Photo by Sam Hodgson
Mayoral candidates Kevin Faulconer, Nathan Fletcher and David Alvarez at a debate in Barrio Logan.
If you want to run for mayor, you’d better be ready to share your plans.
The top three mayoral candidates have released a flurry of them in recent weeks, each hoping to show they’ve got the best vision for the city.
Struggling to keep up? I read each mayoral roadmap and pulled out key highlights so you don’t have to.
Kevin Faulconer’s Plans
The gist: This blueprint focuses almost entirely on the Police Department’s recent struggle to hire enough officers to replace those who leave.
The most intriguing idea: Faulconer wants to speed up recruiting and hiring by assigning a dedicated personnel department staffer to assist, and to bring in retired staffers to work part time on background investigations of potential new officers.
Faulconer also promises to stand by the staffing and equipment needs laid out in the Police Department’s five-year plan, which come with a $66 million sticker price.
What’s missing: Like all the top candidates, Faulconer wants to find ways to make Police Department compensation more competitive with other agencies. He recommends studying ways to reduce officers’ health care costs but doesn’t specify other ways to close the pay gap.
IDEAS Plan to Grow San Diego’s Economy (Invest, Develop, Educate, Attract, Streamline)
The gist: Faulconer’s heftiest mayoral plan is his blueprint to attract and keep jobs in the city. It’s also the one that features the most pledges.
Faulconer’s promises include a commitment to seek a 50 percent increase in federal grants by 2020 to support technological advances and create jobs, and to increase local trade with Mexico and the Pacific Rim by 300 percent over the next decade.
Other pieces of Faulconer’s plan drive home positions he’s championed recently. For example, Faulconer has pledged to protect maritime jobs he claims are threatened by a new community plan in Barrio Logan. Faulconer vowed to conduct a study of industrial land, particularly in areas that house maritime jobs and to use its conclusions to create policies that protect manufacturing jobs on which the industry relies.
The most intriguing idea: Faulconer’s plan nods to a common theme in other mayoral plans: the need to cut bureaucratic time-sucks. His most innovative idea is to create master environmental impact reports that cover geographic areas so individual businesses don’t have to foot the bill for such analyses.
The gist: This plan is all about infrastructure upgrades in the city.
In it, Faulconer capitalizes on some plans that are already laid out. For example, he’d like to use previously planned assessments of city facilities and sidewalks to create a multi-year blueprint for infrastructure spending.
The city’s infrastructure subcommittee, led by Councilman Mark Kersey, is already working to build that roadmap.
The most intriguing idea: Where Faulconer’s plan differs from what’s already been set out is his commitment to spend at least $180 million a year on infrastructure repairs and to direct half of new city revenues from projected growth to street and sidewalk repairs. This is significant, because the City Council’s five-year plan only committed to $150 million to $163 million in infrastructure investments each of the next three years.
Faulconer also wants to add grant writers and work with financial institutions and the city’s lobbyists to seek outside funding for infrastructure needs, including from federal New Market Tax Credits.
The gist: Faulconer pledges to up the city’s investment in its neighborhoods, particularly those that have been most neglected.
To do this, he says he’d invest in public safety needs, including delayed emergency response times in some parts of the city, increase out-of-school opportunities for students and commit to ensure the most overlooked neighborhoods get first priority.
The most intriguing idea: Faulconer suggests pursuing joint-use agreements with San Diego Unified School District to provide additional after-school activities in city recreation centers and libraries.
Nathan Fletcher’s Plans
The gist: Fletcher’s roadmap centers on one goal: He wants to help create 130,000 jobs in the region over the next six years. That’s about 26,000 more jobs than SANDAG, the county’s regional planning agency, estimated would be created between 2008 and 2020.
Fletcher says he’ll create them via a series of pledges that come with defined timeframes.
For example, he commits to calling every San Diego-area life science company acquired by new ownership within the past 24 months to urge them to stay in the region and to secure at least one major manufacturing firm in Otay Mesa by 2017. He’d also said he’d announce plans for a Pacific Rim Reverse Trade Summit to bolster economic connections, and an annual Mayor’s Economic Summit within his first 100 days.
Fletcher also said he’d create a handful of new programs to groom potential workers for San Diego’s top industries and regularly evaluate the city’s performance on economic indicators such as its level of exports or changes in median income.
The most intriguing idea: Fletcher wants to launch the San DiegoFirst program to match unemployed residents with companies that have job openings within their skill sets. Any San Diegan out of work for more than 90 days would be eligible for the program.
