Mayoral candidate criticizes his opponent for prioritizing industry, big developers over community groups.
By Andy Cohen
In an effort to reach out to a wider array of voters, and answering criticism that he is unfamiliar with the neighborhoods in the northern parts of San Diego, City Councilman and mayoral candidate David Alvarez ventured into Carmel Valley to discuss his plan for neighborhood and community development with representatives from various community groups throughout the northern reaches of the city.
There are more than 40 identified, unique communities in San Diego, each with different characteristics and different needs. To better address those needs, Alvarez called for a series neighborhood summits within his first 100 days in office, allowing each community group the opportunity to communicate directly to city staff and identify their priorities.
“We’re going to go to all of them and do an on the ground assessment of what’s been forgotten by past administrations. This will go beyond potholes and street lights and sidewalks, because I believe that each of our neighborhoods has something extraordinary to share with the rest of us,” said Alvarez.
“I will lead a trickle-up model, a grassroots model, not a top to bottom model, because it hasn’t worked, and it hasn’t benefitted our neighborhoods,” he added.
His opponent, Republican City Councilman Kevin Faulconer, he said, “will bring the same people, the same power structure that has neglected each one of our neighborhoods for far too long.”
Kevin Faulconer “doesn’t have a neighborhoods agenda,” said Alvarez. “He’s talked about neighborhoods, but there is no agenda.”
Alvarez noted past city budgets that Faulconer supported, cutting police and fire services, “browning out” fire stations, eliminating library hours as well as operating hours at the city’s parks and recreation centers.
“This year we had a bipartisan approved budget that increased all of these services, and he voted against it. So I think it’s very clear where his priorities are, it’s very clear where he’s stood in the past, and where he will stand in the future.”
Alvarez noted Faulconer’s opposition to the Barrio Logan Plan Update, calling it a “community driven plan with community support” that is opposed by Faulconer “because an industry group said it wasn’t good enough for them.”
“And so you can have that same scenario replicated everywhere else, where if a developer doesn’t like the proposal moving forward, who is he going to side with? I think his record speaks for itself,” he said.
Alvarez also noted the San Diego mayor’s role on SANDAG, the regional planning and development board that collaborates on a variety of issues, from land use to transit. He said that the board is in the process of finalizing a transit oriented development policy that he expects to be completed within the next few months. The San Diego City Council recently passed and forwarded a resolution to the SANDAG board, requesting that public transit become a priority. SANDAG has come under fire recently, having been accused of being too focused on freeway expansion to accommodate an increased number of vehicles instead of prioritizing public transportation to alleviate traffic congestion and fall in line with the state of California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Kevin Faulconer, said Alvarez, opposed that resolution.
“We need to find a mechanism for City Hall to reach out to all San Diegans,” said Joe LaCava, a civic activist currently serving as Chair of the San Diego Community Planners Committee. “As the District 8 Councilmember, David did not wait for the community to come to him, he went directly into District 8 to ask thousands of constituents what they needed from the city; what priorities they wanted the city to have, and what he should be doing to make their neighborhoods better.”
“I want to make sure we do the right thing to restore services throughout the city, and that’s what we’ve done so far, but we’ve got to be specific to every neighborhood, because we’re all different,” said Alvarez.