By Colleen O’Connor
What are the things that you love about San Diego?
Once upon a time, it was the beauty of its neighborhoods and parks — its human scale.
It was “Camelot by the Sea,” as San Diego was once described, a city bounded by water.
Its neighborhoods hung together in scope, scale and solidarity. Roads were maintained and improved. Trash was picked up. Freeways and traffic flowed.
In short, San Diego had a reputation for being “safe, clean and prosperous.”
What happened? When did San Diego get so ugly?
We all know the culprits: Lego-like high-rises downtown, pre-fab infill projects in old stock neighborhoods, neglected park lands, polluted beaches, and a City Council-majority in lock-step supporting more of the same.
The presidency may be about fighting for the “soul of America,” but the Mayor’s race is about fighting for “the survival of San Diego.”
Seriously, look around: shuttered stores, high unemployment, massive public debt, underfunded pensions, government by ballot initiative, vacant malls reduced to Amazon warehouses, filthy streets, and, of course, corruption.
Consider the 101 Ash Street fraud. That bogus lease-to-own deal will cost city taxpayers $127 million, plus another $20 million in cost overruns for tenant improvements. We’ve been paying $18,000 a day since 2016 for this mistake.
But wait — there’s more. No one from the city formally inspected the property before then City Councilmember, now mayoral candidate Todd Gloria made the motion to purchase this white elephant.
That explains the first reason why Barbara Bry is the better choice for Mayor. As chair of the council’s budget committee, she can count.
She holds an MBA from Harvard University and became a wealthy entrepreneur, making her independent of outside pressures. And she will not use the office of Mayor as simply a stepping stone to higher office.
The second reason she is the better choice is her tech savvy. Our city needs that knowledge to navigate and advance the best for San Diegans in the coming economic revolution based on artificial intelligence, robotics, 5G communications and the associated educational demands.
She has pledged, repeatedly, to make the city’s progress in these high-tech challenges fair and accessible across all districts.
The third reason to vote for Bry is her fight to preserve neighborhoods from the Airbnb chaos and protect residents from dockless scooters. Short-term rentals have engulfed so much of San Diego’s beautiful beach and bay communities, while the scooter invasion has created a major safety issue.
The fourth reason is perhaps the most important. Bry opposes elimination of the longstanding 30-foot height limit west of Interstate 5. That limit is being picked away in the Midway area via a ballot initiative this fall.
Supported overwhelming by the people of San Diego nearly 50 years ago, the height limit was designed to preserve “the unique and beautiful character of the coastal zone of San Diego,” and to prohibit buildings that obstructed “ocean breezes, sky and sunshine.”
Who wants to live in a cement jungle of sunless high-rise buildings in the midst of a pandemic? New York, anyone?
Finally, a fifth reason to vote for Bry is to consider the local leaders endorsing her. They include Father Joe Carroll, former Councilmember Donna Frye, Supervisor Dianne Jacob and community and environmental activists like Ann Dynes, David Lundin and Richard Ybarra.
The question for San Diego voters in November is simple. Who will reclaim the city’s beauty, its character, and its preeminence in biotech, education, the arts, and all-around livability?
The short answer is Barbara Bry.
She will not use the Mayor’s office as a stepping stone to yet another office.
She will solve the problems. Not create more.
Colleen O’Connor is a native San Diegan and a retired college professor.