Whenever a new class of eager, dedicated elected officials is ushered onto the San Diego City Council and a new Council president is elected, the community is hopeful and excited that a positive vision of a better future is articulated and implemented. We crave unity and kinship among our leaders to help move our community forward, bound by a common purpose of the public good. We want real democracy, a clean environment and a fair economy. We expect our next Council president to make that a reality.

Commentary - in-story logoAfter all, that is why we devote so much our time and energy to civic engagement, connecting individuals and families with one another, to share common interests and help lift each other up to achieve our hopes and dreams. This is especially true given the unprecedented upheaval at the national level. We know now more than ever that it is up to us at the local level to be the change we seek in our neighborhoods, schools and institutions.

Thus, whoever becomes our new City Council president must adopt a bold vision that preserves our quality of life and ensures all of our friends and neighbors have an opportunity to thrive and succeed, regardless of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, income or immigration status. The pillars of our vision are a set of rights that address our most pressing concerns, ensure all San Diegans are treated with dignity and respect, and propel us forward as a model for all cities to aspire to.

These pillars are:

The right to quality and affordable housing.

The right to peace, safety and justice in all neighborhoods.

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

The right to prosper and achieve one’s full potential.

The right to a quality neighborhood with affordable and reliable transportation.

The right to clean air, clean water and a livable climate.

The right to a true, responsive and accountable democracy.

Our foundation is a commitment to equity and justice for everyone.

These fundamental rights provide many policy opportunities for our new Council to advance. Bold solutions to our housing crisis so that families can afford a quality home, our children can aspire to owning or renting their first home, we can house the homeless, and no family is driven from their home due to skyrocketing rent. Policies to address biased policing, invest in purposeful action that will build trust between officers and our community, lower crime rates and reduced emergency response times. Good middle-class jobs, protections against wage theft and affordable childcare so no parent must choose between work and the well-being of their children. Accessible and well-maintained parks, sidewalks and safe roads, and transportation so our children can access the opportunities they need to fulfill their potential and reach their dreams. Immediate action to keep us on track to meet our climate goals and protect our neighborhoods from the threat of climate change. A more transparent and efficient government that is less influenced by narrow interests and more responsive to we, the people.

The sum of these changes is not only beautiful, but completely within our reach. It is also what we all deserve. We know that to reach this vision we will argue, disagree and debate vigorously about the finer points of implementation, but on these values we are 100 percent unified. We want what is best for the future of San Diego and all San Diegans and we want to move forward together.

There has been no time in recent history when unity has been more important than now. The stakes are too high to allow differences in opinion, matters of style or even rocky relationships stand in our way. Fortunately, we know we are up to this task. We know we have the resolve and commitment to rise above divisiveness and see our community’s vision become reality. We also know what happens when we work together — lives improve, families thrive and our city comes that much closer to what we know it can be.

In two years, what will we say as we look back at what this Council has accomplished? Skeptics say we are about to see more of the same. They say division and power grabs will rule the day. We say no to this cynical prognosis. We believe we will look back with pride at the moment we stood together, linked arms and advanced the rights of our friends, neighbors and families.

We, the undersigned organizations representing hundreds of thousands of San Diego families, call on our City Council to rise above differences and express solidarity with this vision. Environmentalists, community-based organizations, immigration and refugee advocates, social justice activists, labor, small business owners, parents, grandparents and children — we are all in this together. Stand with us, San Diego City Council.

The following organizations and prominent community members are signatories to this vision:

Alliance San Diego

American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties

Center on Policy Initiatives

City Heights Community Development Corporation

Climate Action Campaign

Environmental Health Coalition

Main Street Alliance of San Diego

Mid-City Community Advocacy Network

Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans

Richard Barrera, trustee, San Diego Unified School District

San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council

San Diego County Bicycle Coalition

San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council

Think Dignity

The San Diego LGBT Community Center

Urban Collaborative Project

Diana Ross is executive editor of Mid-City Community Advocacy Network. Joe LaCava is a former chair of the Community Planners Committee. Nicole Capretz is executive director of Climate Action Campaign.

    This article relates to: City Council, Opinion

    Written by Opinion

    Op-eds and Letters to the Editor on the issues that matter in San Diego. Have something to say? Submit a commentary.

    rhylton subscriber

    This publication has skated past the issue of biased policing, as have the commenters. Too hot? 

    Sean M
    Sean M subscriber

    "The stakes are too high to allow ***differences in opinion****, matters of style or even rocky relationships stand in our way."

    This quote from the piece seems a tad totalitarian. It you disagree, get out of their way.

    bgetzel subscriber

    When your roof is leaking, you have to fix it. Fixing it costs money. As an individual you have to determine the source of that money. Similar with the public issues - how can we find the funds to fix the roads, house the homeless and facilitate the provision of affordable housing? I, for one, am willing to pay an extra few sheckles for these things (re; "fixing the roof), but the law requires that raising taxes must be done through a public vote. There will be those that ae willing to continue to live with poor roads, an  increasing homeless population and housing costs that make it difficult to live here for us and our children, We wil all have to live with the results of votes on these measures, if such are proposed. The problem I have is that  no local politician is even proposing that we address these issues through the ballot box. Five cities in California had propositions on the ballot this fall that addressed homelessness. San Diego, which has the largest homeless population per capita of any city in the state (and third or fourth in the country) did not have such a measure. Let's let the public decide if our festering problems should be addressed through increased funding (i.e. increased taxes). 

