wildfires in our canyons and uh, right up the road or the effects of coastal, uh, rising sea levels on our coastal communities and our installations.
Speaker 8: 06:08 GOLDOC also says her votes in Congress won't be bought by big donors.
Speaker 7: 06:11 The reason why Congress hasn't been able to make progress on issues that a lot of Americans care about and agree on, like passing universal background checks for gun sales is because members of Congress are bought off by special interests. So I will be a consistent voice always asking who's behind what piece of legislation and why. Second, tackling the climate crisis, we've talked a little bit about it so far, but really the effects are being felt here in San Diego. And it's important that we address the number one threat to our national security, which is climate
Speaker 9: 06:39 meet Democrats, Sarah Jacobs, her approach, listen to everyone. Take the best ideas, do the work. She did that at Obama's state department.
Speaker 8: 06:47 Jacob's unsuccessfully ran for the 49th congressional seat in 2016 she's also worked as an advocate to end childhood poverty. Here are the issues she says voters in the district care most about.
Speaker 10: 06:57 One is climate change and the urgent threat that it poses. Uh, especially from young people who are very concerned about the world, but they're going to be living in. Another is gun violence. I can't tell you how many young people and parents I've talked to who are so afraid to send their kids to school every single day. And then of course, we know here in San Diego we have a crisis of the cost of living, um, both in housing and in healthcare
Speaker 8: 07:21 if elected. Jacob says she'll take a leadership role in shaping the nation's foreign policy.
Speaker 10: 07:25 Really looking at how we can make sure that we are making the world more peaceful and keeping American safe. And I think there's a way to do that without getting us into endless Wars without us being the world's policemen. Another issue, uh, that we hear a lot from voters and that I'm very passionate about is affordable childcare. I think we need to set on national goal that no family pays more than 10% of their income on childcare.
Speaker 11: 07:49 I'm honest, I haven't Tegrity and they have character.
Speaker 8: 07:52 One of the few Republican candidates in the race is famela Ramos who recently lost a bid for a school board seat in Chula Vista. She's worked as a nurse and in the hospitality industry. These are the issues. She says voters are talking to her about
Speaker 11: 08:03 bread and butter issues, jobs, taxes, things like that. Family, family values. I think, you know, I feel in this district that I'm underrepresented, especially in family values.
Speaker 8: 08:16 She has a number of priorities. If elected,
Speaker 11: 08:17 I want to address immigration, border security, healthcare and education. I really think the health, um, third party should be left out of the decision making process. It should be like patient doctor interaction. I think we should base healthcare costs on the free market. I think prices should be transparent.
Speaker 7: 08:35 I will never forget the issues that people would live and for single date because that's what I come from.
Speaker 8: 08:41 Democratic candidate, Georgette Gomez is currently the San Diego city council president. She's grabbed endorsements from the state, democratic party and labor and healthcare unions. Here are the issues. She says voters want her to fight for housing. Affordability is a major issue. Education,
Speaker 10: 08:56 access to better education. Job safety is important. Um, we do have a district that is a majority working class district. Gomez priorities include helping people get into a home they can actually afford. The resources that we get from our, from a department of housing is not enough. Uh, we have a section eight, uh, lists waiting lists that is over 10 years. So we need to reform that. We need to ensure that we're prioritizing climate, that the cities are moving forward with their climate action plan. That's going to take resources. The 53rd is one of the blues
Speaker 8: 09:30 districts in San Diego County with Democrats outnumbering Republicans by about a two to one margin. Matt Hoffman, KPBS news.
Speaker 1: 09:46 Tomorrow. Primary voters will be selecting the top two candidates for San Diego mayor. Our next reports profile, the major candidates in the race. First up to Democrats, state assemblyman, Todd, Gloria and San Diego city council woman, Barbara Bray. Here's KPBS Metro reporter Andrew Bowen.
Speaker 12: 10:05 Hello Hillcrest.
Speaker 8: 10:06 It's a Saturday morning and Todd Gloria is speaking at the ribbon cutting of San Diego's first rainbow
Speaker 12: 10:13 crosswalk. You know, I was once accused of liking infrastructure too much. You know, I say there's nothing sexier than a freshly paved street. I love seeing hundreds of people show up for a crosswalk dedication. It says I'm not alone and wanting some quality infrastructure in this city.
