Hosing Off at the Depot, MLS Lining Up for Measure E and Housing for Us All: San Diego Summarized | 10-22-18
Welcome to San Diego Summarized where each week we examine headlines from around the city:
This week’s summary kicks off with a look at one of the more lively tweets to come across my timeline this past week. KPBS’ Andrew Bowen attended a rally attended by folks arguing against the gas tax that Prop 6 aims to repeal during this November’s election.
“Something from this morning's #YesOn6 rally stuck out to me: the open disdain for policies that encourage climate-friendly transportation,” wrote Bowen, who supplemented his tweets with a few choice clips.
And Diane Harkey: "This is just fraud. It's forcing you to take bikes, get on trains, hose off at the depot and try to get to work. That does not work. That does not work with my hair and heels. I cannot do that and I will not do that." pic.twitter.com/ITsIUSbje8— 👻ndrew B🎃wen (@acbowen) October 17, 2018
Diane Harkey’s open disdain for public transportation in particular reeks of snobbery personified. It’s really sad actually. Not only is public transportation incredibly important for several thousand San Diegans to get to school or work on a day to day basis, its also massively important for the trajectory of San Diego’s climate goals in the long run.
I sat down with Sophie Wolfram, the director of programs at the Climate Action Campaign late last week for a chat about what the organization responsible for the existence of the Climate Action Plan has been up to in recent months.
While the focus of our conversation revolved around much more than the gas tax, one recurring theme in the challenges faced by climate activists is the attitude displayed by Harkey and co with respect to the reality that scientists around the world have acknowledged, identified and articulated solutions for.
Will the gas tax’s existence do away with global climate change? Probably not alone. However, invoking the sacred sanctity of her (really quite terrible hair) while eschewing a service that is vital for so many today and is important for us all in the grand scheme of things is foolhardy at best, irresponsible certainly and is realistically just plain cringeworthy.
Speaking of cringeworthy, over the course of the last few months, the architects of the Measure G initiative that has been propped up by opponents of Measure E’s SoccerCity plan have increasingly asserted that their plan will bring Major League Soccer to San Diego just as easily as SoccerCity, nay better than SoccerCity.
“When you get past laughing at that statement, you realize that MLS will not come to San Diego with Measure G. MLS will 100% come to San Diego with Measure E,” said SoccerCity’s Landon Donovan a few weeks back.
This past weekend, the league itself made the most direct statement to date on the San Diego MLS expansion situation.
For a number of different reasons, contending that Measure G somehow does the soccer stuff better than the soccer thing is simply ridiculous. While there may be opportunities for lower level professional soccer like the Division 2 United Soccer League or the potentially Division 3 National Independent Soccer Association, within the proposed SDSU West stadium, Major League Soccer is head, shoulder, knees and toes apart from those other theortical options.
We discussed the two stadium options in detail on the latest Kept Faith United Podcast, with guests Drew Steck from the Original Supporters Group of SoccerCity and the San Diego Stadium Coalitions Jason Riggs.
Rounding out what was an excellent week, outgoing San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts supplied the world with some quotes.
Voice of San Diego’s Politics Report summarized an exchange between Roberts and John Brady:
Last Wednesday, after hearing yet another call for the county to do more to address homelessness, County Supervisor Ron Roberts decided he’d had enough.
“Can I respond to that? I’m just about ready to jump out of my seat cause that is pure baloney,” Roberts said at a board meeting.
The latest critic was John Brady of the Voices of Our City Choir, a group of homeless and formerly homeless San Diegans. Brady once lived on the street himself. Now he was standing before Roberts and other supervisors to comment on a county report on improving housing affordability.
When Brady mentioned the county’s response to homelessness, it hit Roberts’ last nerve.
