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After mentioning my new appointment as chair of the Housing and Community Development Committee, I realized I had not listed my committee assignments for the 2005-2006 legislative session.
During the last two years, I served on the Natural Resources Committee, Water, Parks & Wildlife Committee, Veterans Affairs Committee, and the Appropriations Committee.
People who associate me with the Sierra Club and other environmental causes can easily understand the first two assignments (Resources and Water). Appropriations served as a good overview of bills heading for a floor vote. We typically reviewed dozens of bills covering a diversity of topics during these Appropriation meetings.
But what many people may not know is that I was a military dependent (my dad served in the Marine Corps from 1944-1964). Serving on Veterans Affairs was a natural fit – I come from a family of service veterans.
I was born in San Diego, but lived in other states as my father was transferred around the country. When he retired, we settled back in San Diego in 1966. (His final deployment to Little Creek, Virginia, was in response to the Cuban missile crisis in the early 1960s. His Spanish skills were needed to work with Cuban military officers who spoke limited English.)
That family background, plus serving on Veterans Affairs, encourages me to work on legislation and issues that have an impact on veterans and military families throughout the state. Information on these bills is available at a very useful website- LegInfo. Simply enter the name of the legislator, or the number of the bill, to see a listing and retrieve a history of Senate and Assembly legislation from the current and previous sessions.
My experiences also contributed to my interest in the proposed development of the Broadway Complex. To that end, I chair a Subcommittee on Base Closures and Redevelopment, and held an informational hearing in San Diego on Aug. 18. We invited the public to attend and comment on the future plans for the Broadway Complex and listen to experts on public land issues.
To set the tone for this hearing I prepared a commentary, “The future of San Diego’s waterfront,” that appeared in the Union-Tribune.
It offered a brief history of coastal development issues in California and some of new challenges we face on San Diego Bay. We are fortunate that our original state constitution, and the California Coastal Act, guarantees Californians certain rights to access and enjoy our beaches and waterways.
The military is the largest employer in San Diego, and our county receives the highest amount of veteran benefits in the state. I work with representatives of organizations such as our County Veterans Service Officers and the Veterans Village of San Diego. Both offer invaluable resources for men and women who served in the military, ensuring they have access to the benefits and services they have earned for themselves and their families.
The military is also the largest land holder around San Diego bay, and I believe that, as the military changes its mission and operations (especially in this age of terrorism), we need to begin moving military buildings away from dense civilian populations and locate them in secure locations that are more easily defended, and will keep civilians out of harm’s way in case of an attack.
The current Navy Broadway Complex is now surrounded by a very different neighborhood than what existed in 1992, when the current plans for it were drafted. Downtown now contains thousands of new homes (high rise condos), schools for these resident families, community parks, a science museum aimed a students (the USS Midway), and popular walkways along the waterfront. San Diego Bay is a magnet for residents and visitors alike who want to enjoy the harbor views.
Given all this: does it make sense to maintain an office for military services that could become a target for a terrorist attack?
From an economic perspective: does it make sense to build a massive hotel and commercial business complex to fund a new building for Naval Operations? I believe taxpayers already support the Department of Defense via our federal tax dollars. The Manchester proposal would create a double tax situation for funding these new Navy buildings.
For all these reasons, not to mention the opinions of a panel of experts who recently convened in San Diego, I encourage residents to contact the Mayor and City Council, and ask them to direct the CCDC to come up with another alternative to the current proposal.
I welcome your ideas – what do you think would best contribute to the future of our downtown waterfront?