Wednesday, January 15, 2020 - NEWS RELEASE
San Diego – During his sixth State of the City address tonight, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer spoke directly to San Diegans about the devastating effects of the statewide housing and homeless crises, and the steps the City of San Diego is taking to lead California with innovative solutions to those immense challenges.
“The day I took my oath of office, I vowed to you that San Diego would write its comeback story,” Mayor Faulconer said. “Together, we have written it. San Diego is back. … We have restored integrity to City Hall, respect to our neighborhoods and dignity back to San Diego. And we’re not done. 2020 is going to be another year of action.”
Mayor Faulconer’s year of action includes:
Mayor Faulconer began the speech sharing the personal story of a formerly homeless Navy veteran who was addicted to drugs and lived in a tent under a freeway. His journey to a permanent home began when an officer from the Neighborhood Policing Division offered him a bed in one of the City’s bridge shelters. Now he’s sober and housed in a former motel the City and the San Diego Housing Commission rehabilitated into veteran housing units and serves as an example for others looking to turn their lives around.
On the homelessness in cities across the state, Mayor Faulconer said: “It’s time to get real about these problems. It’s not acceptable to condone living outdoors in urban areas. It’s not humane to let people with severe mental illness wander our streets. It’s not responsible to turn a blind eye to drug abuse. It’s time to clean up the unsafe homeless encampments that symbolize California’s failure to act. To anyone who says it’s not compassionate to move a person off the street … I say it’s not compassionate to let a person die on it.”
Under Mayor Faulconer’s leadership, San Diego has implemented the largest expansion of homeless services in City history with four new bridge shelters, the expansion of safe parking lots and storage centers, a new Housing Navigation Center and more. Those efforts resulted in San Diego being the only major county in California where homelessness went down last year.
Mayor Faulconer also noted the affect new state laws have had on significantly limiting the ability of local governments to address homeless individuals struggling with substance abuse. Those laws turned many serious drug offenses into misdemeanors, removing the ability judges had to give felony offenders the option for treatment over jail.
Mayor Faulconer said: “If you think someone who is addicted to drugs and sleeping in a canyon is going to turn their life around without an intervention, you’re not being honest. These laws are letting people slowly kill themselves right in front of our eyes. These are cries for help, and folks are not going to change without consequences for their actions. … That’s why I will be working in 2020 and beyond to make sure our state’s laws actually fulfill their intended purpose: to rehabilitate lives and keep neighborhoods safe.”
Mayor Faulconer said he would lead a statewide effort to reform those laws.
The City of San Diego has also adopted some of the most aggressive housing reforms in the state under Mayor Faulconer, including the elimination of outdated parking mandates, by-right approval for housing for the homeless, and allowing religious institutions to build affordable housing in their parking lots.
Now Mayor Faulconer wants to take things to the next level with his Complete Communities program. It takes the four pillars of a neighborhood – infrastructure, parks, transportation and homes – and combines them into one comprehensive vision to deliver everything a neighborhood needs to be complete.
“Together, let’s make sure the more homes we build, the better our neighborhoods get,” Mayor Faulconer said. “Let’s turn our One San Diego pledge into official City policy. Let’s rethink everything so ‘Yes In My Backyard’ also means ‘yes’ to more parks, more sidewalks and more of the things our neighborhoods need!”
Complete Communities includes integrated planning strategies that work together to create incentives to build homes near transit; provide more mobility choices; create more local parks and public gathering spaces; and more quickly bring benefits to neighborhoods that need them the most.
Complete Communities will go before the City Council this spring.
Mayor Faulconer also reminded San Diegans that Measure C – a citizens’ initiative titled “Yes! For a Better San Diego” – is on the March 2020 ballot. It will establish dedicated funding for homeless programs and road repair for the first time, and modernize and expand the Convention Center.
Measure C would increase the hotel tax paid by visitors to raise billions of dollars to benefit San Diegans by funding the following: