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Pacific Beach leaders look ahead to 2021

As 2020 is drawing to a close, Pacific Beach leaders are looking to what the new year brings. Though 2020 was a year of unpredictable, catastrophic events, that doesn’t mean 2021 can’t be a success.

Here, Brian White , president of the Pacific Beach Town Council; Karl Rand , chair of the Pacific Beach Planning Group; Sara Berns , executive director of Discover Pacific Beach; Bonnie Franklin and Becca Horowitz from the Mission Bay Cluster of San Diego Unified School District and District 2 City Councilmember Jennifer Campbell take a moment to reflect on the year that was and reveal their hopes for the year to come.

Brian White, president of the Pacific Beach Town Council
Brian White, president of the Pacific Beach Town Council
(Courtesy )

Brian White, President, Pacific Beach Town Council

PB Monthly: What were the biggest challenges that Pacific Beach faced in 2020?
Aside from an unprecedented pandemic and the effects of lockdowns and restrictive measures on our local economy, Pacific Beach faced many challenges in 2020 that have been escalating for years. The deterioration of public safety has eroded quality of life throughout the beach areas. PB ranks No. 2 in the city for violent crimes over the past decade, only behind East Village, and aggravated assaults are at the top of that list. The excessive number of bike thefts, vehicle thefts/break-ins and burglaries has been unacceptable for our neighborhood to endure. The inaction and neglect by our elected leaders have allowed these problems to proliferate beyond reasonable levels.

(Fact check for the crime statistics can be found here: https://www.pbtowncouncil.org/pdf/top-10-sd-communities-for-violent-crime-2010-2019.pdf)

What are the biggest issues Pacific Beach will face in 2021 and why?
In addition to the business district’s struggle with strained income and slow recovery from the pandemic, we’ll continue to face a housing crisis and proliferation of homeless encampments until our city and county leaders step up to provide viable, cost-effective ways of sheltering people while also making mental health treatment readily available. As the trolley line nears completion in late 2021 with our very own Balboa Avenue station, the rush is on to establish mobility options that can connect the trolley line to the heart of our Garnet business district. Whether it be a shuttle service, pedestrian bridge over I-5, or expanded foot traffic/bicycle access under the I-5 overpass, we need to meet the moment and rattle cages at city hall for necessary improvements to maximize use of this public transit asset.

What goals do you hope to accomplish in Pacific Beach in 2021?
I plan on continuing our local efforts for volunteer weed abatements, trash cleanups and sidewalk power washing as we continue to make up for the inadequate level of services provided by our lackluster city government. Our volunteer team hopes to coordinate long-term landscaping improvements on traffic medians, as well as other meaningful enhancements. We will continue to demand long-overdue sidewalk vending regulations to reign in boardwalk vendors and we will press forward with our proposal for increased dog hours in Mission Bay while also furthering our quest to establish more off-leash areas in PB with the city’s Parks & Recreation Department.

What does the future of Pacific Beach look like?
I see a thriving business district with enhanced mobility infrastructure such as protected bike lanes, innovative intersections, upgraded crosswalks and pedestrian access. Our ability to implement upgraded services and infrastructure improvements will depend heavily on local empowerment from local funding and control. With the creation of revenue streams that can stay in our community rather than fill city-wide coffers, we can more effectively control our own destiny as a neighborhood. And personally, I would like to see public safety heavily prioritized in order to reduce rampant, unchecked criminal activity in our area.

Karl Rand is Chair of the Pacific Beach Planning Group.
(alandeckerphoto.com)

Karl Rand, Chair, Pacific Beach Planning Group

What were the biggest challenges that Pacific Beach faced in 2020?
The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely added a new twist to the challenges we face in PB. Many local businesses are suddenly struggling to survive. The crime problem has been complicated by pandemic-related constraints that make policing more difficult. Many aspects of the homelessness problem have become much more pronounced. On the flip side, our traffic and scooter problems seem to have been lightened somewhat, if only temporarily.

