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San Diego Mayor Shows City’s Growing Strength in State of the City Address

-Editorial

During his fourth State of the City address, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria highlighted the work made by his administration in addressing key concerns such as public safety, homelessness, housing affordability, and infrastructure in San Diego. The Mayor, reflecting on the challenges faced during the pandemic, emphasized the city’s evolving strength, stating, “The state of our city is getting stronger every day.”

Mayor Gloria outlined several significant announcements, including a new executive order expediting permits for affordable housing projects under the Complete Communities program, a major expansion of homeless shelter options to add 1,000 beds by 2025, and support for amending Proposition 47 to address crime trends related to drug trade and organized theft.

The redevelopment of the old Central Library into shelter space and affordable housing, the initiation of “Peter Seidler Way” in honor of the late Padres chairman’s efforts to combat homelessness, and the launch of the philanthropic campaign “San Diegans Together Tackling Homelessness” were also unveiled.

Highlighting achievements in public safety, Mayor Gloria emphasized the city’s status as one of the safest in the country, with decreases in serious crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, and burglary. The Mayor discussed initiatives like the first-of-its-kind childcare facility for police officers and the use of Smart Streetlights and Automated License Plate Recognition technologies.

Addressing the issue of homelessness, Mayor Gloria detailed actions taken in 2023, including the Safe Sleeping Program, which successfully moved over 600 people off the streets, and the implementation of the Unsafe Camping Ordinance. Collaborative efforts resulted in the placement of over 1,400 formerly homeless individuals into permanent housing.

Collaborating with City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera, the city enacted a Tenant Protection Ordinance and boosted funding for rental assistance programs to curb evictions. In his role as chair of the bipartisan California Big City Mayors coalition, Mayor Gloria championed successful legislation, sponsored by State Senator Susan Eggman, to reform conservatorship laws, extending support to those severely mentally ill and unable to meet their basic needs. The efforts further included the development of a comprehensive shelter strategy, analyzing current options and potential locations in the short, medium, and long terms. Hosting 17 Coordinated Access to Resource and Engagement (CARE) events, the city facilitated 2,475 individuals in connecting with essential services, demonstrating their commitment to addressing the diverse needs of the community.

On the issue of housing, the Mayor reported a 51% increase in permitted homes in 2023, with approximately one-third being deed-restricted affordable housing. Policies like the Affordable Housing Permit Now program, designed to expedite permit reviews for affordable housing projects, contributed to this progress. The City also invested $15.4 million in gap-financing assistance through the Bridge to Home initiative, supporting five affordable housing projects totaling 400 homes.

Mayor Gloria highlighted significant strides in infrastructure, including the repair or resurfacing of 252 miles of roadway in 2023, a 20% increase over the previous year. The City addressed potholes with a 94% increase in fills compared to the prior year. Policy reforms, such as the updated Street Preservation Ordinance, aimed to ensure responsible restoration of roads by public and private utilities.

Implemented the Beach Bug Shuttle Program for improved access to beach communities via the new Blue Line trolley extension. Phase 1 of the Gaslamp Promenade project was completed, featuring bollards to restrict car access during specific times. The Street Preservation Ordinance was updated to ensure that utilities restoring roads after excavation maintain or enhance their condition. A comprehensive pavement-condition study was conducted to guide prioritized street repairs. City Council approved the Safe Sidewalks program, assisting property owners in sidewalk repairs at reduced costs. Additionally, the city opened four new parks and upgraded 10 others in 2023, with plans for 16 new parks and 34 upgrades in the next two years. Nearly 50% of Phase 1 of Pure Water San Diego was accomplished, encompassing nine major projects for new treatment facilities, pump stations, and extensive pipe networks in northern San Diego.

Mayor Gloria acknowledged the ongoing work ahead, expressing a collective vision for a better San Diego. Despite the challenges, he affirmed the city’s progress and commitment to creating a vibrant future for residents, “San Diego, we’re making progress toward it every single day.”

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