Whenever a new class of eager, dedicated elected officials is ushered onto the San Diego City Council and a new Council president is elected, the community is hopeful and excited that a positive vision of a better future is articulated and implemented. We crave unity and kinship among our leaders to help move our community forward, bound by a common purpose of the public good. We want real democracy, a clean environment and a fair economy. We expect our next Council president to make that a reality.
After all, that is why we devote so much our time and energy to civic engagement, connecting individuals and families with one another, to share common interests and help lift each other up to achieve our hopes and dreams. This is especially true given the unprecedented upheaval at the national level. We know now more than ever that it is up to us at the local level to be the change we seek in our neighborhoods, schools and institutions.
Thus, whoever becomes our new City Council president must adopt a bold vision that preserves our quality of life and ensures all of our friends and neighbors have an opportunity to thrive and succeed, regardless of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, income or immigration status. The pillars of our vision are a set of rights that address our most pressing concerns, ensure all San Diegans are treated with dignity and respect, and propel us forward as a model for all cities to aspire to.
These pillars are:
The right to quality and affordable housing.
The right to peace, safety and justice in all neighborhoods.
The right to prosper and achieve one’s full potential.
The right to a quality neighborhood with affordable and reliable transportation.
The right to clean air, clean water and a livable climate.
The right to a true, responsive and accountable democracy.
Our foundation is a commitment to equity and justice for everyone.
These fundamental rights provide many policy opportunities for our new Council to advance. Bold solutions to our housing crisis so that families can afford a quality home, our children can aspire to owning or renting their first home, we can house the homeless, and no family is driven from their home due to skyrocketing rent. Policies to address biased policing, invest in purposeful action that will build trust between officers and our community, lower crime rates and reduced emergency response times. Good middle-class jobs, protections against wage theft and affordable childcare so no parent must choose between work and the well-being of their children. Accessible and well-maintained parks, sidewalks and safe roads, and transportation so our children can access the opportunities they need to fulfill their potential and reach their dreams. Immediate action to keep us on track to meet our climate goals and protect our neighborhoods from the threat of climate change. A more transparent and efficient government that is less influenced by narrow interests and more responsive to we, the people.
The sum of these changes is not only beautiful, but completely within our reach. It is also what we all deserve. We know that to reach this vision we will argue, disagree and debate vigorously about the finer points of implementation, but on these values we are 100 percent unified. We want what is best for the future of San Diego and all San Diegans and we want to move forward together.
There has been no time in recent history when unity has been more important than now. The stakes are too high to allow differences in opinion, matters of style or even rocky relationships stand in our way. Fortunately, we know we are up to this task. We know we have the resolve and commitment to rise above divisiveness and see our community’s vision become reality. We also know what happens when we work together — lives improve, families thrive and our city comes that much closer to what we know it can be.
In two years, what will we say as we look back at what this Council has accomplished? Skeptics say we are about to see more of the same. They say division and power grabs will rule the day. We say no to this cynical prognosis. We believe we will look back with pride at the moment we stood together, linked arms and advanced the rights of our friends, neighbors and families.
We, the undersigned organizations representing hundreds of thousands of San Diego families, call on our City Council to rise above differences and express solidarity with this vision. Environmentalists, community-based organizations, immigration and refugee advocates, social justice activists, labor, small business owners, parents, grandparents and children — we are all in this together. Stand with us, San Diego City Council.
The following organizations and prominent community members are signatories to this vision:
Alliance San Diego
American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties
Center on Policy Initiatives
City Heights Community Development Corporation
Climate Action Campaign
Environmental Health Coalition
Main Street Alliance of San Diego
Mid-City Community Advocacy Network
Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans
Richard Barrera, trustee, San Diego Unified School District
San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council
San Diego County Bicycle Coalition
San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council
The San Diego LGBT Community Center
Urban Collaborative Project
Diana Ross is executive editor of Mid-City Community Advocacy Network. Joe LaCava is a former chair of the Community Planners Committee. Nicole Capretz is executive director of Climate Action Campaign.