SAN DIEGO (CNS) – San Diego’s key issues in the coming year will be chronic homelessness, housing shortages, rising crime and increasing infrastructure needs, Mayor Todd Gloria said Wednesday in his second annual State of the City address.
Gloria’s speech included proposals to make infrastructure repairs throughout the city, strategies for permanent solutions to the homelessness crisis, and methods to ensure more housing is built.
While saying that he and many other San Diegans were “short on patience for happy talk” that would be part of a typical State of the City address, Gloria said he felt the city was “ready” to tackle the challenges ahead.
Watch Mayor Gloria’s address in its entirety below:
Gloria first addressed the city’s backlog of much-needed infrastructure repairs to systems he said were often aging and outdated.
Gloria said his office would start a citywide infrastructure funding program that would prioritize improvements in the city’s underserved communities.
Road repairs will focus on the most heavily traveled areas, particularly in communities long in need of restoration, Gloria said.
“Rather than chalking up miles of easy fixes in cul de sacs, we’ll be diligently restoring segments of the roads most traveled, like Euclid Avenue, Skyline Drive, Orange Avenue, Balboa Avenue and Clairemont Mesa Boulevard.”
Gloria said the city’s street preservation ordinance would also be updated to hold that when crews work on city streets for underground work, they will reimburse the city for the costs, which Gloria said typically fell on taxpayers.
Regarding homelessness, which Gloria called “my highest priority,” the mayor said the city would focus on increasing shelter bed capacity and housing opportunities with supportive services.
Gloria said homelessness in San Diego was exacerbated by a housing shortage, which he vowed to address by pushing for reforms that would speed up housing projects.
Gloria said the city would opt into Senate Bill 10, which allows local governments to implement a streamlined zoning process to build projects near mass transit.
Gloria also announced a “Bridge to Home” program that he said would assist affordable-housing developers attain financing.
Gloria also said more had to be done to reach unsheltered individuals suffering from mental illnesses, who often cannot care for themselves or seek out homeless services on their own.
To this end, Gloria said he and City Attorney Mara Elliott would work to pursue legislation that would reform California’s conservatorship laws “so that people who cannot help themselves aren’t left vulnerable to the dangers of life on the streets.”
Gloria also vowed to address rising crime in the city, which he said rose by 13% overall last year, with violent crime up nearly 11% and hate crimes increasing by 65%.
“Lawlessness will not rule the day in our city” said Gloria. “We must get illegal guns off the streets. We must disrupt the gang violence taking innocent lives, and those who commit crimes against the people of this city must be held accountable.”
Gloria promised to ensure the police department and City Attorney’s office had the necessary resources to combat crime, including competitive wages for city law enforcement.
But Gloria said part of that promise included focusing on police accountability, and to that end, Gloria said he would sign an ordinance implementing the Independent Commission on Police Practices approved by voters in 2020.
“A great city can fully fund and support its law enforcement officers while also ensuring they honor their oath,” Gloria said.
Gloria also said he would forward a privacy ordinance that would allow for the use of technology “to keep communities safe without infringing on privacy rights.”
The city’s use of thousands of Smart Streetlight cameras generated concerns from privacy advocates and led to a large number of the cameras being shut off in late 2020.
While Gloria did not delve into the specifics of his privacy ordinance, he said, “We can and will strike the balance between protecting our residents and respecting their civil rights and their civil liberties.”
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