Progress is Priority #1
By San Diego City Councilmember Todd Gloria
I offer my best wishes to the staff of the San Diego Uptown News as they embark upon the challenging endeavor of starting a newspaper. Uptown and the surrounding neighborhoods are diverse and active, and sharing more education, information and entertainment opportunities with local residents and visitors is exciting. Welcome to Council District Three!
The top priorities set by my neighbors are strengthening public safety and improving infrastructure. San Diego’s finances may not seem ideal for addressing these now, but I cannot recall a time when the city boasted of having too much money – or even enough money – to provide public services, so waiting for a more opportune time would be inappropriate. My constituents expect, and I agree you deserve, fast response times from our hardworking police and firefighters, and well-maintained and functioning streets, sidewalks and water and sewer systems. These services are the most basic and the most critical, and must be prioritized.
In the six months since I took office, I have aggressively pursued progress in both public safety and infrastructure.
One of the achievements of which I am most proud thus far came at the beginning of the year with the delivery of two additional Community Relations Officers (CROs) back to our neighborhoods. CROs use their familiarity with the people and properties in specific neighborhoods to directly address nuisances and crime trends proactively with the support of community members. They are key to keeping streets safe for residents, businesses and visitors. Crime prevention is vital to community stability, and CROs provide that necessary service.
Even with the return of these officers, I have noticed an increase in prostitution solicitation throughout the Council District. The ever-active and ever-vigilant neighbors let me and my staff know of the unwelcome swell of street activity as well.
Responding to our shared concerns about increased prostitution, I am proud to report that the San Diego Police Vice Unit conducted a two-day operation called “Street Sweep.” Toward the end of May, the Vice Unit targeted those individuals who engage in selling women for purposes of prostitution and those individuals who are customers of prostitutes within San Diego.
The operation resulted in the arrests of 34 suspects whose charges ranged from recruiting females for the purpose of prostitution to agreeing to engage in prostitution. Thirty-three males and one female were booked into San Diego Central Jail.
The San Diego Police Department is aggressively addressing street prostitution, human trafficking for the purpose of prostitution, and reducing the demand for prostitution.
Prostitution is one of many crimes requiring the attention of our law enforcement personnel. While some argue that more focus should be paid to violent crimes, it is equally important to address quality of life offenses. As a former member of the Mid-City Prostitution Impact Panel, I know that prostitution impacts far more than the individual participants; it breeds other criminal activity. When lower-level offenses like prostitution are overlooked, the message is sent that an area consents to crime.
I appreciate the ongoing work of our dedicated police officers, and look forward to strengthening the protection of District Three neighborhoods through the ongoing productive relationship between the community, law enforcement, and my office. As local residents, we know the people and activity that belong in our neighborhoods. We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to any occurrence that seems out of place or ignore our intuition when we feel threatened. Please continue to be strong advocates for our safe streets by remaining vigilant, reporting crimes and suspicious activity to the Police Department, and staying in touch with me with additional ways I can be helpful in securing our community.
After feeling safe in your neighborhood, you should expect roads that don’t throw your car out of alignment, sidewalks that don’t cause you to trip and fall, and water and sewer pipes that don’t rupture regularly. Because District Three’s neighborhoods are all at least 100 years old, these standards are unfortunately not widely reached.
Smarter spending now will mean fewer problems later. For example, reconstructing roads once they fail is seven times more costly than maintaining them in decent condition. Though this lesson has been slowly learned, I am glad that San Diego is accelerating its progress on addressing its growing deferred maintenance list thanks to funds from the city’s $103 Infrastructure Bond, State Proposition 42, State Proposition 1B and trenching fees. By October 2010, more than 60 miles of streets in Council District Three will be slurry sealed or overlaid to improve their condition and extend their lives. These efforts, along with those in response to requests from my office and local residents, are helpful in making progress on this important issue.
With a deferred maintenance backlog totaling more than $900 million, this is not going to be a problem we can solve immediately. Our public assets are worth protecting. To do so will require real investment and new funding streams on top of the current city bond. Working with community members to identify infrastructure priorities and investigate appropriate funding levels and opportunities, I look forward to creating a solid foundation for our city’s most vital systems.
Though progress on these two fronts is my most critical mission, I truly value the other services that make San Diego the special place I’ve enjoyed living my entire life. Input and ongoing dialogue with community members are necessary to ensure I continue to focus on your priorities, appropriately represent your concerns and address issues effectively and efficiently. Whether you prefer to call or e-mail my office, monitor my whereabouts on Facebook or Twitter, or meet with me in person at one of my community coffees, please stay in touch. Together, District Three will remain the heart of San Diego.
To contact Councilman Gloria: phone (619) 236-6633, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Web site www.sandiego.gov/cd3