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City Council

The People's Business: July 28, 2020

Today's City Council meeting is in the books, and so let's pivot to the policy committees meeting tomorrow and Thursday.

Remember, if you'd like more detail on anything summarized here, click the agenda, then click on the item. Over on the right side of the page, you'll see links to a staff report and other pieces of supporting material.

Budget and Government Efficiency Committee -- Wednesday, July 29

The Budget and Government Efficiency Committee, chaired by Council President pro Tempore Barbara Bry, starts at 9 a.m. The agenda includes three items, starting with the Independent Budget Analyst's presentation of the Statement of Budgetary Principles for the fiscal year that began on July 1. This is a list of things that the City Council and the Mayor agree on in order to facilitate healthy communication and cooperation regarding the City budget. The two branches of government have been agreeing to this set of principles for 13 years now. This year's document is not substantially changed from last year's.

Here are the other two items under consideration:

  • 5G illustration5G Right-of-Way Permits and Refund Program: The City's Planning Department will ask the committee to weigh in on a proposal to exempt companies that install 5G small wireless facilities in the public right-of-way from paying what's known as a General Plan Maintenance Fee when they apply for permits. The committee will also be asked to consider creating a refund program for those companies that have paid the fee since Sept. 27, 2018.

Why? Because the Federal Communications Commission wants to remove any and all barriers standing in the way of 5G wireless service. To that end, the FCC ruled, on Sept. 26, 2018, that local governments can impose fees only to the extent that they represent "objectively reasonable" costs associated with the deployment of wireless infrastructure. The Planning Department estimates that the refunds will cost the General Plan Maintenance Fund some $959,400.

  • COVID-19 Tourism-Related Budget Impacts: The San Diego Tourism Marketing District and the Mission Bay Lessees Association will deliver the grim news about what the COVID-19 pandemic has done to the local tourism economy and, by extension, the City budget.

Active Transportation and Infrastructure Committee -- Wednesday, July 29

The Active Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (ATI), chaired by Councilmember Mark Kersey, meets at 2 p.m. There are two consent items on the agenda that won't be discussed unless someone wants to. The discussion agenda includes four items:

  • Consultant Agreement for Electrical Undergrounding: The City's Engineering and Capital Projects Department will get the committee's take on two proposed contracts with outside companies that would provide as-needed engineering design work amid the ongoing effort to bury San Diego Gas & Electric wires underground. The City's Utilities Undergrounding Program, which seeks to get 15 miles of wire under the ground each year, requires SDG&E-certified designers, which the City does not have in-house. The proposed contracts would go to Engineering Partners Inc. and TSAC Engineering, which prevailed in a competitive bidding process. Each contract would be limited to a maximum of $3 million over eight years.
  • Two palm treesStreet Tree Maintenance Contract: From the City's Transportation and Storm Water Department (TSW) comes a proposal to renew a contract with West Coast Arborists (WCA) for citywide street tree maintenance. WCA won a one-year contract last October that included four additional option years. TSW wants to go ahead with the first option year. If all options are exercised, the contract would be worth a max of $15,830,000 over the full five-year period.
  • Unimproved streets and alleys: Councilmember Vivian Moreno, who happens to be a member of the AT&I Committee, wants to make some changes to City policies governing maintenance of unimproved (dirt) streets and alleys. Specifically, she would like to change Council Resolution No. 107424, which specifically excludes City employees from working on dirt streets and alleys, and Council Policy 200-01, which outlines who is financially responsible for maintaining and constructing the various types of streets in San Diego but does not mention unimproved streets or alleys.

Unimproved streets and alleys tend to be concentrated in Council Districts 4, 8, and 9. Councilmember Moreno is proposing changing the policies to allow City employees to work on unimproved streets, and to make it so that funding for bringing unimproved streets up to City standards is determined during the Council's approval of the annual budget.

  • Performance Audit of the City's Public Liability Management: Last month, the City Auditor presented to the Council's Audit Committee a report on the City's management of risk and liability. The report found that the City’s approach to public-liability mitigation is "largely decentralized, reactive, and likely results in higher liability claims and costs than necessary" and that a more proactive approach "will enable the City to better anticipate and mitigate risks to the City’s major strategic goals." The Auditor detailed the findings and discussed the report's nine recommendations. Councilmember Moreno asked the Auditor to repeat the presentation for the AT&I Committee.

Land Use and Housing Committee -- Thursday, July 30

A special meeting of the Land Use and Housing Committee (LU&H), chaired by Councilmember Chris Ward, starts at 1 p.m. There are three items on the agenda, including a request from Councilmember Ward for the City Attorney to do an analysis and return to the Chihuahua with slipper in mouthcommittee with a draft Pet Friendly Housing Ordinance that permit pets in rental housing in San Diego.

Ward points out that lots of people have pets, and San Diego doesn't have lots of available housing, and lots of rental properties don't allow pets -- therefore, it's hard for renters with pets to find housing here, and lots of pets get abandoned as a result. An ordinance could potentially address issues such as household pet minimums, pet rent, pet deposits, responsible pet ownership, and renter’s insurance requirements.

Here are the other two agenda items:

Single-Room Occupancy Hotel Regulations: Last month, the LU&H Committee discussed Preserving Affordable Housing in the City of San Diego, a report recently produced by the San Diego Housing Commission. The committee directed the Housing Commission to take a look at the City's Single-Room Occupancy Hotel (SRO) Ordinance and recommend ways to make it more effective at preserving single-room rental units as an affordable housing option for lower-income residents. On Thursday, the Housing Commission will present to the committee a series of six draft amendments to the SRO Ordinance.

Horton Plaza Redevelopment: This item concerns the outdoor plaza area just north of the Horton Plaza shopping center. The City's Economic Development Department is proposing a new lease agreement with a collective of development companies operating under the names SCP Horton 1, 2, 3, and 4, which will rent the plaza area for 40 years and plan amenities and activities that will activate and energize the property.


Only City staff and credentialed members of the press may attend these meetings in person. However, anyone can participate and make comments by dialing 619-541-6310 and entering the access code 877861 followed by # when the item you're interested in comes up (full call-in instructions). Watch the meetings on cable TV channel 24 or AT&T channel 99, or stream them online.

Oh, and there will also be a special closed-session Council meeting tomorrow.

Next up will be a post on the full City Council meeting of Aug. 4.

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