Speaker 8: 10:27 Gloria is eight years on the city council and three years in the state assembly has made in the familiar figure in San Diego and he's especially popular here in Hillcrest. Gloria, who's openly gay, it says he's proud to have passed laws protecting the LGBTQ community and increasing access to treatment for HIV.
Speaker 13: 10:45 This is the kind of perspective that lived experience becomes really important for. Um, and those are the kinds of things that you know, makes me think that if I wasn't there, maybe those issues wouldn't have been brought up. Maybe there wouldn't be a champion for that.
Speaker 8: 10:55 Gloria says he's also proud to have pushed for more state funding to combat homelessness. Andy touts his successful effort to raise the city's minimum wage as a boon for thousands of low income workers. Now he says San Diego has to address its housing crisis and the mayor has to take a leadership role in winning over skeptics of new development.
Speaker 13: 11:16 I recognize that there are a lot of people who are suffering and they want a mayor who sees here's them is going to act on their behalf, but importantly, who's going to go out and explain to other people that this is not bad for you, this can actually help make your community better. This can make your quality of life better.
Speaker 8: 11:29 Gloria has built a coalition of supporters that rarely get behind the same candidate. He's been endorsed by the County democratic party and the San Diego and Imperial counties labor council as well as the San Diego regional chamber of commerce, which historically backs Republicans. Overcoming that institutional backing is the main challenge facing Barbara. Brie is speaking a meet and greet in
Speaker 14: 11:54 North park. It's hosted by a pair of residents leading the opposition to a plan to put bike lanes on 30th street. I mean there is no accountability and no transparency at city hall. Um, the decision on the bike lanes was made without adequate data and without adequate communication with the residents and the business owners who were going to be most impacted.
Speaker 8: 12:16 Ray had a career in journalism and business before winning a seat on the San Diego city council in 2016 she represents district one which includes the LA Jolla university city and Carmel Valley. Bria says her proudest accomplishment on the council is her work to oppose soccer city. That was the failed 2018 ballot measure that would have sold the city's mission Valley stadium property to private investors for development.
Speaker 10: 12:40 And at the beginning I was out there all by myself and soccer city. Spent tens of thousands of dollars on social media criticizing my position and alleging that I was a corrupt politician, but I never wavered. I knew it was a terrible deal for the taxpayers, for the residents of this city. For the longterm.
Speaker 8: 13:00 [inaudible] says she supports building more housing, but that it wouldn't be the main approach to how she addresses homelessness.
Speaker 10: 13:06 If we're going to effectively address homelessness, we have to acknowledge that a lot of the increase in homelessness is due to mental health and substance abuse issues, which is accounting issue, which the County has neglected for decades and is finally starting to address.
Speaker 8: 13:24 Bree has also attacked the yes in my backyard or UMB movement, which pushes for cities to build more housing. She says they're ponds of wall street investors looking to corporatize San Diego's neighborhoods and the local UMB democratic club, which endorsed Gloria.
Speaker 10: 13:41 I think they are backed by wall street whether they know it or not.
Speaker 8: 13:44 These aren't the only candidates for San Diego mayor. Tune in an hour from now to hear about candidates. Tasha Williamson and Scott Sherman, the top two vote getters in the March 3rd primary will compete in a November runoff. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news,
Speaker 6: 13:59 you just heard about two of the candidates in the 2020 San Diego mayor's race. Now KPBS reporter Claire teargas or we'll introduce you to two more. Starting with activist Tasha Williamson and then a profile of the only Republican in the race, San Diego city Councilman Scott Sherman.
Speaker 11: 14:15 When I first heard her voice, I was like, Oh, okay. And then she, you know, she says, this is like a, a good call that I'm making
Speaker 6: 14:24 call from the San Diego city clerk's office isn't usually a cause for dread, but it was for mayoral candidate Tasha Williamson a few weeks ago. Williamson was genuinely worried she hadn't qualified for the ballot
Speaker 11: 14:37 and I want to let you know that you met, uh, the 200 signature requirement and I just started screaming.
Speaker 8: 14:45 Okay?
