Mayoral special election: candidate statements
Nov 08, 2013 | 20326 views | 1 1 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
EDITOR’S NOTE: To better inform our readers about the political views of the four most prominent candidates in the Nov. 19 mayoral special election, the San Diego Community Newspaper Group developed a seven-pronged interview for the political hopefuls. The candidates queried were former City Attorney Mike Aguirre; District 8 City Councilman David Alvarez; District 2 City Councilman Kevin Faulconer; and former state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher. Candidate: MIKE AGUIRRE (Former City Attorney) What is the greatest challenge/challenges facing our beach communities and how do you propose addressing this/them? A: Stormwater runoff fouls our beaches and bays every time it rains. New water-quality rules take effect in 2018. It will cost about $2.7 billion to make the upgrades. The city wants to increase homeowners’ monthly stormwater fees by more than 1,000 percent to pay for the upgrades, but the fee increase requires a vote, which will fail. The city will face up to $37,500 in daily fines when there’s runoff into the ocean. I will negotiate with the Regional Water Quality Control Board to phase in implementation of the regulations while increasing investment in storm-drain upgrades.

The homeless situation and the issues/problems associated with them continue to grow seemingly on a daily basis and are pervading nearly every neighborhood in San Diego. How do you propose to resolve the issue? A: Homelessness is a regional issue. The county’s 18 cities and our county government should consolidate, coordinate and share efforts, including churches, nonprofits and other organizations. We can achieve higher efficiencies by working together, as well as pooling scarce resources and obtaining greater amounts of grant funding. In Orange County, funding is being provided through Proposition 10 (1998) that created a tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products to go to early childhood education. In addition, the county developed a “10-Year Plan to End Homelessness.” Participants identified about $4.5 million in additional county funds. We should explore a similar approach.

Medical marijuana dispensaries have been an ongoing controversy for years for the city, law enforcement, the dispensaries and those who believe medical marijuana is of benefit to them. How would you resolve/reconcile this controversy?

A: As a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, I support enforcing the law. In August 2013, the Deputy Attorney General provided “guidance … concerning marijuana enforcement,” which tacitly acknowledges states’ rights to permit and regulate marijuana. Regulations should be drafted that include Department of Justice concerns about preventing distribution to minors, diversion from states where its legal to other states, “drugged driving,” and cultivation, possession or use on federal property. Additionally, local concerns about operation and location should be revisited. However, until there is a commitment from the current U.S. Attorney to not file charges under the Controlled Substances Act, we cannot move forward.

Specifically in the Pacific Beach community, merchants and residents are divided over the issue of the proliferation of alcohol licensing for local pubs. What is your position? A: We must adopt stricter measures for alcohol-serving establishments in the beach area. Instead of discretionary minor-use permits, the city Planning Commission should approve alcohol sales permits for bars, restaurants and liquor stores. Businesses applying for an alcohol-sales permit will be required to complete an operational management plan as a condition for the permit. Failure to comply would result in enforceable actions. Establishments that obtained liquor licenses prior to the new requirement can’t be grandfathered in. Therefore, we would adopt a “deemed-approved” ordinance placing tighter rules on new and old alcohol-serving businesses by establishing performance standards.

In La Jolla, the matter of seals versus human access to beaches rages on year after year in the courts, the Coastal Commission and at the city level. As mayor, what policy would you advocate? A: The city should have prevented the seals from colonizing Casa Beach in the 1990s. Now, the seals have taken over the area. In 2009, legislation permitted the City Council to establish Children’s Pool beach exclusively for use as a marine mammal sanctuary. Federal and state laws support closing the beach from December to May and installing a rope barrier across the beach during summer. There is not much more to be done other than ensuring that the rest of La Jolla’s beaches are protected from seal colonization.

What is the most crucial economic issue facing San Diego today and in the future, and how do you propose addressing this?

A: Budget decisions over the last four fiscal years allocated more money to be spent on 17,000 city retirees’ pensions than the city’s Fire-Rescue Department. The unfunded pension debt is now at $8 billion. It currently costs every San Diego household almost $4,500 a year. On it’s current course, the cost will double within five years. At the same time, our streets are budgeted below current maintenance levels. Our infrastructure needs will cost more than $1 billion. We can’t maintain basic city services if we don’t deal with the pension liability that is draining our general fund budget.

