Elected representatives detail issues to impact Pacific Beach in 2022
With the new year comes some changes to Pacific Beach on the elected leadership front.
Last month the redistricting process that happens every 10 years based on the most recent Census concluded with new maps at the City Council, county, state and federal levels. This impacted the boundaries for elected representation and there were significant changes for Pacific Beach in this round.
One of the most notable has been its switch at the San Diego City Council from District 2 (represented by Jennifer Campbell) to District 1 (represented by Joe LaCava). The official change will occur later this month.
Another change is at the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. For the past decade it has been part of District 4, which most recently was represented by Supervisor Nathan Fletcher. However, as of Dec. 15, Pacific Beach became part of District 3 and its new representative is Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer.
Those who have been elected to represent Pacific Beach’s interests as volunteers at the community level in addition to government officials were asked to share their thoughts on what lies ahead for Pacific Beach in 2022. Here is what some of them had to say.
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“Pacific Beach is in a new City Council District, District 1 with La Jolla now and we have a new councilmember, Joe LaCava. Redistricting happens once every 10 years so the new District 1 will have a lasting impact,” said Marcella Bothwell, Pacific Beach Town Council president.
“Just because we are with La Jolla now does not mean Pacific Beach’s character will change,” she said. “Pacific Beach is a little over 40,000 people including older adults and singles, families with children, businesses, students and many more. We are a diverse community with many interests which also happens to have businesses who run entertainment establishments.
“I would like to see our different stakeholders communicate and work together for the betterment of Pacific Beach,” Bothwell said. “Looking forward, I have invited many stakeholders to join us at our monthly PB Town Council meetings so the community may come together over many challenging issues facing us.
“One new challenge is integrating the new Balboa trolley station into our community wisely,” Bothwell said. “A bridge either over or under the I-5 is integral for safety of those of us here in the community using public transportation and tourists using the community’s beaches and businesses. SANDAG (San Diego Association of Governments) has promised help with an east-west bus, but we have not seen this to its fruition yet. Congested traffic in the Mission Bay Drive and I-5 on and off ramps will continue to enlarge with more dense housing planned.
“The PB Planning Group members and PB Town Council members have set up a meeting with Chris Ward to discuss strategy on getting disparate groups including SANDAG, MTS (San Diego Metropolitan Transit System), the City of San Diego and even the railway stakeholders to solve this ongoing problem for anyone who has tried to leave PB between 4 to 6 p.m. weekdays. For public transit to work, it must be efficient to get people moving to where they want to go in a timely manner.
“Our beaches and Mission Bay are vital to our community for both pleasure and revenue,” she said. “The promised vendor ordinance is delayed with changes in the City of San Diego Council leadership. Making reasonable regulations protecting TOT (transient occupancy tax) paying businesses does not criminalize poverty. In fact, it allows a business environment where everyone can succeed and the beauty of our beaches and bay are preserved. The PB Town Council looks forward to reasonable regulations hopefully put forward in the new year.
“Finally, as a physician, I know COVID has taken its toll on all of us,” Bothwell said, adding, “We can all get through this together if we stay together. Everyone has different opinions but, as we go through this spring, my hope is that we can remain at least civil to one another’s differences. I am going to tell myself, ‘to think first before making an unnecessary remark,’ (because) that other person may be suffering something I don’t even know about now. Maybe, I should just let the moment pass. Easier thought, said and written than done, I know, and please try and keep me accountable if you see me around the neighborhood. And please say hello!”
The PB Town Council meets monthly at 6:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday from January through November. For meeting agendas and details, go to pbtowncouncil.org.
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“Looking ahead to 2022, the Pacific Beach Planning Group anticipates we will return to in-person meetings sometime in the near future,” said Chairman Karl Rand. “If feasible, we will try to run hybrid meetings that will allow for in-person participation but will also continue to provide live online access via Zoom or some other online source.
“Because PBPG is subject to the Brown Act (California’s open meeting law), we will follow guidance we receive from the state regarding the timing and procedures for that transition,” he said.