The gist: Like his jobs plan, Fletcher begins this blueprint with two central goals: Add 160 new officers, and cut police attrition in half by 2016.
His ideas here are similar to Faulconer’s. Fletcher promises to improve police compensation and suggests looking at ways to reduce officers’ out-of-pocket-costs. He also promotes the need to create metrics and goals for police recruitment and retention, and to bolster recruiting resources.
If elected, Fletcher also said he’d call for the city auditor to perform a complete study of Police Department staffing and ensure the agency meets necessary staffing metrics.
The most intriguing idea: Fletcher emphasizes the need to invest in police infrastructure and equipment. One option, Fletcher wrote, would be to promote partnerships with local businesses to reopen Police Department neighborhood storefronts that were shuttered because of budget cuts.
What’s missing: Like Faulconer, Fletcher doesn’t offer specifics on ways to improve police compensation.
The gist: Fletcher’s eight-point plan focuses on potential solutions to protect the city’s water quality and natural resources and proposes creating a stakeholder group to serve as a pool for more ideas.
He promises to pursue indirect potable reuse projects, which treat wastewater and provide additional drinking water, and to more aggressively investigate and punish violators of environmental laws.
The most intriguing idea: Fletcher commits to establishing a Mayor’s Environmental Advisory Council composed of academics and environmentalists and to work with stakeholders, including research groups and city agencies, to publish an annual report on the state of the environment.
David Alvarez’s Big Plan
While his rivals have released a series of plans focused on a specific issue, Alvarez presented his 22-page roadmap for the city in a one fell swoop.
The gist: The city’s infrastructure needs got top billing in Alvarez’s plan. He suggests the city look for new funding sources, such as voter-approved general obligation bonds and public-private partnerships, to help clear the infrastructure backlog that likely totals more than $1 billion.
Alvarez also said the city needs to increase its investment in police compensation and to commit to necessary equipment and personnel for the fire department, including 19 new stations, to improve emergency response times.
The most intriguing idea: Alvarez wants to create a program that would require inspections of multi-family rental properties to ensure landlords follow key code requirements. Properties that don’t meet city standards would be forced to redirect rent money to an escrow account the city could use to repair properties and allow the city to seek receivership of problem properties.
The gist: So far, Alvarez is the only candidate to make education a central part of his mayoral platform.
Alvarez promises to form partnerships with area school districts to share park space with the city and to propose a citywide arts program as part of the city’s Art and Culture Commission to expose students to music, theater and visual arts.
The most intriguing idea: He sets a bold goal to make 10,000 internships available to San Diego Unified high school students by working with businesses, and chairing the district’s Career and Technical Education Advisory Committee.
The gist: Like his fellow mayoral contenders, Alvarez also seeks to grow the city’s cross-border economy, collaborate with San Diego’s top industries and bolster resources for small businesses. Alvarez plans to create a small-business task force to review current city programs for small businesses to determine needs and advocate for additional state and city resources.
The most intriguing idea: Alvarez wants to create a public-private partnership known as Grow SD between the city, financial institutions, foundations, nonprofits and Civic San Diego to spur investment in under-developed neighborhoods. Alvarez suggests the city use $80 million in existing state and federal funds and seek New Market Tax Credits and cash from outside entities to support new projects and thus, jobs.
On environmental sustainability and water security
The gist: Alvarez commits to pushing for environmental reforms, green-collar jobs and low- or no-emission transit. He also promises to hire a sustainability director and create an environmental working group to ensure the city takes a proactive approach on policies that have an environmental impact.
He pledges to help the city adopt a Property Assessed Clean Energy program that allows commercial and residential property owners to more easily invest in energy-efficiency upgrades, and to streamline permitting processes to install solar panels on homes and businesses.
The most intriguing idea: Alvarez wants to create a Vision Zero campaign with a goal of zero bicycle and pedestrian fatalities on city streets. As part of the program, Alvarez wants to increase spending on bicycling facilities to $1 million.
What’s missing: Alvarez makes water security a priority but doesn’t offer many specific solutions.
For example, he mentions he wants to create a water-rate structure that incentivizes water conservation, invest in an advanced water-purification system and upgrade the city’s stormwater system but doesn’t spell out details.
On government transparency
The gist: Alvarez promises to make decisions in public view.
Alvarez pledges to negotiate multi-year agreements with city unions and contractors to allow more clarity on annual expenses and ensure the city can maintain services.
Alvarez said he’d also hire staffers to oversee public records requests and make responding to them a priority.
The most intriguing idea: Alvarez said he’d post frequently requested city documents online and levy fees against city agencies that regularly delay requests and post frequently requested documents online.
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