Would you advocate for further expansion of the San Diego International Airport and possibly a second runway? Why or why not? A: The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority has studied expanding the existing runway or adding a second parallel runway and found both options to be infeasible. It would require significant acquisition of surrounding commercial and residential land, approximately 2,000 acres that is made up of just less than 600 acres of commercial industrial, 120 of institutional and 800 acres of residential, with the remainder falling into other categories. The population within the required area of acquisition is 18,600 residents. The technical study identified huge challenges with the concept, including land acquisition, social impacts, environmental impacts and operational concerns.

Candidate: DAVID ALVAREZ (City Councilman, District 8) What is the greatest challenge/challenges facing our beach communities and how do you propose addressing this/them? A: San Diego needs a mayor who will make government work for every neighborhood, including our beach communities. As mayor, I’ll invest in the beach neighborhoods, create jobs, support schools and give everyone the respect and dignity they deserve from their government. Our coastline is one of San Diego’s most incredible resources and my Blueprint for San Diego’s Future includes a vision to ensure our beaches and waterways are clean. I’ll invest in water technology to stop dumping sewage into the ocean and implement low-impact development projects to clean runoff before it gets to the ocean, rivers and bays.

The homeless situation and the issues/problems associated with them continue to grow seemingly on a daily basis and are pervading nearly every neighborhood in San Diego. How do you propose to resolve the issue? A: The city has made strides in providing additional homeless services in recent years. The temporary winter shelter and the recently opened permanent year-round shelter offer wrap-around services aimed at helping homeless towards self-sufficiency. However, these projects are not enough. We must provide year-round services throughout the entire city. As mayor, I’ll put pressure on the county, state, and federal governments to provide more funding for services to the homeless and help with mental health and addiction, as well as providing job training. I’ll also ensure the city invests in more affordable housing to help working families afford a place to live in our city.

Medical marijuana dispensaries have been an ongoing controversy for years for the city, law enforcement, the dispensaries and those who believe medical marijuana is of benefit to them. How would you resolve/reconcile this controversy?

A: Patients with medical conditions requiring medicinal cannabis deserve to have safe access under the law. But we must fairly regulate dispensaries to provide that access while preventing any of our communities from being unfairly overburdened with them. As mayor, I would support a law that regulates and sets clear guidelines and operating standards for dispensaries. This ordinance should also address tax revenue derived from the legal sale of marijuana to provide cost recovery for city inspection and enforcement activities and set penalties for dispensaries that break the law.

Specifically in the Pacific Beach community, merchants and residents are divided over the issue of the proliferation of alcohol licensing for local pubs. What is your position?

A: To address the oversaturation of alcohol licenses in particular communities, I’ll work closely with our police chief to ensure that police department review of alcohol license applications more heavily weights the number of existing licenses in the area. This review will determine the balance of community convenience and necessity for additional licenses. However, the city must be sensitive to the needs and desires of each individual community, as some neighborhoods may desire fewer licenses, while others may be looking to attract new investment through new restaurants or stores, which may need to sell alcohol. I’ll look to our community planning groups for recommendations regarding alcohol licenses.

In La Jolla, the matter of seals versus human access to beaches rages on year after year in the courts, the Coastal Commission and at the city level. As mayor, what policy would you advocate?

A: It is clear to me that the South Casa Beach deserves special protection as a habitat area for the seals that currently exist there, especially during pupping season. As such, I support the city’s current plan to install a rope barrier on Casa Beach during pupping season to protect both seals and people.

What is the most crucial economic issue facing San Diego today and in the future, and how do you propose addressing this?

A: San Diegans need more employment opportunities. Many have suffered during the recession and are out of work or underemployed. Our neighborhoods have been left behind because of a lack of investment and a blurred economic vision that favored only big downtown projects. In my Blueprint for San Diego’s Future, I present a clear vision to support entrepreneurs and small businesses that make up the backbone of our economy. As mayor, I’ll create public-private partnerships to spark neighborhood investment and revitalization, targeting employers in high-growth sectors. I’ll also present a big-picture plan to grow our cross-border economy and build partnerships with Asia.

Would you advocate for further expansion of the San Diego International Airport and possibly a second runway? Why or why not?

A: I currently serve as one of the city representatives on the San Diego Regional Airport Authority where we oversee airport operations and capital improvements. I know that there is simply not enough room for an additional runway at Lindbergh Field. Our best strategy moving forward is to utilize the airport capacity we have there, much more effectively like we’ve done with the Green Build expansion of Terminal 2. This project involved more than 7,000 workers and more than $415 million in contracts awarded to local businesses, while utilizing available space to increase productivity.