Speaker 6: 14:46 Yes. Williamson is not a seasoned politician. She doesn't even a working website and she doesn't have deep pocketed supporters. Her campaign has raised just $675, but Williamson does have a voice in the community. She organized protests after Earl McNeil died in national city police custody. She says there was no one who looked like her in the San Diego mayor's race. No one who cared about her community of Southeast San Diego. So she jumped in.
Speaker 11: 15:20 There's some people that have been so, um, you know, so erased, um, from politic politics. Um, they've not been given the opportunities to have, you know, successes have all the things that they need. Um, they've D invested in communities like the one we're sitting in.
Speaker 6: 15:40 Williamson met us at the Willie Henderson park in the Lincoln park neighborhood and says it's cracked walkways and homeless population show. Her community has been ignored. If elected, she would focus on diverting money to housing, homelessness and other community services.
Speaker 11: 15:57 You know, I'm bringing in a whole new tone, um, to, to this, uh, political landscape and that, um, I'm doing things that have never been done before. Uh, but the one thing that I'm going to be saying that we're going to be doing is giving back to the people and nobody's talking about that.
Speaker 6: 16:14 Someone else who wants to bring up things other candidates aren't talking about is Councilman Scott Sherman. He's the lone Republican in the race. Sherman has long been known for his disdain for public office. He had a countdown clock on his desk marking the days until the end of his term and frequently said he wasn't a politician, but he's having trouble saying that these days I'm getting close to graduating to Vienna, a politician officially, you know, 25 years in the business world. I still think like a businessman, but seven years in this I, by definition I think I'm getting to be a politician now. Sherman waited until right before the deadline to make the decision to run with buy-in from his wife after conversing about it over a nice camping weekend in the desert. We, we decided to, you know, we, we, we kind of need to give this a shot.
Speaker 6: 17:05 If elected Sherman's biggest issue would be housing, specifically middle market housing. And what happens is is you have people in subsidized housing, they start doing better and moving their way up the economic ladder and there's no place for them to go. He'd build more housing by adding density bonuses and changing zoning like he did in Grandville and his district. He also says the city needs to be tougher on homelessness, were doing a bunch on compassion and we're starting to not do as much on the enforcement side. And a lot of times compassion without enforcement just becomes enabling. He also wants to reduce labor unions power at city hall using collective bargaining and is not a of bike lane.
Speaker 15: 17:50 The majority of us have to have a vehicle to do our daily functioning. I mean we it even at council you see the council members talking about the need to bike to work, the need for mass transit and people utilizing mass transit. And then you walk out in the parking lot and there's nine parking spaces for every council district and everyone's filled up with a car.
Speaker 6: 18:09 Sherman will be pushing the conservative ideas up until primary election day in March. Claire Tyga, sir KPBS news, the top two vote getters and the primary will go to a November runoff measure. C on the city of San Diego ballot would raise hotel taxes to pay for a major convention center expansion, paved local roads and fight homelessness, but it will have to get a two thirds approval from voters to do it. Here's KPBS reporter Eric Anderson.
Speaker 15: 18:39 The yes on measure C kickoff event happened across the street from the San Diego convention center last December.
Speaker 15: 18:47 Tourism officials, politicians, and union workers hailed the potential economic windfall of a new hotel tourist tax that could raise billions. The money would go for convention center expansion, homeless programs and street repairs. I've been involved in a lot of campaigns and ballot measures. I have never seen a more diverse and stronger coalition that cuts across all portions of San Diego because we need this funding source. Kevin Faulkner is the mayor of San Diego and a big backer of the initiative. We need a permanent source of funding for homeless services. We need to expand our convention center and the dollars. This will mean for road improvement. These are the issues that San Diego has care about. Faulkner has long pushed for a convention center expansion, but several attempts to make it happen in recent years have failed. Just getting this measure on the ballot stumbled two years ago when the first petition drive didn't collect enough valid signatures.
