Thank you for your support as I served as San Diego’s Interim Mayor for the past six months. When Kevin Faulconer was sworn in as our new mayor on Monday, I admit to feeling somewhat relieved and excited about the future of our City. The challenges of serving as Interim Mayor were many, and I was rewarded daily with new knowledge of the great work being performed by our City employees and the innovative developments happening throughout our neighborhoods. I’ve been asked in recent weeks if I learned anything during my mayoral tenure. I assure you I learned plenty. One lesson that struck me most is that if you don’t try, you’ll never succeed. I was humbled to be able to serve my lifelong hometown in new ways and appreciate the support and encouragement I received from so many of you to not just keep the seat warm but to give San Diego the leadership it had lacked with the previous administration.
Council District Three Staff Changes
My transition back to the Council District Three office has been smooth, and I’m happy to introduce Molly Chase and Adriana Martinez as new members of the Todd Squad who will help me serve our neighborhoods.
Molly and Adriana both served on my mayoral staff, and I was immediately impressed with the professionalism, enthusiasm, and dedication to San Diego that each demonstrated. Molly will assist me in Golden Hill, Old Town, South Park, and University Heights, and work on issues related to libraries, education, and undergrounding. Adriana will serve as my representative to Banker’s Hill, Hillcrest, Mission Hills, and Normal Heights. Please welcome them to the team and let them know how they may help you.
Anthony Bernal will continue to assist me in Downtown, East Village, and Little Italy; North Park issues and concerns will still be handled by Adrian Granda; and Steve Hill is maintaining his representative role in Balboa Park and Burlingame.
I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank Courtney Thomson for her dedicated service to me and to Council District Three. I was lucky enough to call Courtney a member of the Todd Squad since my first campaign in 2008, and I wish her well in her new position in the City Council Administration Office.
New Chief of Police
San Diego has a new police chief! The City Council unanimously confirmed the appointment of Chief Shelley Zimmerman yesterday. She is a well-respected leader with 31 years of service at the San Diego Police Department, and I know she will do a fine job as San Diego’s police chief.
San Diego is a diverse City with people of different ethnicities, nationalities, sexual orientations, and economic backgrounds who have unique perspectives on law enforcement and crime prevention. I am confident Chief Zimmerman and Mayor Faulconer will work with me and with all San Diegans to make sure our Police Department appropriately reflects the communities it serves, especially as we look to fill vacancies throughout the ranks.
Chief Zimmerman’s experience, positive attitude, and understanding of the needs of our officers make her a great leader for SDPD.
Food Trucks Now Have Rules of the Road
On Monday, I announced new rules for mobile food trucks following the approval of a regulatory ordinance by the City Council. Developing the ordinance was a priority for me when I served as Interim Mayor.
The sensible rules approved Monday will allow food trucks to operate in San Diego in a way that doesn’t negatively impact our neighborhoods.
The ordinance provides that private property owners who host food trucks must apply for an over the counter permit from the City’s Development Services Department. Food truck operators are not required to get permits.
No permits would be required for property owners in industrial areas where the food truck is providing a private catering service or at schools, hospitals, religious facilities, or construction sites.
In residential areas, the City Council approved a limit on hours of operation in order to reduce the potential for late night noise impacts on residents. The hours of limitation within 300 feet of a dwelling unit are 6:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. This doesn’t mean food trucks couldn’t operate within 300 feet of a residence; it only puts very sensible time limitations on those operations.
The ordinance also includes:
-Locations where food trucks need minimal staff review in order to limit the time, place, and manner of operations to minimize potential conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles. In locations mapped as high parking demand with limited on-street parking availability, food trucks will be limited to operating on private property in order to help preserve the much needed on-street parking.
-A requirement for the City Council to review the ordinance for effectiveness, public input, and potential changes in one year.
-Food truck operators will be required to clean 25 feet around their vehicles.
Should the City Council maintain its support at the ordinance’s second reading, City staff will submit the ordinance to the Airport Authority for a consistency determination and to the Coastal Commission for certification of a local coastal program amendment.
The ordinance is a fair approach to protect public health, safety and welfare while providing for mobile food truck operations on private property and in the public right-of-way, and I know food truck operators will benefit from having this clarity.
A New Home for the Homeless Storage Center
Last week, San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) President & CEO Rick Gentry and I announced that the successful homeless storage facility will soon be located on an SDHC-owned paved lot in Downtown San Diego.
For those who may not be familiar, the storage center is a facility where homeless individuals can secure their belongings in clean City trash receptacles and access them as needed. The storage center has kept literally tons of belongings off of our streets and out of our canyons, and some homeless individuals have been able to get jobs and needed assistance because they were no longer lugging all of their belongings around with them.
It’s a key element of ending the cycle of homelessness and moving people off of the streets and onto more productive and self-sufficient paths.
SDHC will seek final approval from the SDHC Board of Commissioners to lease the paved lot at 252 16th Street to Girls Think Tank for the storage center, beginning on May 1, 2014 with a monthly rent of $1,500 for the first year. Monthly rent would increase 4.5 percent in the second year. The lease would include three one-year options to renew the lease, with additional 4.5 percent rent increases each year.
