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Gloria-Whitburn District 3
“Meet Your Mayor” Takeaways


The June 26 virtual town hall with Mayor Todd Gloria and District 3 Councilmember Stephen Whitburn was tightly controlled except for the chat room (more on that later)The 100-plus people who attended could not participate in the exchange. Pre-selected community leader panelists asked questions that likely were pre-screened. Here are some highlights:

Topic A: 30th Street Bike Lanes

The first question came from a Hillcrest representative: 
“Plans for development in San Diego have neighbors divided on several issues, bicycle lanes, parking spaces, density ... These issues are highlighted on 4th and 5th Avenues in Hillcrest and 30th Street in North Park. How do your policies seek to balance these issues, and what does District 3 look like at the end of this process?” 

The mayor was ready with an answer:

“I support bike lanes on 30th Street, but I want to acknowledge that change is hard and this is disruptive. But this conversation feels eerily similar to when we were installing the bus rapid lane on Park Boulevard*Many in the community were very fearful of that change, but the end result was that the community has been enhanced.

*FACT CHECK:  A recent inewssource analysis found that the Mid-City Rapid 215 bus on Park Boulevard, which cost $44 million in federal and state taxes, “is slower on average than the route it replaced.”

Then Mayor Gloria expressed alarm over  “the level of traffic fatalities we have with vehicle interactions with pedestrians and cyclists*” and added, “The city has endeavored to try and provide additional parking opportunities on side streets. Parking was tight before, it’s going to be tight after.
*FACT CHECK:  According to data compiled by Circulate San Diego, of the 27 traffic fatalities involving pedestrians or bicyclists reported in 2019, not a single one occurred in North Park.
Councilmember Whitburn, who had questioned the rationale for the 30th Street bike lanes as a candidate, spoke next:
In the years to come, we are going to have any number of proposals for additional bike lanes, and there are going to be different perspectives. My first job is to listen, and I’m a good listener. As new ideas come forward, I will be personally involved in ensuring that the community is engaged. We need bike lanes. I look forward to working with the people who use bike lanes to understand what they most need and also working with our residents and our businesses to understand their concerns.”


  Homelessness Solutions:
More Housing, More Bureaucracy

In response to a question from a downtown resident about the worsening homeless crisis, the Councilmember said, “The real solution here is increasing the amount of housing.”  He noted, “The City Council has approved every single housing proposal that has come before it in the past six months” and added, “We can add more in District 3.”
He said further that “every single layer of government up and down is firmly committed to addressing the homeless crisis. There’s a lot of money being dedicated and a lot of commitment. The Mayor has created a new Department of Homeless Strategies, and the County has created a similar department.

Parks: “Unprogrammed” Green Space
Is So Last Century

 At the end, Gloria Staffer Kohta Zaiser took what he called a “pre-selected question” about increasing “pocket parks in communities that are lacking green space.” Gloria responded that his new Parks Master Plan includes:

“... a recognition that recreation in the 21st century looks like different things to different people. We’re trying to have a different metric for parks. Acreage is important, but so is what’s in that acreage. A robustly-programmed mini-park in a dense neighborhood is as valuable as a large unprogrammed passive park in another part of town.” (In other words, less open green space, more benches and water fountains.)


Meanwhile, In the Chat Room

Attendees blocked from actual participation turned to the chat room, where the spirited hour-long discussion was dominated by questions about the 30th Street bike lanes. Sample comments:

“I would like to know how the City plans to measure whether the bike lanes are used enough to justify the lack of parking. What will it take to convince them to reverse the decision?”
“SANDAG selected Utah Street as the North-South Bikeway and even installed traffic circles. Why is the City so insistent on having ‘their own” bike lanes two blocks away hurting small businesses and residents?”
“Why no dialogue with the North Park community BEFORE installing the bike lanes?”
“How does the parking garage at 30th and University help anyone north of Polk or South of Dwight?”
“Mayor, can’t you promise to quantify the bike lanes’ success that you all, in theory, think will occur? And then promise to dismantle it if it proves that the economy suffers because of the bike lanes? Give it a timeline.”
“Stephen Whitburn, you had said you were “concerned” about the 30th Street bike lanes. Are you the Susan Collins of San Diego?”

*SoNo Neighborhood Alliance is a non-profit that informs and engages residents of North Park and Golden Hill/South Park about neighborhood quality-of-life issues that include:​ ​​land use and development, traffic, green space, parking, and code compliance.​

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