“PBPG’s primary function is to review building permit applications and advise the city on whether the proposed construction fits with our Community Plan,” Rand said. “Public review and comment on each application is an important part of our process. We have seen an increasing number of applications for Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) permits, and we expect that trend to continue in 2022 because of recent changes to state law and the Municipal Code that strongly encourage ADU projects. PBPG will continue to review each project on its individual merits.
“PBPG also advises the City Council and state legislature on land use policy issues, such as the regulation of Short Term Vacation Rentals (STVR),” Rand said. “The STVR ordinance that the City Council passed in February of 2021 still has significant unresolved issues regarding how a lottery system will be used to allocate the limited number of STVR permits authorized for investor-operators who do not live on-site. PBPG will continue to advocate for sensible solutions on such issues, and for development of an effective enforcement program to deal with problem STVRs.
“Street vending rules and regulations are another land use matter that PBPG will work on in 2022,” he said. “PBPG plans to actively participate in the City Council’s Economic Development Committee’s process of crafting a new street vending ordinance, and we will push hard to get a final ordinance in place for the summer of 2022.”
Rand said he wants to remind Pacific Beach residents that the planning group’s members are community volunteers elected each March. Those interested in running for office can get details by emailing Steve Pruett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The PBPG meets monthly at 6:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday. The meeting agenda can be viewed three days prior at pbplanning.org.
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“This will be an exciting time for everyone who lives in Pacific Beach,” said San Diego City Councilwoman Jen Campbell who is preparing to turn over her Pacific Beach constituents’ issues to Joe LaCava. “From action on longstanding issues to focusing on new priorities, 2022 is going to be a big year for one of San Diego’s most unique neighborhoods.
“First, I’m excited to see the impacts of legislation passed in 2021 implemented this year,” Campbell said. “We’re going to be finishing up new short-term vacation regulations that protect this neighborhood’s housing stock while allowing good actors the chance to continue operating. We’ll see a new parking district that will bring dedicated revenue to the business district and keep it beautiful. Finally, we’ll see how new public transit options decrease congestion and increase the quality of life in Pacific Beach.
“I’m going to continue to focus on advocating for much needed infrastructure projects from roundabouts to street light improvements,” Campbell said. “My biggest priority is to continue to work with my council colleagues to pass a vendor’s ordinance that will balance economic opportunities while returning our public spaces to residents and visitors alike.
“It has been a privilege to represent Pacific Beach for the past three years,” Campbell said. “I look forward to working hard every day this year to make sure we keep this wonderful corner of San Diego moving forward.”
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State Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, whose 39th District includes Pacific Beach, said 2022 is starting with “momentum” due to California having “a strong fiscal outlook.”
Atkins said the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office reports the year will begin with $51 billion in available discretionary resources. This money can be used for schools, health care and other General Fund needs “to ensure a more equitable economy that uplifts California families.”
“Our state was — and remains — well situated to navigate the fiscal impacts of the pandemic and our ongoing recovery,” Atkins said. “California’s strong fiscal health is the direct result of a decade of responsible budgeting by legislators and our last two governors.”
Atkins said the Senate’s budget priority values include maintaining the state’s reserves as protection from future downturns. Another is maximizing infrastructure investments — including for schools and higher education — and strengthening targeted tax relief programs. She also mentioned building a more equitable economy through investments that help residents get back to work, strengthen the middle class and assist struggling families and aging Californians.
“In 2021, we made enormous strides on health care, housing and homelessness, childcare, climate and education — in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic — and that work will continue,” Atkins said. “Among my legislative priorities is a bold, innovative first-time homebuyer program, the ‘California Dream for All’ program. It would be a collaborative program between the state and private investors designed to help more first time homebuyers, thereby increasing the opportunity to create intergenerational wealth. We’ll also continue to look at other potential solutions, like incentivizing housing production in commercial areas.”
As for communities in the 39th Senate District, she said focuses will include mitigating the impacts of climate change to ensure local governments have the resources they need to plan ahead for impacts ranging from sea level rise to wildfire mitigation, as well as drought and water resiliency solutions.