With the news that Todd Gloria has decided to run for State Assembly and not challenge Kevin Faulconer in the 2016 mayoral election, I've decided it's time to step into the void. And here's why.
As best exemplified by the United States Congress, many politicians in this country have adopted a "do nothing" stance, hoping that if they avoid scandal and just don't screw anything up, they can be reelected. Unfortunately, our current mayor appears to have adopted this tactic. He promised to fix the city, but for the most part he hides in City Hall, hoping to avoid making any wrong moves that will create enemies. Rather than being proactive, he is entirely reactive and only responds to events. Being behind the ball is no way for a city to move forward.
I'm here to represent the San Deigans that say satisfaction with the status quo will not qualify someone to be the leader of our fine city. Rather than demonstrating leadership by crafting a plan to keep the Chargers in San Diego, Faulconer's tepid gesture of creating a "task force" to study the issue and absorb the blame looks like it will result in the Chargers leaving San Diego. Instead of standing up for the thousands of San Diegans struggling every day to make ends meet, Falconer vetoed the minimum wage increase. Rather than taking the initiative to combat slumlords, he is spurred into action only after suffering from bad press. This is not leadership we can believe in.
All too often, our city stands by while our best and brightest residents and businesses flee to cities meeting the challenges of the 21st century head on, like Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, and Austin. These cities realize that to succeed, they must compete with every other city that is looking to create jobs. The best, if not only, way to compete is to create livable cities for all. San Diego is blessed with the best climate in the country, amazing residents, and excellent institutions that makes it possible to compete with any other city. I'm confident that with a proactive mayor, we can push San Diego to its rightful place: as a global city known the world over as the best place to live. Not only can we maintain our quality of life, we can improve it and ensure that everyone can enjoy the same high standards we pride ourselves on. Instead of sitting by, San Diego should be leading the charge into the future. Here is how we get there:
- An Inclusive San Diego: Every resident of our city should be able to share in our success. I would immediately push for an increase in the minimum wage to create a truly living wage. Additionally, as long as there are homeless people on the street, it doesn't matter that others are succeeding. Homelessness also reflects a failure of leadership: it's far cheaper to house and care for everyone than it is to let them fend for themselves and end up in the emergency room and jails. With the right plan, we can provide a house and care for every San Diegan. I would push to effectively end homelessness in San Diego within my first term by any means necessary, including securing our fair share of federal funding, building cheap micro units in appropriate locations, and coordinating with local businesses, philanthropists, and non-profits to create innovative solutions to this imminently solvable problem.
- An Affordable San Diego: Although increasing the minimum wage will help, there is much more we can do to help our local families make ends meet. The two largest expenses for most San Diegans are housing and transportation costs. We need to radically drive down the cost of both. I would slash restrictions and exclusionary zoning in the heart of our urban core and along existing transit lines to allow for a rush of new housing. Without harsh regulations (like mandated parking minimums, limits on square footage, and unduly restrictive zoning), truly affordable housing can flourish. This new supply will help drive down prices. By focusing growth in the urban core, we can provide walkable, bikeable neighborhoods while maintaining the qualities of our suburbs that some enjoy. By replacing a daily car drive through traffic with a pleasant stroll down a welcoming street, our residents will be able to save on transportation costs.
- A Green San Diego: Our Climate Action Plan calls for lowering our dependence on fossil fuels and increasing the share of residents walking and biking to work. I would reallocate our city's transportation budget to match the share allocated to each transportation share in the Climate Action Plan. Rather than wasting money on freeway and road expansions that create more traffic and unpleasant environments, we should be spending our public dollars on creating a truly useful public transit system and neighborhoods that are safe and pleasant for walking and biking. Also, I would push an initiative to make the entire city government a net-zero energy consumer by placing solar panels on all City buildings, increasing efficiency, and harnessing the knowledge of our world-class universities to drive innovation in energy savings.
-A Safe San Diego: We must adequately fund our police department to ensure that our finest officers stay with the City. The police, however, must realize they work for the public and I would continue the rollout of body cameras and other measures to reduce police abuses. By focusing on smarter policing, we can create a safer city in a more cost-effective method. Additionally, far too many lives are lost due to unsafe road conditions. I would begin a Vision Zero Initiative on my first day in office with the goal of ending all traffic deaths within ten years.
-A Business-Friendly San Diego: It's easy to look at the progressive goals I espouse and conclude that they are "bad for business." But all of these measures are focused on tangible results that will benefit businesses both directly and indirectly. By attracting well-educated millenials to our city, we can ensure our cutting-edge businesses have the workforce they need. By slashing unnecessary red tape, developers and businesses will be able to invest in San Diego in an efficient and predictable manner. Rather than having residents with no money left from their paycheck after paying the mortgage and car loan, lowering these costs will leave residents with extra income to spend at their local small businesses. If done correctly, these initiatives can benefit all, businesses and residents alike.
- A Connected San Diego: It's a truly unimaginative city that provides free trash pickup for homes but doesn't push for free interest for all residents. I would push to bring free, secure gigabit internet connectivity to all residents and businesses. And while Mayor Faulconer should be commended for supporting an open city government, more action needs to be taken to bring all city activities and data onto the internet.
- A Fiscally-Balanced San Diego: Of course, it's easy to promise a new vision, but much harder to fund it. Although it's easy to instinctively reject new taxes, I believe a balanced approach can lead to a better outcome for all residents, rich and poor. With appropriate taxes on our most fortunate residents, we can build a just civilization here in our corner of paradise. If our urban core is radically improved, the tourists that visit these areas should participate in funding its revival by paying a small increase in hotel room taxes.
Of course, I'm not really running for mayor, I am but an internet abstraction unable to be placed on a real-world ballot. But I am saddened by the apparent capitulation by many on the left to a second term of our current do-nothing mayor. If I had to pick one main criticism of San Diego, it is that our collective will is often unable to challenge the status quo. We seem content with spending a day at the beach. I hope someone can step up and show the conviction and vision that will persuade our city to be better.