I’d like to extend a special thank you to St. Vincent de Paul Villages, who has been generously donating its parking lot for this program for well over a year, as well as to the private donors who have helped to keep this critical program alive over the past several months, including Harbor Presbyterian Church, Ace Parking, Jerome’s Furniture, and the Downtown Fellowship of Churches and Ministries. Of course, the facility would not exist without the management by Girls Think Tank and the vision and dedication of David Ross, and I remain grateful to them as well.
Advisory Committee to Improve Utility Undergrounding Process
The undergrounding of our utility lines removes visual blight from our neighborhoods, and the City of San Diego is currently relocating approximately 15 miles of overhead utility lines underground throughout the City each year through our Utilities Undergrounding Program. As we make more progress, community members in District Three and throughout the City have expressed frustration with the process. To improve the program, I worked to create a Utility Undergrounding Advisory Committee, which was recently approved by the City Council.
The committee shall advise the City Council on how we may better implement utility undergrounding to minimize community concerns related to the installation of utility equipment, including above ground utility boxes, and how the City, neighbors, and utility companies could improve communication in implementing the goals of the program.
The committee is comprised of 14 members and shall report back to the City Council with recommendations before March 1, 2015.
I look forward to keeping you updated on the committee’s efforts throughout the year.
Balboa Park Centennial
Yesterday, the Board of Balboa Park Celebration, Inc. (BPCI), took steps to return to the City of San Diego all authority for organizing the 2015 Centennial in Balboa Park.
I am grateful for the work of BPCI. The board’s move demonstrates its desire to do what is best for Balboa Park, and the City of San Diego will use BPCI’s efforts as a base of what may be possible to commemorate the 2015 centennial of the Panama-California Exposition, I look forward to working with Mayor Faulconer, City staff, the Park’s cultural institutions, and private sector partners to ensure Balboa Park serves our City and honors our history for another 100 years.
Progress Report: Bus Rapid Transit Project
Neighbors and visitors in University Heights, North Park, and Hillcrest have noticed a lot of progress by SANDAG crews on the construction of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project along El Cajon Boulevard and Park Boulevard. I want to give you the latest information to help you plan your trips throughout these busy corridors.
-Park Boulevard at Polk Avenue: Construction has begun to reconfigure the intersection of Polk Avenue and Park Boulevard to enhance pedestrian safety and ensure the efficient operation of the rapid bus service. Through traffic is closed on Polk Avenue. Motorists must turn right from both eastbound and westbound Polk Avenue, and they can make U-turns at El Cajon Boulevard or Lincoln Avenue. The east-west crosswalks on Park Boulevard at Polk Avenue are currently closed to accommodate construction. Pedestrians are advised to cross Park Boulevard at Lincoln Avenue or El Cajon Boulevard during construction.
-Future Configuration of Polk Avenue Intersection: Upon completion of the project, right-hand only turns will be maintained for both eastbound and westbound traffic coming from Polk Avenue onto Park Boulevard. A new traffic signal will be installed at Polk Avenue to facilitate pedestrians crossing east and west. Traffic signals also will be installed at Howard Avenue and Lincoln Avenue, allowing motorists to make U-turns at these intersections, in addition to El Cajon Boulevard.
-Park Boulevard at Howard Avenue: Construction to build transit-only lanes and a bus station on Park Boulevard between Polk Avenue and El Cajon Boulevard is underway. Howard Avenue is closed to through traffic at Park Boulevard until approximately August 2014 when construction is completed and new traffic signals at Howard Avenue are activated. If it's possible, the project team will strive to provide a safe pedestrian crossing sooner at Howard Avenue. In the meantime, pedestrians are advised to cross at El Cajon Boulevard or Lincoln Avenue.
-Eight new decorative induction street lights were installed on El Cajon Blvd at Texas
-Shelters at BRT stops at the intersections of El Cajon Boulevard and Texas Street, and University Avenue and Park Boulevard are partially installed. They will be completed closer to launch date this summer.
Thank you for your continued patience with this project. By providing a faster transit route between San Diego State University and Downtown, vehicle traffic on the freeways and on local streets will decrease and harmful environmental impacts will lessen.
News You Can Use: Parking Meter Changes Downtown
In January, I announced some changes to Downtown parking meter enforcement, and the changes went into effect on March 3 to improve the parking management and increase turnover for local businesses.
Meters in the Hospitality Zone are now enforced between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. The Hospitality Zone is bordered by Broadway to the north, 7th Avenue to the east, Harbor Drive to the south, and 1st Avenue to the west.
The changes were proposed by Civic San Diego. In its role as the advisory board for the Downtown Community Parking District, Civic San Diego approved a one-year pilot program for parking meter enforcement hours to be from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (rather than from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.) within the Hospitality Zone.
The City of San Diego posted notices of the enforcement changes in January, starting a grace period which was in effect until Monday. People in violation of the new regulations during the transition received warning notices; fines are now being issued to violators.
Existing commercial loading zones, shared commercial loading/taxicab zones, shared commercial loading/white passenger loading zones, and green zones with special business hours were not changed.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve,