By Doug Porter
America’s Finest City and its neighbors have got a lot of work to do.
The Center on Policy Initiatives has finished crunching the 2014 census data released last week, finding the number of San Diegans living in official poverty continues to increase. Seniors, children, and minority populations are disproportionally impacted, with 41.5% of adults living in poverty reporting they had jobs in 2014.
The Climate Action Campaign and Circulate San Diego released a report on Wednesday critical of regional planning proposals, saying current efforts will undermine one of the main goals of the city’s climate action plan.
The icing on the cake for the day was a report from KPBS about a successful effort in Coronado to halt additional bike lanes based on citizen complaints about “paint stripe pollution.”
The Poor Get Poorer
Every year the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey collects economic data, issuing both national and local reports in September. The Center on Policy Initiatives looked at the data from 2014, issuing a disturbing report concluding the job growth and economic development in San Diego had failed to put a dent in the city’s poverty rate.
The Gini Index, an international economic measure of income inequality, has increased from pre-recession levels. More than half of all income in the city (50.5%) went to the top fifth of households, while the bottom fifth of households had only 3% of the income.
The total number of city residents living below the federal poverty level (212,098) increased by 3,000 over the past year. There are 11,000 more children living in poverty (57,044) than in pre-recession 2007.
The overall poverty rate for the city was measured at 15.7%, with 24.8% of the Hispanic/Latino and 22.9% of the Black/Afro-American populations living below the poverty line.
San Diego County’s overall poverty rate in 2014 was 14.7%. The Census Bureau reports poverty data for all cities of more than 65,000 population. El Cajon had the highest poverty rate in the county, 22.8%, with 28% of children in El Cajon living below the federal poverty line. Vista, Escondido, and San Marcos also had poverty rates higher than the City of San Diego.
Most households in San Diego still have lower purchasing power than before the recession began in 2007, despite significant regional economic growth during five years of recovery. In 2014, the median household income in San Diego was $67,799, combining all earnings and other payments such as Social Security. Adjusted for inflation, that is $2,834 lower than the median in 2007.
Every time I read these kinds of figures I get angry all over again about the Chamber of Commerce campaign against increases in the minimum wage.
Transportation Snow Job?
Local environmental and transportation advocates have looked at the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) planning and are saying it falls far short of meeting climate-friendly goals for 2035 articulated in the City of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan.
It’s one of those “the devil is the details” moments where we all should realize that planning for an environmentally responsible future is apparently just an optional feature for the agency controlling much of the money for local infrastructure.
Whereas the city’s plan calls for 50% of area residents living in transit priority areas to get to work without using a car, SANDAG’s draft regional plan proposes building a transportation system where only 15% do that.
The Climate Action Campaign’s Nicole Capretz said the regional transportation plan must reflect local priorities.
“We have to kind of fundamentally repurpose our streets,” Capretz said. “So that they are safe for people to bike, walk and take public transit, which means that SANDAG needs to invest more resources in building the infrastructure to make those alternative transportation modes successful.”
SANDAG’s Gary Gallegos says the agency is spending a significant amount of money on public transit projects, but the agency doesn’t have enough money for everything on its wish list.
Local advocates believe there are resources available to fix SANDAG’s wish list to better prioritize increasing the number of people that walk, bike or take transit to work in San Diego.
Despite losing two court rulings stemming from a 2011 lawsuit brought by environmental groups who claimed SANDAG improperly measured their regional plan’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions, the agency seems bound and determined to go forward with a ‘highways first’ focus.
The San Diego region’s 35-year transportation plan is up for final approval in October, and it fails to include any of the major changes environmental groups requests for changes in priorities.
Furthermore, the agency is hard at work on a proposal for the 2016 ballot increasing sales tax revenues to be used for transportation.
From Andrew Keats at Voice of San Diego:
But for that initiative to have a chance, SANDAG needs labor, progressives and environmentalist to support it.
They don’t. Yet.
SANDAG staff is working on it, but it’s possible a split among environmentalists – between those who’ve taken a hardline stance against highway expansions and those taking a more centrist position – could become an obstacle.
A late April poll testing the viability of the measure found roughly 63 percent of county voters would support a tax hike to pay for public transportation, open space preservation, infrastructure and water-related investments. That puts the measure within striking distance of the required two-thirds threshold. But the numbers show the measure would hardly be a sure thing — any organized opposition would likely kill it.
The mayor’s office responded to this week’s criticism of SANDAG’s effort by saying it was a “starting point” for reducing pollution.
From the Times of San Diego:
“Independent of SANDAG, the city outlined a number of things in the draft climate action plan to encourage more walking, biking and transit use in the coming years to meet the plan’s goals,” Gustafson said. “The climate action plan is a roadmap for the future and allows for future adjustments to be made to meet the city’s and state’s ambitious goals, which are supported by many in the environmental and business communities.”
Gloria said the SANDAG plan is required to be updated every four years, leaving plenty of opportunity for future adjustments.
“SANDAG’s proposed regional plan does not prevent the city of San Diego from fully implementing our climate action plan,” [City Councilman Todd] Gloria said.
I think Circulate San Diego and the Climate Action Campaign are right to insist on more concrete plans. “Shoulda, coulda, woulda” won’t cut it thirty-five (or however many) years in the future when downtown starts flooding.
A ‘Visual Cacophony’ in Coronado
Claire Trageser’s report at KPBS on the decision of the Coronado City Council to halt further implementation of its 2011 Bike Master Plan reveals the kind delusional NIMBYism reserved for the most privileged in America. Kudos to Trageser for catching this on video. Nobody would believe it otherwise.
Quotes from the City Council hearing:
“You are covering Coronado with paint stripe pollution,” said resident Gerry Lounsbury.
“The graffiti on the streets does not help our property values,” declared Aileen Oya.
The lanes “bring to mind a visual cacophony that if you look there long enough it will induce a dizzying type of vertigo,” said Carolyn Rogerson.
Gerry MacCartee asked if the community couldn’t think of a better option than “these black streets with these brilliant white lines everywhere because believe me, it takes away from your home, from your outlook on life.”
And Darby Monger crafted an analogy to describe the addition of bike lanes to her beloved city.
“It’s very similar to personally taking all three of my daughters to a tattoo parlor and having them completely body tattooed,” she said.
Coronado Mayor Casey Tanaka told KPBS he wants to let residents vote on it next year.
Meanwhile, the video version of this story is available on YouTube for your viewing pleasure.
Oceanside Outsourcing Protested
Healthcare workers at the Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside are protesting a proposal to contract out 460 jobs at the facility, saying the move would create high turnover, harm patient care and eliminate good-paying jobs in the community.
They also say the hospital management is out of touch by allowing the pay and benefits of frontline healthcare workers to be cut while giving themselves $1.75 million in salary each year to the top executives. According to public records, the hospital CEO, Tim Moran, receives $525,000 in salary and four other administrators are paid more than $250,000 annually.
Eight hundred employees at Tri-City are represented by SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, a union known for its willingness to fight long and hard for its members.
While the hospital management may think they’ve found a way to cut the number of union employees with this move, they may want to reconsider.
The National Labor Relations Board General Counsel, according to Politico’s Morning Shift, has asked for a ruling reversing a Bush-era standard that makes it harder for contract employees to organize alongside their permanent counterparts.
Atkins Leads Block in Poll
Last weeks phone survey drove lots of speculation among local politicos. Questions were asked about all kinds of well known players…. Did this mean Nathan Fletcher was getting ready to take on Mayor Kevin Faulconer? Was organized labor fishing for a candidate to run against Scott Peters? Nope and nope.
From the Union-Tribune:
A poll quietly being passed around in political circles shows Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins with a substantial lead over fellow Democratic Sen. Marty Block in a potential showdown next year in San Diego’s 39th state Senate District.
The survey of 400 likely voters in the district has Atkins with a nearly 2-to-1 advantage over Block — 39 percent to 20 percent, according to a two-page summary by EMC Research, the Oakland-based firm that conducted the poll Sept. 10-15.
That period concluded just days before Atkins went public with what had been long speculated: that the termed-out Assembly leader would take on incumbent Block.
This news has prompted even more speculation. Did the Atkins camp release the data to scare off would-be contributors to Marty Block’s campaign?
Maybe, but I don’t think so. I think that horse left the barn a long time ago…
From the Los Angeles Times:
Atkins’ leadership role has put her in a strong fund-raising position. She has more than $600,000 in cash on hand in an account for a 2020 Senate run that she can legally put toward this 2016 run. She also has more than $900,000 leftover from her 2014 run, some of which she could use.
Block, who has just under $80,000 in the bank, said he was confident De León and Senate Democrats will help overcome the money gap. In fact, Block said the Senate leader has told him “he’ll do what’s necessary to win this race.”
On This Day: 1934 – Babe Ruth played his last game as a New York Yankee player. 1957 – President Eisenhower sent federal troops to Little Rock, AR, to enforce school integration. 1977 – The first Elvis Presley convention took place in Memphis, TN.
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