Speaker 15: 19:40 Faulkner says, the city deserves this redo. It's the first time that it's actually going to be on the ballot, and I think that's why you're seeing so much enthusiasm. Measure C asks voters to boost the city's hotel room tax between one and a quarter to three and a quarter percent depending on how close the hotel is to the convention center, which is a tax that visitors pay when they come to stay in San Diego and they stay in one of our hotels. Carol Kim sits on the convention center board and works for the building and construction trades council. She says the tax hike would raise more than $6 billion over the next four decades and the tax hike doesn't expire. But telling voters up front, we're saying we're not just going to raise this tax and let anybody do what they want with it. We're going to raise this tax and spend it specifically on three things to be specific buckets, the convention center, expansion, homelessness, streets and roads, but that plan doesn't sit well with everyone. Community advocate, Donna Frye says people have to remember they're voting on a new tax and they're getting only limited input on where the money will go. If you had a billion in new tax
Speaker 10: 20:48 revenue, do you think the best use of that would be to expand a convention center or do you think that it should be used for other purposes?
Speaker 15: 20:59 Fry says people should not be misled. The bulk of the money raised by the hotel tax, 59% will pay for the convention center expansion and then the operation of the facility. Fry says that's a huge tax subsidy.
Speaker 10: 21:13 What they've done is they've tried to combine it. The hotel guys have tried to combine it with homelessness and roads and make it sound like it's really for homeless people and for roads. When there is no guarantee, there is absolutely nothing in the measure that says any housing mobile built for the homeless.
Speaker 15: 21:31 The measure doesn't outline how any of the money raised for homelessness will be spent. Instead it relies on the city council to decide whether it will fund services or housing or some combination of the two. San Diego tax fighters founder Richard rider says San Diego already has too many taxes on the books and he's not a fan of bundling issues together. Lovey attacks, what the voters decide on that tax based on what it is being used for. If we're going to have a separate tax for the homeless, okay, put a separate tax for the homeless on the ballot. Don't try to fool people into thinking this will pay for everything. Writer says the tax will create billions in new revenue for the city, but he worries city officials are playing a shell game by creating dedicated revenue streams for the convention center. Homelessness and road repair. The city frees up general fund money. We spend a tremendous and ever increasing amount of our money on pensions, so when we spend more money on on the homeless here, it frees up money for what government's number one priority is, which is paying for the pensions and retiree healthcare. Because measure C is a dedicated tax increase. The ballot measure needs a two thirds majority vote to pass. If approved, the initiative would raise the hotel tax rate and allow the city to borrow money for the convention center expansion. Eric Anderson KPBS news,
Speaker 6: 22:56 this is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Cavanagh and I'm Jade Hindman. The March, 2020 primary election is tomorrow and today we've got information to get you ready to cast your ballot. One race may cause a historic shift on the San Diego County board of supervisors. KPBS reporter Steve Walsh says, incumbent Republican Kristin gas bar faces two democratic challengers in a rapidly changing district. The third district runs up the coast from Solana beach to Encinitas and up to 15 all the way from the eight to the ones reliably Republican Escondido. That's a wonderful place to grow up to live. Robin Fox runs the Escondido history center. That's really changed over the years. But um, for many years it was really a small town. The one small farm town is now an expanding community.
Speaker 16: 23:46 As of December, Escondido had a thousand more registered Democrats than Republicans making it still the most competitive community in the third district. The district itself has seen as the best chance for Republicans to continue their generation. Long control of the County board of supervisors. It run made more difficult by the changing demographics of San Diego County. Kristen gas bar is the Republican incumbent. She declined to participate in KPBS. His piece on the third district race gas bar is a business woman. Four years ago, she defeated the democratic incumbent. Then she ran for the congressional seat held by Daryl Leisa. She lost during the last four years. Gas bar has taken stances that may seem out of step with her district. She appeared at a white house event last year with president Trump supporting expanding the border wall and voting to support the president's lawsuit against California's law limiting cooperation with federal immigration authorities. There are two Democrats, challenging gas bar, Olga Diaz and Terra Lawson. Riemer Diaz was the first Latina elected to the Escondido city council. She laid out her top three priorities.
Speaker 10: 24:56 The three things that have resonated in this campaign have been, uh, solving homelessness, chronic homelessness. I wonder, work on that. Climate change. We really need to overhaul our climate action plan to meet greenhouse gas emission standards and, uh, housing in general. Um, we talked about affordable housing. We never really talked about high end housing. That end of the market takes care of itself, but creating opportunity for entry level or workforce housing,
Speaker 16: 25:20 DIA says solving homelessness isn't necessarily about finding more money,
Speaker 10: 25:24 maybe more money. We have a large surplus, but also a reevaluation of how we're spending the money. Now to focus on the core values and solutions. I really believe we need more social workers with a reasonable caseload. Uh, imagine if you had to help two or three or 400 people.
