Gathering around a fire pit with friends and family is part of the San Diego experience. From roasting marshmallows to relaxing on the sand under the night sky, thousands of San Diegans and visitors make memories at our fire pits each year. Thanks to fiscal reforms we achieved at City Hall and to an improving economy, San Diego’s 186 concrete fire pits are not on this year’s chopping block. The lights will not be going out on San Diego beaches.
As the councilmember who is proud to represent Mission Bay, Pacific Beach, Mission Beach and Ocean Beach, my priority is protecting and celebrating San Diego’s beaches and bays for residents, tourists and future generations. I talk with countless San Diegans every year who tell me how important the fire pits are to the beach lifestyle. I completely agree and have always believed we must keep this San Diego tradition alive.
Since 2009, I’ve led a partnership with the community, private donors, the San Diego Foundation, La Jolla Foundation and San Diego Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to raise money for the fire pits in the face of several budget deficits. Our partnership’s yearly success in keeping the fire pits funded yielded a lasting result. Mayor Jerry Sanders will include the $120,500 needed to maintain the fire pits in his new annual budget, which begins July 1.
This victory comes on the heels of the $16.5 million budget surplus announced by Mayor Sanders earlier this month. Having funds to restore library operating hours, hire more police officers and maintain beach fire pits is unquestionably a good thing for our neighborhoods. However, there remains much to do to guard tax dollars, cut red tape and restore more essential city services — especially street repair.
We must cut red tape to improve coordination and communication between city departments. We must increase efficiencies to get repaving projects awarded to contractors. We must direct more funds toward road repair. The City Council took a huge step forward by directing $8 million of the budget surplus to infrastructure repair. That’s the equivalent of paving 16 additional miles of streets.
Citizens rightfully expect tax dollars to be spent on services like these. As we take a moment to enjoy our fire pits victory, we must carry on with reforming city operations. Through leadership and fiscal reform, we will continue to deliver results for our beaches and bays and prioritize services that improve the quality of life for all San Diegans.
— District 2 City Councilman Kevin Faulconer represents Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, Mission Bay and Ocean Beach.