What are the biggest issues Pacific Beach will face in 2021 and why?
I often remind myself that Pacific Beach’s problems are largely a reflection of our good fortune. People love to come here, both to visit and to live. That leads to our chronic issues with traffic and parking, the lack of affordable housing, homelessness, and the stress put on our natural resources. In 2021, the city’s impending budget crisis will make our efforts to deal with these issues even more challenging than in typical years.

What goals do you hope to accomplish in Pacific Beach in 2021?
With the new PB trolley station opening up in 2021, my top priority is pushing to ensure we have a plan and funding for a pedestrian bridge over I-5 so pedestrians and bicyclists have safe and easy access. Second, we desperately need a series of roundabouts on Foothill Boulevard to alleviate the traffic nightmare there. Third, I would like to see progress on bringing the Friends of Rose Creek vision closer to being realized. The PB Planning Group has worked for years on these goals, and it would be great to get them accomplished this year.

What does the future of Pacific Beach look like?
The future of Pacific Beach looks very bright! We have a large number of amazingly dedicated community volunteers who care passionately about Pacific Beach, and we are working together to make sure PB continues to be a very special and wonderful place.

Sara Berns is executive director of Discover PB.

Sara Berns, former executive director, Discover Pacific Beach

What were the biggest challenges that Pacific Beach faced in 2020?
What wasn’t a challenge in 2020? Of course the pandemic is on the forefront of everything we faced in 2020, but particularly to my role the effect on the small businesses. I think the biggest challenge was trying to keep the most accurate and up to date information available to our membership in order to help them the most. Our small businesses have disproportionately been effected by the closures due to COVID-19 and have really had to face so many challenges. It has been challenging to feel helpless at times but also grateful that our organization has helped them in some way.

What are the biggest issues Pacific Beach will face in 2021 and why?
Recovery in a post-COVID world. I believe we will really start to see the effects of things as we go into the first couple quarters of 2021. It will be more important than ever for the community to come together and support each other. Support for our businesses, support for those that have been out of work for almost a year and support for our students that will be dealing with the aftermath of so much unpredictability. This community has always had a strong sense of collaboration and I believe Pacific Beach will come through and thrive.

What goals do you hope to accomplish in Pacific Beach in 2021?
As my last day as executive director (was in December), my goals are to leave Discover Pacific Beach in very capable hands of the next leader of the Business District. I am committed to supporting the hiring committee’s decision to hire a strong collaborator and creative individual that will lead our small business community into recovery and beyond as well as the parking district and organization as a whole.

What does the future of Pacific Beach look like?
Pacific Beach has a bright future. I believe the pilot parking program is going to provide a lot of opportunity with mobility, safety and vibrancy of the business district creating a more walkable, bikeable community accessible to residents and visitors alike. Pacific Beach will continue to be sought after destination that leads in example for urban beach communities across the world. And personally, I look forward to enjoying Pacific Beach and all the great businesses and events as a participant!

Bonnie Franklin (left) is Chair of Mission Bay Cluster and Becca Horowitz (right) is Chair Elect of the Mission Bay Cluster.
Bonnie Franklin (left) is Chair of the Mission Bay Cluster of schools and Becca Horowitz (right) is Chair Elect of the Mission Bay Cluster of schools.

Bonnie Franklin, chair, Mission Bay Cluster and Becca Horowitz, chair-elect, Mission Bay Cluster

Views stated below are personal opinions as parents and cluster volunteers. Franklin and Horowitz do not speak for San Diego Unified School District.

What were the biggest challenges that Pacific Beach faced in 2020?
Our schools faced the issues that the pandemic brought to all schools across the U.S. Digital learning was implemented in a very short timeframe with very little infrastructure and resources in place. Our teachers were faced with the need to pivot from in person teaching to online teaching with little time to adapt. Our students were also faced with adapting to a new format for learning and communication. The social emotional effects on our children will be far-ranging as we have found that it is difficult to create community in classrooms and schools without in-person contact.