Speaker 16: 25:40 Diaz also wants to modernize County services in part to encourage developers to build in more dense urban areas. Lawson reamer is an economist and former member of the Obama administration. She founded the flip, the 49th campaign that ended with Democrat. Mike Levin being elected to Congress. This is her first time running for office herself.
Speaker 17: 26:00 I believe that we should be at the forefront with a bold climate action plan that is the best in the country, maybe the best in the world, that we should be leading the charge on that and not chasing our tails. Um, and certainly not paying out a taxpayer money to do nothing. I think we need to take bold action to protect our beaches and our coastlines, which is part of what makes San Diego such a special place to live and raise a family. Um, we have to take bold action on affordable housing. We need to tackle our traffic and congestion crisis and the urban sprawl that has led to people spending so many of their own hours idling and traffic.
Speaker 16: 26:36 The county's climate action plan has been challenged repeatedly in court. Lawson reamers more aggressive approach includes requiring developers to have any carbon offset be inside San Diego County rather than buying credits from anywhere in the world and on homelessness lost in reamer wants to target services where people live.
Speaker 17: 26:56 I definitely think we need a housing first approach with wraparound services, so that does mean more beds and it doesn't mean more shelter beds, but more than anything it means making sure that when we have shelters, including those that already exist, we're providing really accessible services for homeless, our homeless population to get the support that they need to get back on their feet.
Speaker 16: 27:15 The top two vote getters in the March primary move on to the general election. Steve Walsh KPBS news,
Speaker 1: 27:22 housing development in San Diego's back country is the main feature of the next two issues on the ballot. KPBS reporter Eric Anderson says measure a would require a countywide vote for projects that currently only require the approval of supervisors
Speaker 15: 27:38 the Burj with the organization grow. The San Diego way stands next to a busy construction site in Valley center and right here is a project called park circle. It's a project he likes and it's on the site of an old dairy developer. Touchstone communities is building 630 homes here without the need for a special exemption from the County board of supervisors. That's because this land is zoned to build houses. This project is inside the county's plan for development in the area because it's located next to this Valley center road, which is a major through fair and it makes it easily accessible to services. The County spent years with stakeholders hashing out a development plan that clusters new housing near villages, services and jobs to provide a blueprint for growth. But since the general plan was adopted, supervisors are still approving large back-country developments in isolated rural areas where those amenities are sparked.
Speaker 17: 28:34 New one, Sierra lilac Hills ranch, volley Yano, harmony Grove village South. Oh Tai.
Speaker 15: 28:39 Susan Baldwin is a retired urban planner and president for San Diegans for managed growth. She says the County shouldn't turn its back on a development blueprint. That was eight years in the making and got input from everyone.
Speaker 17: 28:53 The business interests, the building industry, community members environmentalist's and so if the plan needs to be changed, then there should be an over uh, you know, uh, uh, review of the plan as a whole, not individual projects being approved in a piecemeal fashion.
Speaker 1: 29:13 The building industry, you know, they do a lot of great stuff, but when it comes to the sprawl projects and the, the ones that don't comply with the general plan, they really have their finger on this.
Speaker 15: 29:23 The bird says getting approval for a housing project outside the general plan guidelines is relatively easy. Developers only need to convince three supervisors and the public doesn't have input that would change if voters support measure a called the save our San Diego countryside initiative. Developers working on a project larger than six homes would have to put it up for a countywide vote if it's outside the general plan guidelines. Supporters say that makes the process more fair. Opponents launched their campaign against the measure late last year. Tonya Castaneda represents the no on the SOS initiative campaign.
Speaker 5: 30:02 Well, the SOS initiative is fundamentally an anti housing and anti-growth measure and it's it's ballot box planning at its worst.
