The new state budget includes money for the Jackie Robinson YMCA, Balboa Park’s Botanical Building, suicide prevention efforts on the Coronado Bridge and homeless students in San Diego Unified. / Photos by Megan Wood, Sam Hodgson, Jamie Scott Lytle and Adriana Heldiz
The new state budget includes money for the Jackie Robinson YMCA, Balboa Park’s Botanical Building, suicide prevention efforts on the Coronado Bridge and homeless students in San Diego Unified. / Photos by Megan Wood, Sam Hodgson, Jamie Scott Lytle and Adriana Heldiz

The state budget approved by the Legislature this week includes all kinds of big-ticket, big-picture items like tens of millions of dollars to fight homelessness and bolster childcare services statewide.

But it also includes lots of smaller, individualized projects secured by lawmakers who want something to be able to point to for constituents. San Diego lawmakers got quite a few of those this time around.

Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins held a press conference Friday morning touting the money for Balboa Park, Liberty Station and other projects she helped secure. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and Sen. Ben Hueso both celebrated money for a new swimming pool at a YMCA. There’s also money for a dog park headed San Diego’s way.

Here’s a rundown of the big San Diego items in the new state budget:

$500,000 for San Diego Unified School District to support the education of homeless youth

San Diego Unified reported having 8,395 homeless students in the 2017-18 school year, which represents about 8 percent of its non-charter enrollment.

That’s a 7.3 percent increase over the previous year’s total of 7,823 homeless students.

At a handful of schools, like Perkins K-8 in Barrio Logan, homeless students make up almost a full third of the school’s population.

Last year, the district notably missed out on $750,000 in federal funding for homeless students because of a missing signature on a grant application, as inewsource reported.

$8.66 million to the city of San Diego for Balboa Parks projects – specifically $8.26 million for the Botanical Building renovation and $0.4 million to complete the International Cottages

This money gives the Balboa Park Conservancy’s sluggish fundraising effort to restore the iconic Botanical Building a major shot in the arm.

Conservancy board chairwoman Joyce Gattas credited state Sen. Pro Tem Toni Atkins with championing the Balboa Park budget additions and said she expects the money to ease the path for the project.

“It’s really a great example of public-private partnership,” Gattas said.

$5 million for the construction of a pool, splash pad and mechanical needs at the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA Aquatic Center

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez wrote in a tweet that her office fought for money for this project. Sen. Ben Hueso also claimed this funding as a victory in a press release about the budget.

Gonzalez’s spokeswoman, Sami Gallegos, sent more details in an emailed statement:

The assemblywoman’s residents in southeastern San Diego live in very park-deficient neighborhoods, with very few public pools or safe swimming opportunities in the community. While the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA used to have a pool, they were not able to raise enough funds to complete the rebuild of the planned aquatic center during the complete demolition and rebuild of the facility in 2017.

The $5 million state budget funding will go toward construction of a pool, splash pad and support mechanical needs as part of the new aquatic center at the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA. The assemblywoman believes completing this new aquatic center will provide a safe option for her constituents to cool off during summer months. Without this resource, children wanting to swim during hot summer days might turn to nearby polluted creeks or San Diego Bay to swim, which would not be healthy or safe.

$5 million for suicide prevention measures on the San Diego-Coronado Bridge

Sen. Ben Hueso had requested $10 million from the budget to advance approval and construction of a suicide barrier for the bridge, which has become a suicide magnet over the last decade.

Hueso has also written a separate bill that would create an advisory committee to provide input into the selection of a suicide deterrent system for the bridge.

$250,000 to the San Diego city attorney’s office to conduct gun violence restraining order trainings statewide

The state Legislature passed a law in 2016 establishing gun violence restraining orders as a tool for law enforcement officers to confiscate the guns of those who might present an immediate threat to themselves or others.

San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott has taken a leading role in implementing the law, and conducts trainings statewide on how to utilize the measure. The $250,000 represents a major increase from the $50,000 Elliott’s office had earlier received to conduct the trainings.

So far, she’s conducted 18 trainings for more than 220 law enforcement and government agencies, said city attorney’s office spokesman Hilary Nemchik.

“The $250,000 will be used to provide additional training, and will also allow us to fund staff who will be available to answer questions and serve as a resource to law enforcement agencies that are reviewing and filing GVROs,” Nemchik wrote in an email.

$3 million to establish a gun violence reduction pilot program to support local law enforcement agencies in the counties of Ventura, San Diego, Alameda and Santa Cruz in conducting activities related to seizing weapons and ammunitions from persons who are prohibited from possessing them.

This money “will support the county’s effort to remove guns from individuals who are already prohibited — by statute or court order — from possessing them,” Nemchik said.

Other San Diego items that made it into the budget:

  • $21 million to the city of San Diego for a traffic calming and pedestrian safety project on Park Boulevard
  • $9 million to the Navy Training Center Foundation for renovations
  • $500,000 for the Rancho Bernardo Dog Park
  • $4 million for the Jerabek Neighborhood Park ADA upgrades
  • $981,000 in one-time general fund money for the working drawings phase to replace the Potrero Forest Fire Station in San Diego County, which has functional deficiencies

Golden State News

Lisa Halverstadt, Megan Wood and Katy Stegall contributed to this report.

Corrections: An earlier version of this post misspelled Hilary Nemchik’s name.

Clarification: An earlier version of this post included a $5 million award to the Liberty Station Performing Arts Building. The total amount directed to renovations for the Navy Training Center Foundation is $9 million.

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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