Each January, the mayor of San Diego addresses the citizenry with a State of the City speech. Here’s a blurb from Mayor Todd Gloria’s 2022 address:
“…While the complaints about homelessness are common, the proposed solutions for it are wildly divergent and frequently contradictory.
At one end of the spectrum are residents demanding we criminalize homelessness.
On the other are those decrying any enforcement of our laws against setting up camp on the sidewalk.
It’s this kind of conflict that has historically paralyzed leaders on this crisis.”
Insightful words. Are we better off today on homelessness than we were a year ago?
We certainly are not.
Herewith, the thesandiegosun.com’s pre-emptive State of the City communiqué, including a leading look at downtown homelessness and other hot takes on hot-button issues.
The regional count of homelessness–sheltered and unsheltered–is up. In downtown San Diego alone, there are 1,709 people living unsheltered. According to a count by the Downtown San Diego Partnership, that number rose each of the past six months.
The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office reports that 500-ish people experiencing homelessness died on the streets in 2022.
Downtown residents often have to walk around tent encampments on public sidewalks.
It’s an overstatement, however, to say the mayor’s office has been paralyzed by the issue. Drip by drip, the city created or brought online about 600 shelter beds last year, according to a mayoral spokesperson.
The city also “invested in” close to 1,000 bridge-to-home dwellings in 2022.
It’s not enough. More people are falling into homelessness than are being rescued off the streets, according to The San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness.
Mayor Gloria’s communications efforts often proclaim that he’s doing more than any previous San Diego mayor, especially his predecessor, Kevin Faulconer.
Mayor Gloria continually emphasizes that homelessness is his number-one priority. It should be. And the city needs to emphatically step up action items that will have an immediate effect.
Much more affordable housing and shelter beds are the path to the solution. This is well-known within City Hall.
Housing that gets people off the streets immediately–not three to five years from now–is drastically needed.
Newly elected Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass declared a state of emergency on homelessness on her recent first day in office.
San Diego’s number-one priority calls for an equally dire declaration–at least.
Mayor Gloria’s 2023 State of The City address needs to start and end on extreme and forceful plans to end the suffering of people experiencing homelessness as well as the peripheral effects it has on San Diego locals, workers and visitors navigating our downtown tent micro-cities.
The Padres. Last year was a magical season for the San Diego Padres. Kudos to team owner Peter Seidler, who loosened the purse strings and brought quality baseball talent to play at Petco Park. The euphoria of celebrating a postseason series victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers at the downtown intersection of Seventh Venue and J Street is still a visceral memory.
Ferando Tatis Jr. Grow up, dude. The team gave you a Brinks Truck full of cash to hit home runs and wow us with defensive plays. Don’t try to jump that truck over the Grand Canyon, or whatever offseason nonsense you’ve been up to in the past. Injuries and suspensions are not the way to pay team ownership–or this city–back.
Padres fans. Keep the faith. But listen, can we collectively agree on a couple more creative chants to add to our arsenal than: “Let’s go, Padres!” and “Beat L.A.?”
E-Scooters. Technology gave us a good thing. Electric scooters aren’t just fun, they’re practical for some commuters. Knuckleheads rode them recklessly on the sidewalk and left them scattered in messes all over town. The city council correctly cracked down on scooter rules. Now, geofencing tech prevents sidewalk surfing and requires scooters to be corralled in designated parking areas. Unfortunately, the rider experience is now a joke. There aren’t enough scooters and they don’t perform well even in legal right-of-ways. Can we regain a happy medium?
The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park. It’s like benevolent aliens dropped this enormous, shell-shaped outdoor music venue with a futuristic sound system on Embarcadero Marina Park South. What a world-class addition to the city. The Rady Shell is open daily to the public. Ticketed events have included the San Diego Symphony, Sheryl Crow and Olivia Rodrigo. Billy Joel and Sting have come to play corporate events, while their music freely flows out over the bayside park.
Downtown Rents. Residents in 92101 are being separated into haves and have-nots. (Personal bias: The rent on my downtown condo shot up 20% last year.) Slow the roll. Earnings for working households ($116,137 in 2019 average, according to the Downtown San Diego Partnership) is 11% higher than the rest of the county. However: Average total household income (which includes public assistance and retirement income) is lower than the country average. Nearly a quarter of downtown households bring in less than $25,000.
Wonderfront Festival. It was a treat to have Gwen Stafani, Zac Brown and Kings on Leon downtown headlining three nights of the Wonderfront Arts & Music Festival. Come back next year, Wonderfront, and build back better to a pre-2009 time when the Street Scene music festival annually took over and rocked city blocks with sweet, sweet tunes.
Pardon our dust. Construction cranes fill the East Village skyline. Redos of Horton Plaza and Seaport Village are ongoing. Tech hubs are rising in the Marina District. Here’s to hardhats wrapping up projects all over the city, giving way to useful retail, commercial and residential buildings coming online.
Pump it down. As Californians, San Diegans are passively resigned to higher gas prices than commuters in other states. That’s no excuse for downtown stations that regularly eclipse the county’s going rate by 30 cents or more. Looking at you Shell Station on A Street between Tenth and Eleventh avenues. Yes, you’re at the foot of the 163 Freeway and location is king. We’d fume less if you’d keep your gassy prices more classy.
News to use. Finally, a shameless plug for thesandiegosun.com. This l’il award-winning site is less than two years old, has a brand new design and is ever-committed to focusing on news that affects downtown San Diego. If you live, work or play in the urban core, keep an eye on The Sun. SDSun