By John Stump
I am submitting a proposal, for the next appropriate ballot, on behalf of poor, homeless, and displaced San Diegans and their families. The proposal, in summary, would require that the City of San Diego annually budget for Public Health and Housing, as part of its regular and routine “Department” level budgeting. The proposal would require the addition of a “Public Health and Housing Department” to the regular city budget.
The San Diego City Charter currently provides:
(Section 26.1: Public Services Required) It shall be the obligation and responsibility of The City of San Diego to provide public works services, water services, building inspection services, public health services, park and recreation services, library services, and such other services and programs as may be desired, under such terms and conditions as may be authorized by the Council by ordinance. [Emphasis added]
The Charter further provides, …that suitable provision may be made for the aid and support of the poor. [Emphasis added] In summary, “public health services” are a current required obligation and responsibility of our City.
The City Charter once contained separate provisions for Human Services and if necessary these provisions should be restored by Charter amendments. In the 1960s the City took the approach that Human Services and Housing should no longer be a city responsibility. Today, we have learned that approach has not worked. The City Council needs to budget for people.
I am calling for the return to a people focused government, as a first principle.
Our City is challenged by ever increasing homelessness; drug and alcohol abuse; communicable diseases, including but not limited to Hepatitis, AIDS, Zika, and West Nile; an affordable housing crisis; aging issues; new Americans and refugees integration issues; and other social conditions which lead to poverty, crime and disease.
These human condition issues are accelerating with the onslaught of climate change and over population. Our City government has commissions that focus on Art and Culture, Conventions and Tourism, Parks & Recreation, Planning, Trees, Stadiums, and other special focus commissions, but none focused on the basic human conditions of our people. I am calling for the return to a people focused government, as a first principle.
The current annual City Budget contains fifty-seven (57) Departments on every subject from Airports to Zoological Exhibits. Most of these Departments are not charter required obligations or responsibilities. Some cover millions of dollars, some are fully contracted out, and some of these department budgets have no employees or staff. I am proposing that the Council require the collection and presentation of monies being proposed for expenditure on human health and housing be presented together in one place, as a stand alone department.
I believe that department level budgeting will improve the present splintered and disassociated efforts so as to increase efficiency and effectiveness of service coordination and delivery, increase charitable or philanthropic giving, and residential advocacy and oversight, for low income, poor and homeless San Diegans.
John Stump is a long-term City Heights resident, his Azaela Park home is under the big tree at 3 LEAF. He has been an active environmentalist for more than 50 years and past Chairman of the San Diego Sierra Club. He is an attorney and has served the City of San Diego as Chairman of its Equal Opportunity Commission under several mayors. John was chairman of the City Heights Community Development Corporation board of directors during its advocacy for covering the 15 Freeway and the addition of City Heights schools and bike paths. He is a past California Bar Commissioner for legal services. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org