SDUT: San Diego City Council candidate Christian Ramirez on the issues

What would be your top priority on the City Council?

District 8 is home to some of the most underserved and most polluted communities in the City of San Diego. From the border communities of San Ysidro and Otay Mesa to the historic barrios, children are exposed to pollutants and have higher rates of asthma than any other community in San Diego.

Environmental review and project mitigation is a must all across San Diego, especially for large scale projects in communities that are underserved. For far too long half-baked ideas have been imposed on the residents of District 8 by the political elites, eroding the quality of life for residents in the border district of our city. I’ll advocate to ensure that District 8 residents are consulted and that our concerns are taken into account to address issues related to environmental justice, affordable housing, gentrification, and accountable policing.

How would you address the city’s housing crisis?

The City of San Diego has failed to take urgent steps to ensure that San Diegans are able to afford to live in San Diego. The city must conduct an audit of vacant and underused parcels of land owned by the city and other local entities like the Metropolitan Transit Service and build affordable housing units in those parcels.

The city should also reduce the permitting delays which prevent the construction of granny flats and micro units. This will help meet the demand for housing units in our city.

Ultimately, the housing crisis is tied to the high costs of living, a sensible rent control program should be considered. The city must also implement policies that promote a living wage to our residents, by establishing a local hiring policy in all public projects.  

Evaluate what the city has done on homelessness. What would you do differently?

San Diego is one of the wealthiest cities in our state, it is shameful that we have allowed unsheltered children, women and men to be mistreated with such callousness and disregard for human dignity. The fact that hundreds of our neighbors were hospitalized and 20 more perished, due to a Hepatitis A outbreak is a disturbing example of the indifference that exists in City Hall when dealing with unsheltered San Diegans.

The city of San Diego should refurbish the old downtown library, the abandoned Charger training facility in Murphy Canyon, or Qualcomm stadium as emergency shelters for our neighbors in need. We have a shelter crisis in the city of San Diego, we must move unsheltered San Diegans from tents into more safe and dignified structures like tiny-homes, similar to what the City of San José recently implemented.

Evaluate how the city has handled dockless bikes. What would you do differently?

Dockless bikes are the kind of innovation that our city needs more of in order to drop our dependency on cars. With innovation there must also be adequate regulations in order to ensure that sidewalks, access ramps, and alleys are not blocked. The city must work with dockless bike companies to develop policies that will direct companies to prevent clutter in our communities.

The city must also invest in creating adequate bike friendly and pedestrian friendly infrastructure, particularly in communities south of I-8. The best way to ensure alternative modes of infrastructure become part of the fabric of our transportation culture is by investing in dedicated bike lines throughout the city of San Diego.

Docked and dockless bikes should also serve the entire city of San Diego, District 8 is home to the world’s busiest border-crossing, but this innovative mode of transportation does not fully serve our city’s border communities.   

What should be done with the former Qualcomm Stadium site?

The people of San Diego own the former Qualcomm Stadium site, it should be up to the people via their representatives in the Council who should evaluate what to do with this important landmark for San Diegans. I am deeply concerned about having entities with deep pockets, like the proponents of Soccer City, who get to influence what happens with the Mission Valley site. Last year, the proponents of Soccer City attempted to undermine Measure L, which requires all citizens’ initiatives to be voted on in November.  

The Qualcomm Stadium site is uniquely located in a public transportation hub and is a perfect location to build affordable housing units, commercial sites while at the same time developing a riverfront that can turn Mission Valley into a world-class tourist destination. 

What would you do to address the city’s police staffing shortage?

City workers have been mistreated by City Hall for far too long. The so-called pension reform under Proposition B, has proven to be a disaster for city workers, including police officers. Our police department is understaffed and overworked, which undermines public safety and community trust of police officers, particularly among communities of color. 

Although I am pleased to know that the police officers’ union and the city have reached agreement on a contract. I am a proponent that police officers who speak a second or third language should receive an incentive, police officers who live in the community they patrol should also receive an incentive. 

By adopting a community-policing model, we will attract new recruits and retain the current force. Most importantly we will help bridge the gap of trust between police officers and communities of color. 

How would you change the city’s approach to recreational marijuana use?

Proposition 64 was approved by Californians and the city has an obligation to comply with state law. Dispensaries must be distributed equally among all council districts and policies that restrict access to patients and recreational use should be lifted.

The city has issued 40 nonretail cannabis permits for manufacturing, cultivation and distribution, the city should ensure that permits be granted to local and small business owners, particularly from communities that have been impacted by over policing. This will allow this now legal industry to create local jobs by allowing small business operators to compete. 

How specifically should the city regulate short term vacation rentals?

We must establish regulations for short term vacation rentals. Plans that allow homeowners to rent a room in their home or a granny flat should be allowed to move forward, in order for residents to have supplemental income. Strict regulations must be placed on outside developers who buy properties and displace families by turning homes into hotels.

I am certain that we can find a common-sense approach that will protect communities from gentrification, allow residents the opportunity to earn extra income and provide our visitors with alternative housing during their stay in our city.

Source: http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/opinion/commentary/sd-election-2018-christian-ramirez-san-diego-city-council-candidate-district-8-20180515-htmlstory.html