Mayoral contenders David Alvarez and Kevin Faulconer have released a series of wonky plans to tackle city problems in hopes of earning your vote.

Each hefty document the candidates have produced aims to show they’ve got the best ideas for the city but most are long reads filled with lots of complex concepts.

I sliced and diced each of the mayoral plans to save you some time.

Kevin Faulconer’s Plans

Faulconer has released seven detailed plans. Here are our top takeaways from each of them.

Housing for All

The gist: Faulconer wants to push for more community plan updates to ease expensive roadblocks for builders and find other ways to streamline permitting and city regulatory processes when it comes to building new homes or affordable housing.

He’d also like to work with state and local lawmakers to reform tax credit processes associated with building affordable housing and to reform the national funding formula used to calculate San Diego’s homelessness grant eligibility.

The most intriguing idea: Faulconer suggests creating an online regional database to match homeless San Diegans with open shelter beds and housing that best meets their needs. Such information is not always readily available today.

One San Diego Plan

The gist: This plan focuses on revitalizing neighborhoods – particularly those south of Interstate 8 – that have historically seen less public and private investment. Faulconer wants to drive development in these communities by creating economic opportunity districts, a concept that cities elsewhere have embraced.

In these districts, he’d work to streamline permitting and city reviews, encourage affordable housing projects by adding incentivizes for developers and create a community investment fund in hopes of drawing more public-private partnerships for neighborhood projects.

The most intriguing idea: Faulconer wants to work with financial institutions and add grant writers to help the city seek outside funding for infrastructure needs, including from federal New Market Tax Credits.

Transparency First Plan

The gist: Faulconer’s open government blueprint centers on outside reviews, including one that’s already under way and another that seems likely to at least partly accomplish Faulconer’s goals.

The first is an audit of public information and data policies that Faulconer previously recommended. The second involves a group recently assembled to advise the city on open data policies. Faulconer’s plan called for a team of open government experts to review the city’s public records policies and procedures. Faulconer says he’d work to implement both groups’ recommendations.

Faulconer also wants to create an open government team that would work closely with the city clerk, city spokespeople, public records coordinators and the city technology staffers.

The most intriguing idea: Faulconer wants to modernize the city’s website and to post more public information online but he doesn’t specify exactly what documents he thinks should be available or what parts of the city’s website could use an overhaul.

Strong and Safe Neighborhoods Plan

The gist: This roadmap focuses almost entirely on the Police Department’s 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 has a sticker price of more than $50 million.

IDEAS Plan to Grow San Diego’s Economy (Invest, Develop, Educate, Attract, Streamline)

The gist: Faulconer’s most detailed 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 for 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.

Streets and Neighborhood Repair Plan

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 fixes. 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. But while Faulconer’s plan suggests the city shouldn’t continue to rely on loans to pay repairs, he relies on them to cover the majority of projects. At the same time, he opposes an infrastructure megabond that could bring in additional infrastructure cash.

Neighborhood Fairness Plan

The gist: Faulconer pledges to up the city’s investment in its neighborhoods, particularly those that have been most neglected. (He doesn’t define which specific communities fall into this category in this plan. In his Housing for All roadmap, however, he touched on the challenges for older communities, including many south of Interstate 8, that have fewer funding sources for infrastructure needs.)

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 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.


David Alvarez’s Plans

While Faulconer has released a series of topic-based plans, Alvarez presented most of his ideas in one 22-page roadmap. He’s since released his strategy for addressing homelessness and a handful of less-detailed priority lists.

Blueprint for San Diego’s Future

On neighborhoods

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.

On jobs

The gist: Alvarez 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 city programs for small businesses and advocate for additional state and city resources. (He’s already created such an advisory group to provide input on his mayoral campaign.)

The most intriguing idea: Alvarez wants to create a public-private partnership known as GrowSD 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. His plan suggests GrowSD will identify prime areas for redevelopment and create implantation plans within six months of Alvarez’s first day in office.

On schools

The gist:  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 Arts 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.

On water security

The gist: Alvarez wants to reduce the city’s reliance on outside water sources by investing in an advanced water purification system and new facilities to produce safe, locally sourced water over the long haul. He’d also like to create a 10-year plan to stop discharging wastewater into the ocean, an act that requires waivers the city has received since the 1990s.

He’d also like to explore renewable energy projects to cut down energy bills that add to city water costs and to create a water rate structure that incentivizes conservation. (The City Council – including Alvarez – voted to add a fourth water usage tier to try to encourage less use weeks after Alvarez released his blueprint. It’s not clear if he’d seek a more dramatic overhaul in the future.)

The most intriguing idea:  Alvarez plans to crack down on polluters by upping the number of code enforcement teams who monitor such infractions and partnering with community groups that can help monitor the city’s waterways.

On a sustainable city

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 environmental policies.

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.

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.

Post script: Since this plan was released, Alvarez and former Councilwoman Donna Frye proposed a potential charter amendment for the June ballot. The measure would ensure digital modes of communication  by city officials and workers would be subject to records requests and require the city to provide a written explanation when it refuses to release documents, among other potential changes.

Blueprint to Support San Diego’s Homeless

The gist: Alvarez doesn’t want to lump all homeless communities together. He’d like to analyze the needs of San Diego’s different homeless communities and work to address the root causes behind their plight. He’d also like to increase the availability of affordable and subsidized housing by incentivizing construction, though he doesn’t explain how he’ll do this.

The most intriguing idea: Alvarez wants to work more closely with the county’s Health and Human Services department to seek funding for alcohol and drug treatment, mental health counseling, job training and more.

Alvarez’s Priority Lists

Alvarez only has two major plans but he’s also laid out some goals in four mini-plans. Here is a snapshot of those.

• Within his first 100 days in office, Alvarez plans to hold neighborhood summits with community groups across the city to create neighborhood priorities for each community.

• Alvarez promised to push to build new fire stations in high-risk areas spotlighted in a 2011 response-time study, provide an extra ambulance in fire stations that need them and add more civilian staffers to assist firefighters on calls.

• Alvarez pledged to review city contracts to ensure women and minority-owned businesses get a fair shake and to ensure gender parity in city appointments, hiring and mayoral promotions. He’d also like to prioritize community services such as day care and after-school programs that families and working mothers rely on.

• Alvarez committed to hire a veteran affairs director that will work with the Navy and the Marines to connect returning service members with jobs, training programs and assistance from nonprofits.

Corrections: An earlier version of this post misstated the spending associated with the five-year police department plan, which totals roughly $52.1 million. 

Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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