San Diego Mayor’s Annual Address Proposes Plans To Address City’s Most Pressing Problems
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San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s State of the City address last Thursday called for aggressive plans to reduce homelessness, make housing more affordable, create a funding source for road repair and expand the convention center.
He called on the city council to approve a new housing package that would add homes, lower costs and promote smart growth in San Diego. The package would include incentives to build low-income, middle class and green housing, and encourage growth in transit-friendly areas. “One of the biggest issues affecting us in California is the state’s housing shortage and the unaffordable housing market it has spawned,” Mayor Faulconer said. “More than 70% of San Diegans cannot currently afford a median-priced home. We have to change that. People who love San Diego and want to live in San Diego should not be priced out of San Diego. We need to build more housing.”
Six out of 10 cities with the highest rents nationwide are in California, according to a recent Abodo report. San Diego was No. 8. The report found San Diego experienced a 1.98% increase in the price of a one-bedroom apartment, which rose from $1,594 in January 2016 to $1,828 in December 2016.
Reducing homelessness is another challenge Faulconer said the city must address. San Diego's homeless population is the fourth-largest in the nation, with 8,700 people without a fixed address and 50% of them living on the streets. “This is an unprecedented problem that demands an unprecedented level of cooperation. We need San Diego’s business community, care organizations, the city and the county to all come to the table,” he said. “We must channel the fundamental decency of San Diego’s people into compassionate and collective action.”
Faulconer said the city will seek proposals to build and operate a homeless assessment center and immediately identify a new facility to add hundreds of beds for the homeless on a nightly basis. Existing programs would receive additional resources, including increasing the number of clinics available for Psychiatric Emergency Response Teams, partnering with the 211 information system to establish a 24/7 hotline for emergency beds for the homeless, and securing private funding to expand a successful family reunification program.
He also plans to introduce a ballot measure this year that would increase the hotel tax to fund construction of a convention center expansion on the bay front and create a dedicated funding stream for road repairs. “This is going to be good for our tourism economy, good for our infrastructure and good for our city,” Faulconer said.