Photo by KPBS Staff
Though it’s officially non-partisan, the San Diego City Council will stay in control of Democrats after the November election. Only two out of the five open council seats feature races between a Republican and a Democrat.
One of them is San Diego City Council District One.
The district covers a lot of coastline, from La Jolla up to the border with Del Mar. Among the neighborhoods it serves are Carmel Valley, Sorrento Valley, University City, and UCSD.
The seat has been held by both Democrats and Republicans over the years, but recently it’s tilted toward the Democrats. It’s currently held by Democrat Barbara Bry, who’s running against Assemblyman Todd Gloria for Mayor of San Diego.
Democrats Joe LaCava and Will Moore are running to replace Bry. LaCava is a civil engineer and Moore is a lawyer. Both put fighting homelessness high on their list of priorities.
“We need to take a look at the incredibly complex financial mechanisms to build income, restricted housing and how that adds to the cost,” LaCava said. “We have to look at the red tape to deliver housing at that point and how we can streamline that.”
But LaCava also said the time for just studying and talking about the problem has passed. He told KPBS the city needs to change the way it approves housing.
“It has much more to do to reduce processing time, permit fees and reduce the risk of producing them,” he said.
“We’ve had a regime in this town for the last 30 years that has been, frankly, affirmatively against building housing, unnecessary hurdles, overregulation,” Moore said.
Moore also pointed to the city’s permitting process as a major impediment to building affordable housing.
“We have processes where even the permitting when you are doing something that is allowed, takes three to 10 years,” Moore said. “Now, if you get a piece of property and you park it for three to 10 years where you can’t do anything, because even if everybody wants the housing, it takes almost a decade to get a five unit apartment complex built in there.”
Moore named homelessness and affordable housing as just two examples of how San Diego government has spent too many years being reactive rather than proactive.
“So you need to be aiming at two, three, five years ahead to where the problem’s going to be and have that foresight,” he said. “That’s the way I’ve run my campaign. I’ve talked about during this campaign climate, housing, jobs from the perspective of where San Diego’s going to be after maybe some of us aren’t even here anymore.”
San Diego will be electing five new city council members, along with a new mayor in November. This presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the city to change the way it does business, LaCava said.
“Having elected officials that are willing to say this is not about me, this is about my city,” LaCava said. “This is about the San Diegans who live and have businesses here.”
Another issue that divides District 1 is short-term vacation rentals (STVRs). A proposal to cap the number of Airbnb-style rentals was rejected by the planning commission on October 8th. This means it will be left up to the new city council to make the final decision.
Moore said the proposal was a good one. LaCava disagrees.
“I think what we should be doing, instead of just waving a flag to have a rhetorical point, is trying to work towards a solution that actually reduces the impact of STVRs on our community,” Moore said. “And that practical solution is what I’m after.”
LaCava advocates a more stringent approach.
“Let’s adopt regulations for home sharing and let’s keep whole home rentals in our commercial districts,” he said.
LaCava came in first in the District One primary, beating Moore by more than 3,000 votes. But there were more than 25,000 votes split among the other candidates.
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