Speaker 15: 30:09 Casta NEDA brought together labor leaders, first responders and politicians to speak out against the measure. What it's gonna do is it's gonna add a whole new regulatory layer to try to get any new home building happening in our County. The no on measure. A effort is funded largely by the counties building industry association, which doesn't want the current system change. What it really is ultimately is an anti economy initiative. Gary London is a real estate economist volunteering with the no on measure a campaign. He says the current system works just fine because informed supervisors make informed decisions on amendments that are vetted by County staffers.
Speaker 5: 30:47 There's always compromises that are made in terms of the number of housing units or the type of housing or what infrastructure should be provided or, or how, what kind of roads should be provided, what kind of fire safety should be provided. All that is properly vetted within our representative system.
Speaker 15: 31:03 London is not confident. Voters will do the same. The demand for housing contributes to the region's soaring home prices prices which make housing unaffordable for most San Diego County residents.
Speaker 5: 31:15 Just by virtue of building more housing. By having more supply against the backdrop of large demand, you're going to um, have an impact on the bid of, of pricing in the County.
Speaker 15: 31:31 A yes vote on measure eight is a vote to require a public vote for general plan amendments that increase housing density on rural or semi-rural lands. The measure passes if it gets more than 50% of the vote in March, Eric Anderson KPBS news,
Speaker 1: 31:47 the focus of measure B is on one proposed development already approved by the County. Now voters will decide if that development Newland Sierra in the North County, we'll move forward. Here's KPBS reporter Eric Anderson.
Speaker 15: 32:01 Newland Sierra developers want to build 2100 homes, retail space, trails, parks, and set aside some open space. Near interstate 15 County officials approved the project, but opponents forced the measure on the March ballot measure. Be spokesman Kenneth Morris says the County needs the development. San Diego is suffering from a severe housing crisis. More says the project is being opposed by the owners of the golden door, a luxury resort near the project. We can't let narrow special interest of a $10,000 a week luxury spa take precedence over creating affordably priced housing for working families. Not so says the opposition to measure B. cliff says developers took advantage of the system.
Speaker 7: 32:42 They got cheap land because this project wasn't supposed to be there and they're going to up zone it and they're going to make go borrow $1 billion.
Speaker 15: 32:48 County voters will decide for the first time whether they agree with the board of supervisors which approved the general plan amendment, allowing the project to move ahead.
Speaker 7: 32:57 This is the people of San Diego scene. We've had enough of these sprawl developments.
Speaker 15: 33:02 A yes vote on measure B allows the project to be built. A no vote overturns the supervisor's approval. Eric Anderson KPBS news.
Speaker 6: 33:12 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Cavanagh and I'm Jade Hindman. Today we're looking at some of the issues and candidates on tomorrow's March 3rd primary election ballot. The San Diego County board of supervisors has long been a conservative body with a tight grip on millions of dollars in reserve funds, but at least one of the four red seats is sent to turn blue this election. KPBS reporter Taryn Mintos says democratic candidates in San Diego, South Bay are raising nearly a million dollars to win the seat in district one and maybe tap into the saved up dollars.
Speaker 18: 33:46 The birds and squirrels on San Diego side of the Tijuana river are soaked with Mexico's polluted water. Nearly every time it rains, the flow brings trash closes. Beaches and County supervisor candidate Rafael Casta Yanos says, residents are sick of it. We're getting dumped on literally in South San Diego County can't stay. Yanos is campaigning to change that. He's one of the three leading democratic candidates. Jaslyn to replace the current Republican supervisor who was terming out after more than 20 years. Cast INO says a top priority will be curbing the cross border sewage that has made federal employees sick. It's the biggest ongoing, uh, water quality and environmental justice issue in the entire country. And it's happening right here in South San Diego County. The real estate attorney wants to spend County reserve funds to begin development on sewage control projects. That officials have already identified. The County can just move forward with those projects and can seek reimbursement from the federal government, including in court if necessary. He wants the County to Sue the federal government by joining lawsuits that have been filed by local cities, the state and the San Diego unified port district where he's a commissioner. His opponent, Nora Vargas says diplomacy is better for that problem and resources should be focused elsewhere.
Speaker 7: 35:04 What we need are the basic resources that our communities need to be able to provide health.
Speaker 18: 35:09 South Bay communities have some of the worst healthcare access in the state. Varga says she has personal experience with this problem. She says her mom was denied Medicaid while battling cancer before the affordable care act was approved.