Candidate: KEVIN FAULCONER (City Councilman, District 2) What is the greatest challenge/challenges facing our beach communities and how do you propose addressing this/them?

A: The beach communities include some of San Diego’s oldest neighborhoods and, like many urban communities, have significant infrastructure challenges, including needed street and neighborhood repairs. This is because past city leaders prioritized unsustainable pensions over investments in our neighborhoods. As your councilmember, I’ve been proud to work to improve San Diego’s beach and urban communities. As mayor, I will take that approach citywide. I am committed to cutting government waste at City Hall and investing the savings not in unaffordable employee pay, but into rebuilding our streets, water and sewer pipes, streetlights and crumbling sidewalks, boardwalk and seawall.

The homeless situation and the issues/problems associated with them continue to grow seemingly on a daily basis and are pervading nearly every neighborhood in San Diego. How do you propose to resolve the issue? A: I’m proud of the work I’ve done to help solve homelessness in our community, including leading the effort to open the city’s first permanent, year-round homeless service center downtown. It’s more than a shelter — it’s a “one-stop shop” that provides medical care, job training and other rehabilitative services to end the cycle of homelessness. I also helped the Monarch school, which serves homeless students, secure a new location so it can continue to change lives. I remain committed to solving homelessness in our communities and, as mayor, I will work to create policies that achieve this goal.

Medical marijuana dispensaries have been an ongoing controversy for years for the city, law enforcement, the dispensaries and those who believe medical marijuana is of benefit to them. How would you resolve/reconcile this controversy?

A: I believe we need to offer compassionate care to individuals who need treatment, while keeping marijuana dispensaries a safe distance from schools, parks and children. For years, I worked with my City Council colleagues to find a fair and sustainable solution and offered an ordinance that allowed for dispensaries — mostly in industrial zones that don’t impact our neighborhoods. Under the [resigned Mayor Bob] Filner administration, we saw a proliferation of these facilities in our communities due to a lack of regulation. As mayor, I will work for a fair solution that protects our neighborhoods and families.

Specifically in the Pacific Beach community, merchants and residents are divided over the issue of the proliferation of alcohol licensing for local pubs. What is your position?

A: As mayor, I will work with state regulators and the police department to ensure that any establishment that has an alcohol license is acting responsibly. There are many well-run restaurants and bars in the area — the key is full enforcement of the regulations for any establishments that aren’t following the rules. San Diegans will always have a seat at the table in my administration, and I’m committed to working together with beach businesses and neighbors to protect our quality of life.

In La Jolla, the matter of seals versus human access to beaches rages on year after year in the courts, the Coastal Commission and at the city level. As mayor, what policy would you advocate? A: I believe this beach is one of San Diego’s greatest assets, and seals and humans should be able to coexist peacefully. I support closing the beach during pupping season to protect the health and safety of the baby seals. I also support preserving — and improving — public access during other parts of the year.

What is the most crucial economic issue facing San Diego today and in the future, and how do you propose addressing this?

A: The lack of regulatory certainty facing San Diego businesses is harming our ability to grow our economy and create good-paying jobs. We must streamline the permitting process so that businesses can thrive. As mayor, I will update the city’s community plans to stimulate economic development through streamlined review processes and building incentives. I will also fight against tax increases that would negatively impact the expansion of small businesses and cost us jobs. I will continue to work to protect the jobs we have, including in the tourism economy, life-sciences sector and on the working waterfront.

Would you advocate for further expansion of the San Diego International Airport and possibly a second runway? Why or why not?

A: I have strongly opposed the misguided concept of adding a second runway at Lindbergh Field because of the devastating effects it would have on nearby homes and businesses. I would continue that approach as mayor. San Diego’s airport is key to local economic activity. I support improvements to Lindbergh Field, but, unfortunately, the geographical constraints around the airport make additional expansion difficult.

At press time, we did not receive answers to the submitted questions from candidate Nathan Fletcher.

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4RBeaches
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November 09, 2013
Former City Attorney MIKE AGUIRRE

You are completely wrong over Children's Pool.

legislation Did NOT permitted the City Council to establish Children’s Pool beach exclusively for use as a marine mammal sanctuary. legislation ONLY added 1 more use to the trust, "A marine mammal park for the enjoyment and educational benefit of Children". NOT a sanctuary!It did NOT give the City discretion to choose one use over another.

A marine mammal park for the enjoyment and educational benefit of Children!, is for children, NOT the seals. Therefor it is still the Children's Pool and the seals can now share the beach with us humans and not be chased off.