Meetings of government agencies can be intimidating and unwelcoming, especially for a place like San Diego where people wear flip-flops without shame.
So says Serge Dedina, the laid-back mayor of Imperial Beach. Dedina joined the podcast this week to talk to hosts Scott Lewis and Sara Libby about the importance of political “broing out.”
He said politicians could learn a thing or two from the casual community conversations that happen among surfers and other folks at the beach. He said he’s been working on making Imperial Beach’s city meetings more inviting and welcoming so he can get more of his working-class constituents to feel comfortable getting involved.
He also sits on the SANDAG board, and said the regional transportation agency should do more to make its meetings feel more welcoming.
“We need to bring some of that down-home San Diego bro-out culture back to our institutions so people feel like they have ownership,” Dedina said.
Dedina also talked about the poverty that plagues Imperial Beach, common misconceptions of the life on the border, his thoughts on the SANDAG reform bill and water quality, an issue that’s especially important to the mayor. His other job is executive director of Wildcoast, an international nonprofit that works to conserve coastal and marine ecosystems and wildlife.
Dedina stepped into the national spotlight recently after a huge raw sewage spill from Tijuana poured into the ocean and stunk up Imperial Beach and other coastal communities. Trash and sewage from Tijuana has long been a problem, but Dedina said this time the spill could have been as much as 250 million gallons of raw sewage, so large and stinky that there’s finally a serious bipartisan coalition working to come up with solutions.
“It’s just just magnified the horribleness of what we’d experience before,” Dedina said. “It was really, really abysmal.”
The new coalition is pushing to get Tijuana’s aging sewage system upgraded, and to build infrastructure on the U.S. side of the border that could act as a backup and help mitigate the flow of sewage into the ocean.
Also on the podcast, the shocking ease with which students cheat in online course recovery classes, the SoccerCity vs. San Diego State University statement showdown, “Papa” Doug Manchester’s possible new role as “Papa Bahamas” and more.
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