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Faulconer Boosts Housing Efforts, Convention Center in Last SOTC

Mayor Kevin Faulconer delivers his 2020 State of the City speech. / Photo by Megan Wood

This post originally appeared in the Jan. 16 Morning Report [1]. Get the Morning Report delivered to your inbox [2].

Mayor Kevin Faulconer promised to continue to focus on addressing the city’s homelessness and housing crises in his final State of the City address on Wednesday night.

And he said he was done being politically correct about homelessness.

“What I’m talking about tonight is obvious to almost anyone walking our streets but considered politically incorrect by many insiders. These are ideas that most people in power actually believe in, but are afraid to say, let alone do,” Faulconer said. “Drug laws that hurt people, tragic mental illness, public health scares, a historic housing shortage …They all must be addressed to solve the homeless crisis.”

Faulconer committed Wednesday to championing reforms to state policies he said have hampered cities’ ability to aid homeless Californians struggling with addiction. He did not elaborate on the specifics of those efforts Wednesday night but cited Proposition 47, which reduced many drug crimes to misdemeanors, and Proposition 57, which led to an overhaul of the state’s prison parole system.

The mayor said he also plans to work with county officials to open a county-run shelter, move people with substance abuse issues into residential care and deploy mental health teams at existing city shelters. County spokespeople did not immediately respond to requests from VOSD about those initiatives on Wednesday night.

On Faulconer’s watch, the city has ramped up police enforcement [3] affecting homeless San Diegans, an approach that advocates and the city’s new homelessness action plan have scrutinized [4]. He’s also vastly expanded homeless services [5] in the city and pursued a slew of reforms to try to address lagging housing production, particularly for middle-class and low-income San Diegans.

Faulconer pledged to stay committed to those efforts in his final year in office.

He said he plans to push forward this spring a series of reforms he’s dubbed his Complete Communities initiative [6] that are meant to encourage more homebuilding citywide, particularly near transit stops.

The mayor also encouraged city voters to back Measure C [7], a March hotel-tax measure that would fund a Convention Center expansion, homeless initiatives and road repairs. He noted that the measure would provide the city’s first dedicated funding for homelessness and road repairs and pay for a Convention Center expansion supporters have said would bolster the local economy.

“If you can’t believe this is the 10th State of the City when a mayor talks about the Convention Center expansion [8], you can make it the last time by voting ‘yes’ on Measure C,” Faulconer joked.