By Chris Ward
City passes annual budget
On Thursday, June 20, the San Diego City Council-approved fiscal year 2020 budget was signed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer. This was a budget my colleagues and I amended to increase investments in city staff and projects to better serve our neighborhoods.
This is an impressive spending plan that addresses our most pressing issues, prioritizes long-standing community projects, and builds a foundation for an equitable, sustainable future.
My role in the budget process is one of the greatest responsibilities I have as your elected representative and I’ve spent these last few months fighting for the priorities that will support all neighborhoods and raise the level of service that San Diegans receive.
I have met with many residents and community groups to learn what issues and programs our neighborhoods have prioritized. Your input was valuable and it’s why I ensured this budget reflected our district’s values.
The FY 2020 budget includes significant investments to address homelessness — with $36.7 million dedicated to services and programs including bridge shelters, interim housing programs, multifamily rehabilitation, Safe Parking Program sites, storage facilities, Housing Navigation Center, rental assistance, and youth-serving homeless programs.
The budget also secures the largest capital improvements budget in the history of our city — with $710.4 million dedicated to updating San Diego’s aging infrastructure. The budget also secures $14.3 million to improve transit infrastructure and bring new mobility choices to neighborhoods to meet our climate action plan and Vision Zero goals.
Many of my initial budget proposals from this City Council were reflected in this budget, including:
Child care coordinator
Creating an inclusive, successful environment for working families at the city of San Diego is an attainable goal if we invest in supporting and improving access to child care systems in San Diego. This budget includes $118,000 for a dedicated child care coordinator position focused on increasing the accessibility of child care facilities and services for city employees and the city of San Diego.
Code enforcement officers
More personnel are needed to protect the public from a variety of health and safety violations. The FY 2020 budget will deliver $148,000 to hire two additional code enforcement officers under Development Services.
Get It Done support
Additional positions in the Transportation & Stormwater Department will be funded in the FY 2020 budget to assist and support staff in addressing the Get It Done requests received by the city of San Diego.
Library technology updates
Secured $200,000 for technology updates to help secure critical and much-enjoyed community library services across the city of San Diego.
Climate resiliency study
San Diego is already seeing the impacts of climate change. To manage our exposure to a dramatically changing climate, protect our quality of life and ensure we remain a thriving, vibrant city, the city of San Diego is developing a Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Plan. The FY 2020 budget will include $300,000 for a Climate Resiliency Study to support these efforts.
Balboa Park infrastructure and planning funding
Balboa Park has played an integral role in the story of San Diego for the last 150 years, and today continues its legacy as a cultural hub of creativity and history educating thousands every day. This cultural jewel deserves the resources and attention to continue its role as a cultural and economic driver for our region. This budget includes $3.5 million for facility maintenance needs, $4.3 million for restroom improvements across the park, $1,200,000 for the Palisades Project, and $300,000 for a Balboa Park Project Implementation Plan in order to prioritize park improvements.
Investing in green infrastructure is a key component of our climate action goals. This budget will allocate $100,000 for a city arborist focused on increasing our urban canopy cover in San Diego and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
North Park Mini Park breaking ground this year!
After years of anticipation, the North Park Mini Park will be breaking ground this year and open in late 2020. This year, the City Council approved a fiscal year budget that fully funded the development and maintenance of the park.
El Cajon Boulevard bus-only lane line pilot project
A collaborative effort between the El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association, MTS, city staff and SANDAG will bring a dedicated transit (bus-only) lane to El Cajon Blvd from Park Boulevard to Fairmont Avenue. This pilot program is aimed at improving transit speeds and ridership on the 10,000 daily rides along the boulevard. Funding for the pilot was made available in the fiscal year 2020 budget.
The design and planning of restrooms at Trolley Barn Park
Trolley Barn Park is a treasure in University Heights, delivering a safe, fun area for neighborhood children to play and hosting community events year-round. I fought to ensure the FY 2020 budget includes $500,000 in funding for the planning and development of restrooms at this park, so residents can continue utilizing Trolley Barn Park to its fullest potential.
This budget cycle was an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to all San Diegans and address some of our most pressing issues. I want to thank Mayor Faulconer, my colleagues on the City Council, and all San Diegans for their part in producing a budget that reflects our values and commitment to safe, accessible neighborhoods and reliable city services.
While the budget has been finalized, it’s not too soon to look ahead and advocate for additional neighborhood services throughout the year. Visit my city website to see all the policy and community specific accomplishments we have achieved together. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact my office at 619-236-6633 or by email at ChristopherWard@SanDiego.Gov.
— Councilmember Chris Ward serves the 13 communities in District 3, which include the Uptown neighborhoods of Old Town, Mission Hills, Hillcrest, University Heights, North Park, South Park, Normal Heights, Bankers Hill and others.