Critical feedback from residents is not unusual at supervisors meetings — but Roberts’ reaction was. He repeatedly waved his index finger at Brady and raised his voice when Brady cut in or tried to apologize. Finally, after Roberts lectured Brady for more than a minute, board Chair Kristin Gaspar felt compelled to step in – she urged Roberts to allow Brady to sit down.
Roberts’ blowup likely wasn’t just about Brady. In the hours before the meeting, Mayor Kevin Faulconer had urged the county to redouble its mental-health efforts. And for months, political candidates and Democrats have more harshly denounced the county’s response to mental-health and homelessness.
Roberts’ reaction explains the politics surrounding the heated battle to replace him. Roberts has represented the district that covers much of the city of San Diego for nearly 25 years.To understand Roberts’ reaction, you have to understand the avalanche of criticism the county’s taken the past couple years.
Democrats like Nathan Fletcher, who hopes to replace Roberts on the Board of Supervisors, are essentially running against the county. They are calling for massive overhaul to the county’s long-held approach and essentially, a referendum on policies set by Republicans who have led the county for decades.
“We have a county that hasn’t gotten it done,” Fletcher said at an East Village debate I moderated last week. “There’s been virtually no turnover there for the past two to three decades, and it’s created a culture and a mindset that isn’t holding itself accountable, that isn’t investing the resources, it isn’t driving solutions, it isn’t demanding action and it isn’t taking care of our neighborhoods.”
Democrats, labor leaders and advocates have for years criticized the county for building up its reserve accounts and for not spending enough on social services, particularly efforts to combat homelessness. The homelessness and hepatitis A crises that hit the county the past couple years only fueled more intense criticism.
County officials like Roberts have said they are doing more than ever to try to address those concerns. The county’s mental health budget jumped nearly a quarter this year. Supervisors have also unveiled new programs to aid homeless San Diegans, including the effort Roberts mentioned in his outburst, Project One for All, an effort to house 1,250 homeless San Diegans with serious mental illnesses, though the ambitious initiative has hit some snags along the way.
“I think that (Roberts’) response reflected the frustration of all the focus that he’s put on [homelessness], all the money the county has put in, the true dedication of these staff people who are thinking about this 24/7 and who are out there on the streets,” said Tim McClain, a spokesman for Roberts.
The recent criticism hasn’t just come from Democrats. Republicans like Faulconer and former District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who hopes to beat Fletcher in November, are trying to thread a needle: They don’t think they can directly criticize a county long led by their own party. But they also seem to have concluded that the county must change.
Faulconer, in a string of tweets last week, said “the County MUST take a different approach with mental health” – after praising the county for budgeting hundreds of millions of dollars for mental-health.
And at VOSD’s Politifest earlier this month, the mayor recently said he’d like to see the county help deliver more mental health beds, housing and services.
He joked that the supervisors are “fine” when asked whether Republicans were to blame for not delivering ample mental-health services.
Dumanis has been a little bolder on the campaign trail. She has said reforms are needed and wants to pull $100 million from the county’s ample reserve account each of the next four years to provide loans for low- and middle-income housing projects.
“I want to be the change agent because I’ve been a change agent,” Dumanis said at the debate last week.
But when I asked Dumanis to grade the county’s response to homelessness, she refused.
She’s gone out of her way to avoid directly criticizing county leaders for months.
She told me in May that she thinks she has the knowledge and relationships to successfully push for changes.
“I’ve dealt with the county budgeting over the last 15 years, so I know how to talk to them about it and how to do these programs that some of them had never heard before. I think I can talk to them,” Dumanis said in May. “It’s an old-fashioned idea, but … talking to people in person is really the best approach. They trust me. I think they trust me and they listen to me and we have mutual respect.”
We talked housing policy on the latest Politics in the Pub Podcast, and while housing for the homeless wasn’t central to this particular conversation, the exchange highlighted the sometimes overly-partisan nature of a discussion that affects far too broad a swath of people. There is no silver bullet or single solution, and there’s no time or reason to pat anyone on the back until we’re out of this mess.
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