Speaker 7: 35:23 That feeling of hopelessness, I never want anybody else to feel
Speaker 18: 35:26 the former planned Parenthood executive and president of Southwestern community colleges. Governing board says she's looking at using reserve funds to better support community health groups and expand outreach to enroll more people in public programs.
Speaker 5: 35:40 I've done this work and I know that when people from our communities are out there sharing what resources are available, people will make sure that they have access to them.
Speaker 18: 35:48 Costa Yano says he too wants to boost enrollment in public programs that bring reimbursements and he also plans to tap reserves to add more staff. To do that work,
Speaker 19: 35:57 we need to prioritize this in the budget and that really comes down to making sure that we have the right number of people, that they're not burnt out, that they're properly staffed.
Speaker 18: 36:06 And while Casta Yanos is focused on water pollution, Vargas says she's looking at air quality,
Speaker 5: 36:11 try to get more people out of their cars, but we can't do that unless we have better transportation, right? We have to make sure that we create initiatives like I really do believe that everybody should be able to ride a bus for free,
Speaker 18: 36:22 both concerned about the housing problem that exists County wide. Gus Miyanos put forth a four point plan that calls for cutting regulatory hurdles and includes a $1 billion bond to offset infrastructure costs that he says developers pass on to buyers and renters.
Speaker 19: 36:37 Based on my experience as a land use in real estate and finance, attorney
Speaker 18: 36:42 Fargus hasn't proposed a formal plan, but says she supports building more homes and wants to help keep people in the ones they already have.
Speaker 5: 36:48 And I think the County can create a tenant rights, a part of their housing authority, creating a tenant rights, uh, advocacy piece.
Speaker 18: 36:55 The other leading candidate is state Senator Ben waySo. He canceled an interview with KPBS and did not respond to follow what messages, but he told the San Diego union Tribune editorial board that quality of life was San Diego's biggest issue.
Speaker 20: 37:09 We need the leadership good government to represent the interests of the people locally. What do they want? They want to have clean beaches. They want to have jobs.
Speaker 18: 37:17 Wait, so is second in the money race. He raised just over 200,000 while cast Yanos raised 450,000 Vargas his third with around 150,000 but she still has a few more days to file details of additional contributions. The three were invited to a forum next week, but waySo declined gusta Yanos and Vargas will be joined at the forum by a fourth Democrat Sophia Rodriguez, who has received about $7,000 in contributions. Taryn mento KPBS news
Speaker 1: 37:46 one County Republican who received nearly $2,000 from the County party was enabled to provide an interview for this story by deadline. The Chula Vista elementary school district is proposing to raise property taxes to help subsidize housing for teachers and staff. KPBS education reporter Joe Hong explains how the bond measure would work and how other districts across the state have tried to cover living costs for their employees.
Speaker 20: 38:12 That's California school boards and superintendents are lamenting the lack of funding from the state, declining enrollment, rising pension costs, and more students receiving special education services have tightened budgets statewide and as housing costs continue to rise in California, one school district could be the first in San Diego County to house its employees. Chula Vista elementary school district is asking voters to raise local taxes to build a 100 unit affordable housing complex and subsidized rent for teachers and staff. Oscar ask avail oversees the district's finances. He said a school bond could help the district recruit and keep employees.
Speaker 21: 38:49 It's, it's a result of this survey but also a result of, uh, the school districts need to, um, incentivize coming to children's to elementary school district for those positions that we have a difficult time hiring. For example, special education, English language learners,
Speaker 20: 39:04 measure M on the March ballot, the district is proposing a $300 million bond. Most of it would go to school repairs and modernization, but $65 million would go to affordable housing units for teachers and staff. Escoval said investing in these facilities is an investment in students.
Speaker 21: 39:20 They are important. I've been here for almost 20 years now and we were one of the first school districts who have completely air conditioned all our schools classrooms. So it was a priority to make sure students are comfortable in the learning environment.
