Plenty of year-end stories recap the past. We’ve looked at the most explosive opinions voiced on VOSD this year, the biggest stories we published and followed, the whopper claims and the most RT-able tweets. But now that the calendar’s flipped over to 2015, we want to look ahead at what’s to come.

We asked a few notable San Diegans what they thought the near future might hold. Our panel includes: April Boling, a CPA and one-time City Council candidate; Barbara Bry, founder of Run Women Run and Athena San Diego,and former editor and CEO of Voice of San Diego; Dwayne Crenshaw, community leader and RiseSD co-founder; Ray Ellis, philanthropist and at one point, Sherri Lightner’s rival for her City Council seat; Joe LaCava, a civil engineer; Diane Moss, executive director of Project New Village and Mary Walshok, dean of UC San Diego Extension.

Below are their edited responses to a few questions focused on the year ahead.

Who’s an emerging leader to watch?

Crenshaw: “The obvious and popular choice has to be Chris Cate. Maybe the new face of ‘compassionate conservatism?’ In the not-so-obvious-choice category, I am eager to see Serge Dedina’s leadership in pushing increased civic engagement as mayor of Imperial Beach. Aspirationally, I am cheering for Marne Foster to flourish as leader of the San Diego Unified School Board. Borrowing from the ‘Wizard of Oz,’ I think Marne may surprise many with her heart, brain and courage to take on some seemingly intractable issues and deeply vested interest groups.”

Moss: “One person I will be watching is Anahid Brakke as she leaves the Leichtag Foundation to provide leadership at the San Diego Hunger Coalition. I’m interested to see what insights and energy she will bring to the food security issues in San Diego.”

Walshok: “Reginald Jones, the CEO of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, is bringing a very different prospective to urban redevelopment, focusing on capacity building and collective impact, and is very disciplined in his approach.”

We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

Ellis: “Chris Cate, San Diego City Council member; Mark Arabo, president and CEO of the Neighborhood Market Association; Stephen Heverly, managing director of Equinox Center; Anahid Brakke, executive director of the San Diego Hunger Coalition and Jose Cruz, executive director of the Barrio Logan College Institute.”

Bry: “The continued success of the San Diego economy depends on entrepreneurs like Sarah Esper, a UCSD graduate, who is also the co-founder of ThoughtSTEM, a company she started in 2012 with two other UCSD Ph.D. students to teach children to code.”

LaCava: “The city of San Diego’s first-ever chief data officer, Maksim Pecherskiy. Pecherskiy holds the promise of unlocking the value in the city’s treasure trove of raw data. His work can allow the city to operate more efficiently, help city departments work more collaboratively and give San Diegans better insight into their city government.”

What development or infrastructure projects should we prioritize in 2015?

Crenshaw: “No more lip service. No more excuses. No more band-aids. Fully funding the Home Avenue and Paradise Hills fire stations identified as priorities in the Citygate report have to top the city’s infrastructure list. Public safety is the city’s No. 1 job. We’re talking about the possible difference between life and death.”

Moss: “We should support better quality of life and increased access to opportunity for all neighborhoods. Green infrastructure – the interconnected network of open spaces and natural areas like community gardens – can cost less to install and maintain when compared with traditional forms of infrastructure. Green infrastructure projects also foster community cohesiveness by engaging all residents in planning, planting and maintenance of the sites.”

Boling: “We need the money and the jobs that the Convention Center generates. People keep focusing on whether the center itself is internally profitable, when that isn’t the point at all. Also, the multi-modal transportation center adjacent to the airport needs to become a priority. If we are serious about getting people out of their cars, there must be alternatives.”

Walshok: “We need to move as quickly as we can on transportation infrastructure that is an alternative to the private automobile. Jobs are north of Interstate 8 and increasingly people live south of Interstate 8. We need much more effective light rail, bus- and bicycle-friendly systems to allow people to move around the county. Right now everyone depends on their car.”

Ellis: “The poor conditions of our roads continues to be a major issue. Major spending is needed in many of our parks, especially Balboa Park. Overall our focus needs to be on prioritizing better in local government so it works for people. And we need a scaled-down One Paseo project that does not negatively impact the quality of life in and around Carmel Valley.”

Bry: “We need to develop a financing plan to support infrastructure repairs and upgrades. To identify priorities, we could crowdsource the answers. The neighborhoods know what they need.”

LaCava: “First, we must respond to the Citygate report and address shortfalls in fire-rescue, whether it is building fire stations or staffing interim stations with two- or four-person crews; every neighborhood deserves the same level of service. Second, the PureWater Program must continue to resolve our permitting issues at Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant and deliver a locally controlled water supply for our city. Third, we must find funding to comprehensively address our city’s infrastructure backlog.”

What’s the single greatest change we could make next year to make it easier to live in San Diego?

Crenshaw: “Proactively, spurring new job creation everywhere, but particularly in communities with lingering high unemployment and limited economic development. Actual investments should be made in 2015 for a summer jobs program, targeted placement and training programs for youth, veterans and other marginalized populations, employer hiring credits, small business loans and shovel-ready infrastructure projects.”

Boling: “It would be easier to live in San Diego if one didn’t have to constantly dodge potholes.”