What are the biggest issues Pacific Beach will face in 2021 and why?
2021 will, in many ways, be a continuation of the issues of 2020. Students will continue to learn in a hybrid manner, even if in person learning is possible. Schools will have to assess the learning deficits from losing almost a year of in-person instruction. One big issue schools will face is how to assess students in a consistent, fair and objective manner. Once that is determined, schools will need to determine how to provide supports and scaffolding for those students to recover and thrive in their learning. We are hopeful that the kids will get to re-enter classrooms and campuses and reclaim some of the traditional activities that make school experiences so meaningful: sports, clubs, after-school enrichment

What goals do you hope to accomplish in Pacific Beach in 2021?
Our goals for 2021 are simple: ensuring that kids can get back into classrooms in the safest way possible. The safety of students and staff and our greater community is our highest priority. Our hope is that we can achieve a return to full time in person learning with meaningful measurements of success by the start of the 2021-22 school year in August 2021.

What does the future of Pacific Beach look like?
The future of our Mission Bay cluster schools is very bright. Mission Bay High School has recently undergone site modernization, boasting a brand-new engineering wing and AC. Pacific Beach Middle School is currently in phase two of its whole site modernization which includes new state-of-the-art classrooms and learning spaces. The new building will be available to students starting in Fall 2021 and the whole project will wrap up by Winter of 2021. Our elementary schools continue to provide key building blocks in STEAM, Music, IB and Mandarin Chinese that feed into the International Baccalaureate programs at PBMS and MBHS. One of the tenets of the IB philosophy is to shape our students into balanced, compassionate, global citizens and the Mission Bay Cluster schools will continue to excel at that.

Jennifer Campbell, District 2 City Council president

District 2 City Council member Dr. Jennifer Campbell
(File)

What were the biggest challenges that Pacific Beach faced in 2020?
Pacific Beach has faced several challenges from the pandemic. From economic hardship, small business losses, increased littering due to the lack of indoor dining and the continued spread of COVID-19. The community of Pacific Beach was hit hard, but has been resilient in overcoming these obstacles. Additional challenges Pacific Beach has faced this year is the need for an enforceable vending ordinance, fighting the unsheltered epidemic here and helping those in need get off the street, continued quality of life crimes like theft and more.

What are the biggest issues Pacific Beach will face in 2021 and why?
Many of the ongoing issues that Pacific Beach has faced in 2020 will continue into 2021, stemming from the economic and health devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. The need to continue to support our small businesses will remain one of my top priorities. While a lot of PB’s vitality will be restored once a vaccine has been distributed to the general population, issues from 2020 will continue to reverberate. Finally Pacific Beach, like every other community in San Diego, will have to deal with the looming budget shortfall that the city faces and the fight to maintain core services that every resident needs.

What goals do you hope to accomplish in Pacific Beach in 2021?
Some accomplishments I look forward to achieving in 2021 include working to impose regulations on sidewalk vending while striking a fair balance for vendors and brick-and-mortar businesses. I also look forward to improving the quality of life for neighborhoods which have been negatively impacted by short-term vacation rentals. I will also continue to work with community members and stakeholders to make Pacific Beach a multi-modal neighborhood which promotes walking, biking and running thereby reducing our pollution and increasing our quality of life.

What does the future of Pacific Beach look like?
Pacific Beach has unlimited potential waiting to be unlocked. It’s a walkable compact community where people love their neighborhood and want to see it improve. I envision linking the commercial heart of PB with the new trolley stop, tackling climate change to stop beach erosion while doing our part to limit sea level rise and helping more of our unsheltered neighbors find and maintain housing. While it’s already a great place to call home with careful planning and dedication, Pacific Beach can become one of San Diego’s crown jewels.


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