Mayor Todd Gloria
Mayor Todd Gloria makes a point during the livestreamed State of the City speech. Image from city

Mayor Todd Gloria said Wednesday that San Diego is emerging from the pandemic and ready for “positive, transformational change” to address housing, public safety, infrastructure and homelessness.

“Our challenges are great, the road ahead is long, and there is so much work to do. But SanDiego, we are ready,” he said in his annual State of the City speech.

Gloria spoke from the downtown convention center, choosing the location because of its role in housing both homeless residents and then immigrant children — actions he said displayed the best of San Diego.

He acknowledged that residents are “short on patience and happy talk” after nearly two years of COVID, and focused on what he described as the four biggest issues: housing, infrastructure, public safety and the homeless.

He promised to ease restrictions on new construction to increase the number of homes by 100,000 over the next eight years. He said the city will leverage new state legislation to build more apartments near transit and help affordable housing developers with financing assistance.

And he urged neighborhoods to accept the new development, saying “we cannot lose our resolve to house our own children in the face of people who oppose change and mobilize to block improvements in our neighborhoods.”

On infrastructure, he promised to “reverse the slow degradation of our streets” with investment in fundamental repairs rather than just “new slurry seal.” He said federal funding from the $1 trillion infrastructure bill will help San Diego fix its infrastructure.

“Our public infrastructure is the foundation for a high quality of life,” he said.

He acknowledged that crime has risen during the pandemic, and promised to balance public safety with respect for civil rights and privacy

“A great city can fully fund and support its law enforcement officers while also ensuring they follow their oath,” he said. “We will continue to provide our police department and City Attorney the resources they need to keep you and your family safe, and respond to crime, and hold criminals accountable.” 

Gloria called homelessness the biggest single problem, and said providing supportive housing is the solution. He said the city was leveraging state and federal funds to open hundreds of new housing units and shelter beds.

“In no circumstances is it compassionate to let people live on the sidewalk,” he said.

He traced the problem to the closure of large psychiatric facilities decades ago, but said it is now “long past time for our society to come to grips with this enormous problem.”

Gloria said that all of these challenges can be met with “a jolt of big-city energy” and a can-do spirit.

“I ran for this office on the promise of reinvigorating San Diego with a jolt of big-city energy, fostering a culture of “yes” that will help us ascend to our rightful place as one of the greatest cities in the country,” he said..

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.