We’ve reproduced Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s State of the City speech below and annotated his comments with context and links, compiled by the VOSD staff, to help you better understand what the mayor said – and what he left out.
Click on the highlighted words for more details.
And if you’re curious about the state of the previous promises he’d made in prior speeches, check out this post.
Tonight is a night to come together …
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
The Mayor's statement is nicely vague, but here are some details he missed:
(1) Increasing homelessness is a direct result of profound changes to our local, state and national economies that rendered many individuals unable to compete in the workforce. From 1980-85, the increase was felt among single adults. From 1985 and onward, family homelessness became a constant acclerating component among the homeless. Welfare reform made it much worse. (Even Father Joe Carroll said this.) Shelters are not the answer because they force people outside with all their belongings, no money and nowhere to go for 8-12 hours per day. They are also good places to catch every disease going around. Street campers would not be so unsightly if (a) they had a better place to camp, and (b) the city would provide trashcans and portable bathrooms, or (c) more 24-hour shelters.
(2) If you want people to live near transit hubs, and you want to give developers a break by reducing fees and required parking spaces, please improve the bus system. Very few people have a situation in which they can go to work and NEVER have to go anywhere else during the workday or on the way home. Our bus system is designed to leave people in the dark, in the cold/heat, alone in unsafe places, or with geographic obstacles they cannot surmount in order to complete their journeys, to say nothing of the number of routes that take nearly two hours to cover ground that a car could cover in 10 minutes. And the transit system is expensive.
(3) Redevelopment was never a good solution to prevent or keep up with the need for affordable housing. It was a way for developers to select and subsidize large tracts of prime city blocks that pushed out people who needed the housing that was destroyed in favor of gentrification. And it provided very few options for low-income earners. Now that the city has the tax base back, there are more options we could pursue instead of just covering general fund priorities. San Diego has some excellent, experienced, knowledgeable housing advocates. Somebody should take them seriously.
(4) Finally, no amount of rhetoric or varnishing of truth will hide the fact that San Diego is becoming harder to live in. It's harder to get around in all the traffic. It's harder to afford in every possible way. It's harder to enjoy as everything we used to prize as coastal residents becomes more costly, more difficult to access, more restricted. Many, and perhaps most, San Diegans are struggling in some way, and we are looking for leadership that will help us understand how we are all connected and how we can help each other.
To me, that's the real state of the city.
Thank you for an excellent analysis.
In regard to homelessness: Faulconer made no new commitments to manage this crisis. His "3 in 1" ballot measure to fund a convention center expansion AND infrastructure AND address homelessness will take years, and places the responsibility on voters- thus avoiding any personal commitment to solving any of these challenges.
Also, the Mayor's office still doesn't understand there are major differences between permanent supportive housing and emergency shelters. Homeless men, women and children need permanent homes, with wrap-around services for healthcare, counseling, career/employment help, mental illness treatment etc. -not simply a place to sleep before being asked to leave in the morning.
Likewise, this focus on "market rate" housing will never address the regional affordability gap, and is a not-so-subtle signal to his developer friends that he will continue to make it easier for them to build - but not downtown. Meanwhile, he has refused to compel the use of redevelopment funding that Civic San Diego is hoarding, even though it was allocated for affordable/supportive housing in the downtown area.
And finally: Faulconer continues to direct SDPD to conduct sweeps, issue citations, and confiscate homeless people's property. This action is turning non-criminal homeless men and women into law-breakers, via encroachment citations and and stay-away orders. If they lose ID cards or other property in the sweeps, they not only have to pay to replace them, but in some cases, are not allowed into emergency shelters without proper identification.
So these sweeps, along with the placement of rocks under freeway bridges and the removal/closure of public restrooms (see: Faultline Park). make it more difficult- if not impossible- for homeless men and women to find shelter, have the basic dignity of a restroom, and qualify for assistance in certain programs.
In short: The Mayor's approach to homelessness is to continue to demonstrate a heartless and dangerous police response, and simply try to force homeless people out of downtown, where they are bothering hotel guests and convention center attendees.
Politics is an imperfect science. We ought to all be focused on truth. I believe the Mayor too be a good man. We may not always agree but it's best to be cordial and civil and always support one another when in agreement. Personal grudges unless warranted in severe reverse discrimination, bias and hate can be seen as a natural human reaction. I see none of that with Mayor Faulconer. I found the speech refreshing especially his off the cuff remarks on the housing crisis as I have been involved in real estate for 40 years. I am a candidate for D2 SD City Council and realize that only when pigs have wings will this Mayor endorse me. I'm a Democrat but harbor no ill feelings toward anyone only to those who are untruthful, dishonest, unfair, glad handing, insiders, club members and those supporting political cronyism. Danny D2 SD City Council !!! Please my fellow San Diegans, let us truly come together in the public good!! Danny