Mayor Kevin Faulconer vowed Wednesday to deliver a plan for a new football stadium by the fall and also find a way to expand the San Diego convention center.
Delivering his first “State of the City” address, Faulconer said he would assemble a group of civic leaders to recommend a location either in Mission Valley or downtown and a financing plan that is “a good and fair deal for San Diego taxpayers.” He said he would then seek voter approval.
“At no point in San Diego’s history has the possibility of the Chargers moving to Los Angeles been more real,” he said. “When the next season ends, we’ll be talking about the proposal to keep them here where they belong.”
The mayor spoke to a capacity crowd of over 1,300 at the historic Balboa Theatre. Local and state government leaders, military officers, business leaders and educators were in attendance. Some of the crowd overflowed to the U.S Grant Hotel, where there was a video hookup.
“Both the stadium and convention center are vital to San Diego,” he said. “Together or separately, we can get both done.”
Faulconer’s wide-ranging, 40-minute speech covered topics from street repair and homeless shelters to managed competition and immigration. Among the highlights:
- Street repair will be the high priority in 2015, and he promised improvements to 1,000 miles. “We’re going to solve some of San Diego’s biggest challenges, and we’re going to start by fixing our streets,” he said.
- Building permanent homeless shelters is important because “San Diegans deserve more than a temporary tent when it’s cold outside.”
- His emphasis on “One San Diego” is delivering results. “If you treat people with respect, you can always find solutions. It doesn’t matter if you’re Democrat or Republican,” he said.
- Managed competition will help San Diego save money, avoid future financial problems and invest more in neighborhoods.
- San Diego will strength its ties with “our partners in Baja California,” and he will meet regularly with his counterpart in Tijuana.
- Under new Chief Shelley Zimmerman, the police department has become “a shining example of community partnership” but still suffers from a recruitment and retention challenges.
Though Faulconer is a Republican, he veered from that party’s mainstream on immigration and climate change. He urged Congress to pass “comperehensive immigration reform that will benefit San Diego.” And he committed to making San Diego the “green-energy capital of the world” and create a “sustainable tomorrow” for residents.
“After a decade of crises and crashes, San Diego is writing a comeback story,” he said.