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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria delivers inaugural State of the City address

The new mayor detailed how the city will move ahead during the COVID-19 pandemic with his back-to-basics approach.

SAN DIEGO — Mayor Todd Gloria delivered his inaugural State of the City address as the 37th Mayor of San Diego on Wednesday from the San Ysidro Branch Library. 

Mayor Gloria outlined his plans to lead the City of San Diego forward during the COVID-19 pandemic to build a city for "all of us."

“Honestly, the state of our city is fragile right now, but I have faith it won’t be for much longer,” Mayor Gloria said. “At our core, our city is strong because San Diegans are strong.”

Gloria touched on multiple topics during the address since being elected in November 2020. After the event, he released a statement recapping his top priorities as he begins his first term.

Pandemic Response

As San Diego continues to shatter single-day records of cases and deaths due to COVID-19, Gloria noted that the pandemic is “far from over.”

Gloria has worked with San Diego County public health officials to train firefighters to administer vaccinations and open a large-scale vaccination center at the city-owned Tailgate Lot in downtown. He is vetting options to use city facilities to create more of these centers when vaccines are widely available to the public.

“The arrival of vaccines has given great hope, but the reality is that it is going to be months before we can possibly let our guards down,” he said. “We must continue to abide by the public health orders. We must do this to protect people and the economy.”

His “Back to Work SD” plan provides a roadmap to help San Diegans rebound from the pandemic. 

He announced that he is extending the current eviction moratorium and working with the San Diego City Council to expand similar protections to small businesses.

After the address, Keith Maddox of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council applauded the move to extend the eviction moratorium, 

"Some of these workers we are talking about are living paycheck to paycheck," Maddox said. "It is going to be tough on working families climbing out of that hole."

Watch the entire San Diego State of the City address:

Budget and Infrastructure

Even before the pandemic, Gloria said that the city was on shaky financial ground.

“Behind the ribbon cuttings and news conferences, the city faced structural budget deficits,” Gloria said. “It means that we are left with even fewer resources to fix our crumbling streets, city facilities and stormwater systems.”

Gloria has asked city departments to provide budget reduction recommendations in the coming weeks with the goal of minimizing impacts on core city services. He will ultimately present a balanced budget to the City Council for its consideration. 

Gloria pledged to change the way the city prioritizes road repairs to use data to drive decisions, be more equitable and focus on quality, long-term fixes on San Diego’s most used streets instead of calling thin coats of slurry seal “repairs.” 

Homelessness

Gloria vowed to implement a renewed focus on a housing-first strategy to combat homelessness and use stronger partnerships with the County Board of Supervisors to bolster the ranks of mental health clinicians, so they can be the first points of contact for unsheltered people instead of police.

“Let me be clear, we must change the status quo on homelessness,” Gloria said. “Some people want quick, easy solutions to one of our most complex and pressing issues, but there are no shortcuts to end homelessness. Instead, it will take steadfast, unrelenting tenacity.”

These housing solutions will include specialized "wrap around" social services, which are critical, according to Deacon Jim Vargas of Father Joe's Villages.

This is "so that they can retain their housing long term, and that is the key, because we don't want them back on the streets," Deacon Vargas said following the State of the City. 

Housing

San Diego’s lack of housing construction caused an affordability crisis that Gloria will address through policies that support development in all neighborhoods, especially focused near transit and jobs.

“A San Diego for all of us is a city where people at all income levels have a place they can afford to live,” Gloria said. “You should be able to have a roof over your head without worrying about putting food on your table.”

Public Safety and Racial Justice

While the San Diego Police Department has taken steps to improve hiring practices and update policies and procedures, Gloria and Police Chief David Nisleit will take further action to ensure policies focus on de-escalation and strengthen trust between officers and the community.

They agree that officers need clear expectations and strict accountability to create and maintain trusting relationships with the community. Mayor Gloria said he’s committed to fully implementing the Independent Commission on Police Practices, which was created by an initiative passed by city voters last November.

The city is working to build up the new Office of Race and Equity and has launched a national search for its first director. 

“This office is positioned to ensure that everything we do at City Hall is view through the lens of equity,” Gloria said.

Environmental Justice and Climate Action

Gloria announced that he will create a Climate Equity Fund to pay for sustainability projects in historically underserved communities and improve environmental health.

He said the city will update its Climate Action Plan, which the mayor authored while he served as interim mayor, including aggressive new goals and strategies to implement them.

"When I authored the plan seven years ago, I dreamed of a sustainable future with good-paying green jobs for generations to come," Gloria said. "We are going to have to take bold steps if we are going to meet our targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Cross-Border Cooperation

The mayor vowed to continue working with partners in the U.S. and Mexico to curb the flow of pollution into the Tijuana River Valley and onto our beaches and advocate for more efficient border crossings to grow the economy in our binational megaregion and improve quality of life for residents on both sides of the border.

He supports a proposed City Council resolution urging a reversal of federal policies that prioritized border wall construction and limited legal immigration.

“With support of the City Council and in collaboration with the new Presidential administration, we can repair the damage done to the environment and sacred tribal lands while we create a more inclusive society,” Gloria said.

Read his entire speech transcript here: