Saturday, October 26, 2019

University of San Diego  |  11:00 a.m.‑ 6:30 p.m.

5998 Alcala Park, San Diego, CA 92110

Learn more about Politifest and purchase your tickets.

Housing Supply

Housing prices in California have become perhaps the hottest political topic in the state. How much is the problem driven by an imbalance between homebuilding and job or population growth in recent decades? How many homes need to be built to correct the market? How do we do so without adversely impacting vulnerable communities, and what is the political answer to residents who prefer their quality of life too much to accept the necessary changes?


  • Elyse Lowe Director of Development Services, City of San Diego
  • Ray Major Chief Economist, San Diego Association of Governments 
  • Maya Rosas Director of Policy, Circulate San Diego 
  • Scott Wiener California State Senator 
  • Liam Dillon Reporter, Los Angeles Times (moderator)

Sponsored by Shea Homes and California Strategies 

Gentrification and Housing: Impacts on Latino and Immigrant Communities

This panel will be conducted in Spanish with English translation available.


Change is a constant in American cities. But how can the state or a local government protect people from being pushed out of a neighborhood against their will due to demographic and economic forces? Should they? How do we provide economic development to low-income areas while ensuring that the residents of those areas will be the beneficiaries of the growth? Are market-based housing solutions in conflict with tenant advocacy or the historical and cultural roots of an area? This panel will be conducted in Spanish with English translation available.


  • Estela De Los Rios Executive Director, CSA San Diego County
  • Esperanza Gonzalez Community Activist
  • Maria Nunez City Councilwoman, City of San Marcos 
  • Jose Rodriguez-Perez Organizer, San Diego Organizing Project
  • Ana Christina Sánchez Telemundo 20 (moderator)

Sponsored by Hitzke Development and GOGO Charters San Diego 

Live recording of Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis podcast by CALmatters

Gimme Shelter” is a biweekly podcast that looks at why it’s so expensive to live in California and what the state can do about it. The hosts are Liam Dillon, who covers housing affordability issues for the Los Angeles Times, and Matt Levin, data and housing reporter for CALmatters. 


  • Liam Dillon Reporter, Los Angeles Times
  • Matt Levin Data Reporter, CALmatters

Homeownership: An Investment in Our Community

San Diego Habitat recently joined a national advocacy campaign called Cost of Home, aimed at mobilizing legislators and housing advocates in support of policy changes making it less burdensome to produce and provide housing. We know that homeownership creates increased community involvement, improved health, furthered education, more financial stability and stimulated economic activity. In addition to policies that would streamline and cut costs of the development process, one of the core systemic changes that can help in the production of less expensive housing is an investment in our community by way of increased access to capital and creative financing.


  • Deborah Ruane President, Norwood Development Strategies  
  • Stefani Benvenuto Director of Public Affairs, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce 
  • Kirby Brady Director of Research, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation 
  • Lori Holt Pfieler CEO, San Diego Habitat for Humanity 

Rising Rents and Fixed Incomes: San Diego’s Senior Housing Crisis

By the year 2030, 1 in 4 San Diegans will be age 60 or older. With San Diego’s high cost of living, 40 percent of seniors in our region face severe economic hardship in meeting even basic needs, including paying for housing. As a result, seniors are now the fastest-growing demographic within the homeless population, and the problem will only get worse. This panel will discuss how the housing crisis is affecting older San Diegans and present information about resources and potential solutions for seniors in need.


  • Simonne Ruff Director, Corporation for Supportive Housing San Diego 
  • Rebecca Louie Vice President/Chief Operating Officer, Wakeland Housing and Development Corporation 
  • Melinda Forstey Chief Operating Officer, Serving Seniors 
  • Joe Gavin Chief Programs and Community Engagement Officer, San Diego Seniors Community Foundation (moderator) 

Stable Housing: The Key to Healthy Child Development and a Strong Community

While issues surrounding housing and child development have traditionally been considered separately, there is scholarship suggesting that the two are, in fact, inextricably linked. Policies that support healthy child development have been proven to show lasting, positive impact on economic development and community stability. At the same time, unstable housing and homelessness have been demonstrated to undermine child development by putting extreme strain on families and introducing profound anxiety into the lives of children. This panel would illuminate how housing, child development and economic outcomes are linked – and how the local housing policies can help address this dynamic.


  • Meredith Fear Associate Director of Foundation Relations, The Salk Institute 
  • Laura Nunn Director of Policy and ProgramsSan Diego Housing Federation 
  • Jennifer Ryan Manager, Therapeutic Childcare, Father Joe’s Villages 

Temporary Paradise: Are We Destined For Sprawl, or is There a Better Way?