Walshok: “I feel that we are underinvesting in talent development in San Diego at the technical, production, manufacturing, skilled and semi-skilled professional levels – spheres where community college degrees and certification programs make a huge difference in the employability of an individual. If we made this change in our higher education strategy we could contribute to growing good high-wage jobs for more citizens and through that achieve a renewal of San Diego’s declining middle class.”

Bry: “We need to reinvest in city programs for children. This investment would include expanded public library hours and support for before- and after-school programs like the “6 to 6″ program the city supported in the past. Prepare our children to be scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs.”

LaCava: “Perhaps not easier but certainly with more confidence, we have to address the current retention and recruitment challenges of our San Diego Police Department. Not only will this solidify staffing for officers on the beat, it will allow the city to restore proven programs, especially community policing.”

Correction: An earlier version of this post misspelled Mary Walshok.

    This article relates to: Corrections, News, People, Share

    Written by Catherine Green

    Catherine Green is deputy editor at Voice of San Diego. She handles daily operations while helping to plan new long-term projects. You can contact her directly at or 619.550.5668. Follow her on Twitter: @c_s_green.

    SWARNER subscriber

    Maybe you should also mention that he is/was a paid lobbyist for the Wireless industry.  Specifically, Crown Castle. They are the nation’s largest provider of shared wireless infrastructure,  They have over 40,000 cel towers.

    If you want a cel tower on every corner, vote for Joe. Also check out the lawsuit he is a party to.

    Walt Brewer
    Walt Brewer subscribermember

    Kudos to Mr. Crenshaw for expressing productivity the basis to earn quality of life, and help regain global economic leadership. Shovel-ready projects, even major sports facilities etc., just mean print more money.

    Wonder if Ms. Boling realizes even advocates’ projected mass transit operations at the proposed multi-modal facility NE of Lindbergh are about like the simple Old Town Transit Center? And part of an expensive incomvenient plan to process all through a new single terminal then transfer them again to gates at current Terminal locations.
    Lindbergh is one of the most convenient. Let’s just build current Terminals out, provide consistent parking, route the planned ramp from I-5 directly to it.

    And by the way, SANDAG analysis shows the personal on-demand direct to real destination service autos provide is 20time as cost effective as mass transit for energy/emissions reductions. And even better for thefuture

    La Playa Heritage
    La Playa Heritage subscribermember

    The City of San Diego is still hoarding $41.3 Million in cash that could be used immediately for neighborhood infrastructure in hidden Reserve accounts of the Community Parking Districts (CPD) and the Development Impact Fees (DIF).

    For example, there is $17.8 Million in hidden Reserves as part of the Community Parking Districts (CPD). This month the CPD Audit will go before the full City Council without analyzing the existing 85% target utilization rate of Parking Meters, the hidden $17.8 Million in Reserves, or the City Attorney misguided legal advice that Parking District Revenue cannot be used for public infrastructure, maintenance, and landscaping projects on Streets and Sidewalks within Parking Districts, like everywhere else in California, specifically Old Pasadena.

    Currently the Downtown Centre City Development Impact Fees (DIF) account has $22 million siting in the bank as Reserves, hoarded for years.  Linked above is the CPRA Response the Dowtown Centre City Development Impact Fees (DIF) with comments in Red. 

    Since 2005 for downtown, the City of San Diego has collected $23.5 Million dollars in Reserves, and have not spent a DIF penny on projects.  However for FY-2013, a total of $127,772.56 was spent on Extra Administration costs for zero projects.  Please investigate and force the City of San Diego to spent the money in DIF Reserves for infrastructure projects, instead of hiding the funds in Reserves.

    Please see Page 3 of 5 of the attached documents for pending projects downtown, which half way through FY-2015 have yet to be encumbered or spent on DIF projects like the Bayside Fire Station and East Village Green Park.  Some of these projects have been on the books for over 10 years, although money has existed in DIF Reserve.

    These projects have stalled for years, and the City states in other documents that these projects will not start within the next 3 years because they are broke and do not have enough money even for preliminary designs.  Please help get the money flowing. We are claiming that since money have been hoarded in Reserves and not a penny of DIF cash has been spent in the last 10 years (since 2005), then the Fee should be considered a Special Tax, and the money returned because funds are not being used in a timely manner.  In addition, the Administrative costs are excessive, based upon zero projects funded in 10 years of collecting DIF revenue.

    These excessive Reserves that could be used immediately for infrastructure within the City of San Diego are similar to the $54 million in Reserves hoarded by the California Parks Departments which tried to closed down 70 of the state's 278  parks including Palomar Mountain State Park in 2012 due to supposed lack of money.  [$20 State Parks and Recreation Fund, and $33 million Off Highway Vehicle Fund Reserves.]

    Mandy Barre
    Mandy Barre subscriber

    Surprised no one mentioned water.

    Mark Giffin
    Mark Giffin subscribermember

    All of this is just great but comes down to "show me the money"

    We shall see if voters will pass a bond for infrastructure but with all the shenanigans (deferred maintenance, pension schemes, city drama, not implementing outsourcing and Unions blocking reforms I think the city is going to be hard pressed to pass a bond.

    Trust of city hall continues to be an issue.