Speaker 20: 39:36 Chula Vista elementary school district employs more than 2,500 teachers and staff teacher salaries range from about $50,000 to just over a hundred thousand dollars a year. Susan scholar is the president of the teacher's union that Chula Vista elementary school district. She said the union supports the bond over all, but it has concerns about district employees living in the same housing complex,
Speaker 10: 39:58 you know, I mean here we are, we're good friends and then all of a sudden maybe I'm up late at night playing my music too loud and then you know, that goes to work with me or you know, it's another issue with another employee at a different site and I just see potential for complications.
Speaker 20: 40:20 The bond measure would raise property taxes by up to $30 for every a hundred thousand dollars of property value. The San Diego County taxpayers association, which review school bonds throughout the County did not endorse the measure. Kelly Baton is the director of policy at the association. She said the teacher housing component was the only thing holding me association back from endorsement. She said the district didn't provide enough details on how the money would be spent and how the housing complex would be maintained.
Speaker 10: 40:48 When we look at bonds, we, if a district isn't specific on how they're going to use it, we tend to not support those because we want the voters to be aware and you know, be educated on exactly how those funds are going to be spent.
Speaker 20: 41:01 But Chulavista isn't the first district in California to tackle affordable housing with a bond. Jefferson union high school district, just South of San Francisco is breaking ground this week on their employee housing unit, which is being funded with a bond measure that passed in 2018 school board president Kalema Salahudin said that 122 unit housing complex will help, but she called it a bandaid to the problem of recruiting and keeping teachers. She said the state needs to take education funding seriously for a more permanent solution board to become a housing developer.
Speaker 22: 41:34 You know, that was never my intention or goal. Um, and to me it's just a reflection of where we are in the state when it comes to education that school boards are looking to have to do this in order to keep the staff that we need to educate our students.
Speaker 20: 41:48 Measure M needs 55% of the votes to pass Chula Vista voters decide on March 3rd Joe Hong KPBS news.
Speaker 1: 41:56 And finally there's a statewide school bond measure proposition 13 it asks voters to support a $15 billion bond measure to renovate schools and universities across the state. Once again, here's KPBS education reporter Joe Hong.
Speaker 20: 42:11 If voters pass proposition 13 school districts and colleges could apply for state bonds that would match local bonds and those districts could face higher property taxes in order to repay that money. The neediest schools and districts would get priority lead. Doug Roth is chief of construction planning for San Diego unified. He says if proposition 13 passes, the district could be eligible for up to 200 million more dollars in state funds.
Speaker 5: 42:35 Both the state government as well as the local school districts across the state are responsible for providing the high quality education facilities. And, and you know, as you can imagine, there are a lot of facilities across the state, um, that over time receive wear and tear
Speaker 20: 42:53 every election. The San Diego County taxpayers association announces its endorsements for local bonds association. CEO Haney Hong said, if the statewide bond passes, it's the local school districts. I need to be held responsible,
Speaker 5: 43:06 you know, whatever matching grants a school district might get from this bill. Uh, we will look at that district's program and we want to make sure that the taxpayer gets the performance that we deserve.
Speaker 20: 43:18 Statewide measures require more than 50% of the votes pass. Joe Hong K PBS news
Speaker 1: 43:24 for all our election coverage. Go to kpbs.org/election and don't forget to check out the KPBS voter guide. It has information on your polling location and where the candidates stand on unimportant issues.
As Super Tuesday nears, here’s a look at the key San Diego issues and races on the March primary election ballot. In the 50th Congressional District, for the first time in four decades, someone named Duncan Hunter is not on the ballot. The race became a slugfest for Republicans hoping to keep the district red after Duncan D. Hunter resigned in January. For the Democrats, Congresswoman Susan Davis’ retirement brings uncertainty to the 53rd District. In the San Diego mayor’s race, San Diegans could potentially choose between two Democrats in the general election. That's because the top two vote-getters in the March primary will advance to the November election, and three of the five candidates are Democrats. Plus, Convention Center expansion supporters are, once again, pushing for an increase in the hotel tax to pay for the project, homeless services and road repairs. In the county supervisor races, one contest may cause a historic shift on the board and turn it blue. Also, the Chula Vista Elementary School District is proposing to raise property taxes to modernize classrooms and build a 100-unit affordable housing complex for teachers and staff. Finally, Proposition 13, the only state-wide measure on the ballot, asks voters to approve $15 billion in state bonds to renovate schools and universities.