Grow the San Diego Way hosts a panel on sprawl and its impacts on a growing region. As the conversation on housing turns to the growth of cities, urban infill and transit-oriented development, this panel takes a look at how the legacy of sprawl jeopardizes the future of a promising region. This panel will examine sprawl and its negative impacts on equity, environment and principles of sound planning.


  • Bruce Appleyard Professor of City Planning, School of Public Affairs, San Diego State University   
  • Marcus Bush Policy Adviser, San Diego City Council  
  • Nicole Capretz CEO, Climate Action Campaign
  • Lawrence Herzog Professor Emeritus, San Diego State University 
  • JP Theberge Executive Director, Grow the San Diego Way 

Urban Affordability, Micro-Unit and Shared-Living Development

Given the widespread shortage of affordable housing, alternative approaches to increasing housing density and supply have sprung up in urban communities across the nation. This panel will discuss innovative ideas in the industry – from micro-units to dormitory-style co-living developments with shared amenities – and how they can contribute to increased housing supply and affordability for current residents and new San Diegans.


  • David Allen Principal, Trestle 
  • Georgette Gómez City Council President, San Diego 
  • Andrew Malick Director, Malick Infill Development 
  • Betsy Brennan President and CEO, Downtown San Diego Partnership (moderator)


Transit in the West

San Diego, like most cities in California and the West, was built with the car in mind. Regions are now owning up to their contributions to global warming, where the largest source of emissions comes from transportation. But can these young, sprawling cities build transit that matches the convenience and cost effectiveness of NYC, Chicago and DC in places that don’t have the dense development patterns to match it? What can reasonably be done, how much will it cost and how long will it take?


  • Richard Bailey Mayor, Coronado 
  • Georgette Gómez City Council President, San Diego 
  • Hasan Ikhrata Executive Director, San Diego Association of Governments 
  • Paul Jablonski CEO, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System
  • Andrew Keatts Assistant Editor, Voice of San Diego (moderator)

Sponsored by the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority 

Supervisor Hopefuls on Housing and Transportation

The county of San Diego is changing. The Board of Supervisors could see unprecedented turnover in 2020 thanks to term limits and competitive races. The agency has a major say in development projects and regional transportation.


  • Joel Anderson Former California State Senator 
  • Rafael Castellanos Commissioner, Port of San Diego 
  • Olga Diaz City Councilwoman, Escondido 
  • Ben Hueso California State Senator 
  • Sophia Rodriguez Community Activist 
  • Kenya Taylor Community Activist 

Development Along Transit Corridors: Morena Corridor Case Study

  • Perry Dealy President and CEO, Dealy Development 
  • Gary London Senior Principal, London Moeder Advisors 
  • Deborah Ruane President, Norwood Development Strategies (moderator)

Sponsored by the Burnham Moores Center for Real Estate 

30 Years From Now: How Our Transportation Systems Are Changing

Across the world, governments and communities are looking at transportation differently. Strategies for moving people and goods need to strike the right balance between efficiency, equity and sustainability. SANDAG is using data, cutting-edge technology and community input to guide the future of transportation in San Diego County to deliver a complete transportation system that works for all travelers. At this community conversation, participants will hear from SANDAG planners and public and private-sector experts to learn more about what’s in the works and how it will change how we move throughout the region.


  • Colleen Emmenegger Director, People-Centered Automation Research GroupUC San DiegDesign Lab 
  • Vivian Sun Head, Business Development, TuSimple  
  • Josephine Tucker Senior Manager and Economist, Deloitte 
  • Coleen Clementson Planning Director, SANDAG (moderator)

Air Pollution: The Hidden Cost of San Diego’s Housing and Transportation Crisis

Spanish translation will be provided.


In San Diego, a child born in Barrio Logan is eight times more likely to develop asthma than a child born in La Jolla. This disparity in health outcomes is a direct product of our region’s failed policies on housing and transportation. Zoning for single-family housing has facilitated sprawl development, pushing residents farther from jobs and to the fringes of our region. Continued prioritization of roads, at the expense of viable transportation options, almost ensures that residents must drive alone. As a result, San Diego residents breathe a toxic stew of air pollutants that will only become worse under a changing climate. Our transportation crisis and our housing crisis has created an air quality crisis.


  • Nathan Fletcher Supervisor, County of San Diego 
  • Kevin de León President Pro Tempore, California State Senate

Transit-Oriented Development Best Practices

This session will seek to define transit priority areas, which are related to transit-oriented development and city planning for the half-mile radius by illustrating the best such areas in San Diego and the West. These will include the range of building types and intensities that are supported by transit, ranging from pedestrians to bicycles to various forms of public transit, including local buses, bus rapid transit, light rail and commuter rail.


  • Howard Blackson Urban Designer 
  • Kirby Brady Director of Research, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation 
  • Andrew Malick Director, Malick Infill Development 

Transportation Justice, Displacement and the Climate Crisis

Transportation planning in the United States has long prioritized moving as many cars as quickly as possible. This car-centric paradigm has exacerbated the climate crisis and heaped additional challenges on systematically oppressed communities, including air pollution and lack of access to opportunity. Now, housing costs are on the rise, and these same communities face displacement, which disrupts the sense of community and forces families to areas with fewer transportation options. This panel will share the stories of community members affected by these inequities and offer solutions that address both the climate crisis and meet the needs of communities of concern.


  • Ana Gonzalez Community Activist 
  • Rosa Olascoaga Vidal Community Organizer, Mid-City CAN 
  • Ramla Sahid Founder and Executive Director, Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans 
  • Sophie Wolfram Director of Programs, Climate Action Campaign 


The Homeless Reality

Homelessness is one of San Diego’s foremost humanitarian crises. Advocates, local officials and San Diegans with lived experience will offer an unvarnished portrait of the realities of San Diego’s homelessness problem – from the challenges of housing homeless San Diegans to the impacts of police enforcement.


  • Jo Barrett Homeless Advocate 
  • Steven Ried Member, Voices of Our City Choir 
  • Deacon Jim Vargas CEO, Father Joe’s Villages 
  • Chris Ward City Councilman, San Diego 
  • Mitchelle Woodson Acting Executive Director/Managing Attorney, Think Dignity
  • Andrew Bowen Metro Reporter, KPBS (moderator)

What Have Other Places Done to Tackle Homelessness?

Communities such as Houston and Salt Lake City have reported dramatic drops in homelessness. What did it take to get those results? We’re convening experts to discuss what San Diego could do to help move more people off the streets and into homes.


  • Amanda Misiko Andere CEO, Funders Together to End Homelessness 
  • Marc Eichenbaum Special Assistant for Homeless Initiatives, City of Houston 
  • Helene Schneider Regional Coordinator, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness 
  • Lisa Halverstadt Reporter, Voice of San Diego (moderator)

Sponsored by Funders Together to End Homelessness San Diego 

What’s San Diego’s Plan to Tackle Homelessness, and Will it Work?

Spanish translation will be provided.


San Diego just got a plan to tackle homelessness. How will that plan work, and how much will it cost? Can San Diego finally reduce its homelessness problem? Hear from key players engaged in trying to implement that plan.


  • Keely Halsey Chief of Homelessness Strategies and Housing Liaison, City of San Diego 
  • Tamera Kohler Chief Executive Officer, Regional Task Force on the Homeless 
  • Ann Marie Oliva Senior Policy Adviser, Corporation for Supportive Housing 
  • Peter Seidler Founder, Seidler Equity Partners and General Partner, San Diego Padres
  • Lisa Jones Senior Vice President of Homeless Housing Innovations, San Diego Housing Commission
  • Lisa Halverstadt Reporter, Voice of San Diego (moderator)

Sponsored by Sudberry Properties 

Criminal Justice System’s Role in Addressing Homelessness

We call on the police to address crime and promote law and order for the community. The use of public nuisance citations and arrests to address homelessness and poverty has repeatedly failed, denigrating and trivializing the professionalism of law enforcement, forcing courts to address a social problem and frustrating citizens and businesses. Police issued 5,844 tickets for illegal lodging and encroachment 2018, a level unprecedented since 8,754 illegal lodging citations were issued in 1991. The resolution of public nuisance offenses in the Homeless Court Program helps remove these offenses while people are working to overcome homelessness.  


  • Steve Binder Co-founder, Homeless Court Program  
  • Parisa Ijadi-Maghsoodi Assistant Director of Public Service, University of San Diego School of Law 
  • Scott Dreher Attorney, Dreher Law Firm 

On the Ballot

At the time of Politifest the primary will only be a few months away. These topics will define many of the races and the only initiative on the ballot. Voice of San Diego moderators and partners will host deep, thoughtful conversations among competing candidates and advocates about how they will handle the most pressing questions in housing and transportation. 

Mayoral Debate

We will end the day with a debate among the San Diego mayoral candidates. The debate will focus exclusively on housing, transit and homelessness. It will be recorded and rebroadcast on our weekly podcast. 


Sponsored by Atlantis Group and the Lincoln Club  

A Hotel Room Tax Hike: Is it the Right Time and Right Plan?

Voters in the city of San Diego will in March 2020 be asked to approve an increase to the city’s hotel room tax. The money it would generate will fund an expansion of the Convention Center, homeless services and roads. The mayor and other supporters have made their case almost exclusively around the need for more funding for housing efforts but critics say that’s only an inadequate side note to the main cause, which is to serve the tourism industry.


  • Michael McConnell Homeless Advocate
  • Gil Cabrera Attorney; Board Member, San Diego Convention Center

Sponsored by Charter Communications

Find more information about Politifest 2019.

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Student tickets are free!