VOSD Podcast: What to Watch for as the Budget Moves Forward - Voice of San Diego

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VOSD Podcast: What to Watch for as the Budget Moves Forward

This week on the VOSD podcast, hosts Scott Lewis and Sara Libby talk about the coronavirus impact on San Diego’s air quality, homelessness and the mayor’s budget proposal — one unlike any that’s preceded it.

Independent Budget Analyst Andrea Tevlin / Photo by Sam Hodgson

We’ve all been driving less these last few weeks. And it’s made a difference.

From this same time a year ago, traffic is down 60 percent. As roads have cleared up, so too has the air.

This week, VOSD reporter MacKenzie Elmer found out that there’s been a sizable drop in pollutants because of all the driving we’re not doing.

Yet the city’s Climate Action Plan doesn’t actually include mandates or goals related to teleworking — it simply envisions far more San Diegans will commute to work by biking, walking or taking transit. But all the teleworking that’s become normal is looking like a more viable option. Hosts Scott Lewis and Sara Libby dug into how the virus could impact the region’s response to climate change.

Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3 …

Despite repeated claims that San Diego’s coronavirus testing capacity is going up, the number of tests being performed has actually gone down.

Experts and elected officials say widespread testing is the most important factor to easing coronavirus restrictions.

But San Diego’s guidance still recommends only the sickest people should be tested. One county official said hospitals are likely not testing to their full capacity as they should be.

Now’s Your Chance

Mayor Kevin Faulconer released his proposed budget this week, and it’s pretty grim. There are still negotiations to be done with the City Council and details to iron out.

For some perspective on how things could shake out, Lewis spoke with the city’s independent budget analyst, Andrea Tevlin, who confirmed that the city does not have a cashflow problem right now; it can still pay the bills. But Faulconer in this week’s budget draft proposed dipping into the city’s $200 million reserve — pulling out around $54 million for the coming year.

Some of the toughest discussions ahead, Tevlin said, will be about service reductions. Rec centers, libraries, parks and arts programs are all facing cuts. But nothing is final yet. Now is the time for folks to tell the city what they want.

“We really need to have people participate,” she said. “It’s so critical. That’s what we look for in the budget. Aside from the Council’s priorities, we look at the community priorities. Call your Council members. Call the mayor, and really get your input in there so that they know what you’re feeling about this.”

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