    David Crossley
    David Crossley subscriber

    @bgetzel  --Too busy trying to get a convadium-thingy passed for the Chargers.  All about priorities.

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    @bgetzel Don't leave us hanging here.  Which are the five Ca;lifornia cities that had ballot propositions to deal with homelessness, and how did they turn out?

    philip piel
    philip piel subscriber

    Instead of the right to compete we now what the right of results regardless of an individual's effort / motivation. The entity that will provide these results is the government. The same government that runs the DMV, IRS, Border Patrol and our Social Security Administration is going to provide you with a lifestyle, sounds good huh?

    I noticed Richard Barrera of the San Diego Unified School district signed on endorsing this, Dick why did you vote for a construction labor deal on school projects that denies local state approved non-union apprentices the opportunity to work? Dick, are you saying the well being of "undocumented immigrants" is a higher priority than local US citizens? Dick, when speaking of a quality of life and the opportunity to achieve did you mean everyone except those that have committed the crime of choosing to work non-union?

    Ah, I see another entity that supposedly represents "the people," The Building Trades Union. Perhaps the title of this article should be changed, I can think of a few different titles, how about "Fairness and equality for all as long as you're paying union dues?"

    "Progressives," nope, just another special interest movement using catch phrases and slogans to promote a movement that penalizes the motivated to subsidize the entitled.

    Mark Giffin
    Mark Giffin subscribermember


    Hold on to your wallet because the progressives want to take it.

    Oscar Ramos
    Oscar Ramos subscribermember

    Yes! I agree with all of this!

    Sean M
    Sean M subscriber

    The idea of rights has changed over the centuries. The bill of rights refers to actions nobody can prevent you from doing, like speaking, believing in religion etc. Other people may not appreciate what other people believe, but they cant force someone to think differently. This is not controversial.

    Now the term Rights has been conflated with Wants and needs. Nothing wrong with wanting products or services, but it's quite debatable if one person should be required to pay for other people's housing and transportation. Obligations imposed on one group should not be considered another group's right.

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    @Sean M Amen!  Everyone has the right to quality and affordable housing, quality heath care, peace, safety, justice and the American Way, etc., etc.

    And, by the way, “Hooray for Unity”.

    The question, of course, is “who pays for this stuff”.  Progressives are long on lofty goals and a bit short on details.  If you want the taxpayers to subsidize this stuff, say so and indicate how you intend to bring this about.

    Mark Giffin
    Mark Giffin subscribermember

    @Sean M 

    Mission creep on steroids.

    Bill is right.

    "The question, of course, is “who pays for this stuff”.  Progressives are long on lofty goals and a bit short on details.  If you want the taxpayers to subsidize this stuff, say so and indicate how you intend to bring this about."

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    @Derek Hofmann @Bill Bradshaw I thunk I just got accused of being a conservative, so here goes:  The so-called "cycle of poverty" is an intellectual construct that puts the burden of getting off the poverty train on "society", not the individual.  It doesn't work. I don't feel I have anything to explain.  I'll tell you a couple of things I believe hinder individuals getting steady work, which is the key to them breaking their personal cycle of poverty:

    1.  Minimum wage laws that encourage small businesses to automate rather than hire inexperienced or flawed workers, like, e.g., ex-cons or people with severe disabilities.

    2.  Mandatory pay rules like the one the legislature just passed that require farm workers be paid premium pay for any work over 8 hours in a day, regardless of how many hours are worked in a week.  This is one of Lorena Gonzalez' great "achievements"but she must have neglected talking to farmers about automation already available to reduce the number of workers needed on farms. 

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    @Bill Bradshaw "The so-called "cycle of poverty" is an intellectual construct that puts the burden of getting off the poverty train on "society", not the individual."

    Did you know that poverty places a greater cognitive burden on the poor than the wealthy? Here's proof: http://www.citylab.com/work/2013/08/how-poverty-taxes-brain/6716/

    So if you believe that we should all play on a level playing field, then logically you must also agree that society must share the burden of breaking the cycle of poverty.

    philip piel
    philip piel subscriber

    @Derek Hofmann @Bill Bradshaw

    The problem with sharing is we share the results, not the choices. A true advocate / fiduciary for tax payers doesn't exist when it comes to social benefit programs. 

    Sean M
    Sean M subscriber

    @Bill Bradshaw Some of those rights are contradictory, you can have higher wages or affordable childcare, but not both. The authors' lament about affordable housing seems disingenuous because they support rules and restrictions that make it more expensive to build or own homes, keeping housing scarce and expensive. The UT's piece on expediting affordable housing construction points out the costs and delays associated with the citys environmental review process.

    There is no limit to what people want and need and there is no limit to rights.

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    @Derek Hofmann @Bill Bradshaw No, Derek, I didn't know that poverty places more cognative burden on the poor than the wealthy;  I've never been either so I'm not in a position to judge.  But, after skimming through your referenced article, I have a question: Who funds bovine scatology like this?