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An interview with 2020 San Diego mayoral candidate Scott Sherman

San Diegans will choose a new mayor on Tuesday, November 3. Hear what the candidates had to say.

SAN DIEGO — News 8 sat down in January 2020 with Scott Sherman, current San Diego City Councilman who is now running for San Diego Mayor. We asked him multiple questions that are important to San Diegans. 

They included: 

  • One of the biggest issues in San Diego is the housing crisis. Whether it is a shortage of inventory or residents being priced out of the market. What is your plan to deal with this issue? 
  • What do you see as the biggest issue right now with San Diego’s infrastructure? What is your plan to improve the overall quality of San Diego’s infrastructure? 
  • Climate change is an important issue for many San Diegans. Where can San Diego improve when combatting climate change? 
  • How will you deal with the differences and the particular needs of San Diegans when it comes to the White House’s policies on immigration and the border? 
  • Why should San Diegans vote for you?

Check out the full interview with Scott Sherman. A full transcription can be found below. 

Scott Sherman (R)

Barbara-Lee Edwards [00:00:00] Welcome, I'm Barbara Lee Edwards. Joining me in studio is Scott Sherman, who has thrown his hat into the ring for mayor of San Diego. We'd like to talk about a few issues affecting San Diego. First of all, thank you so much for joining.

Scott Sherman [00:00:11] My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Barbara-Lee Edwards [00:00:13]  What are the big issues are facing right now is a housing crisis and there's layers to it. You know, there isn't enough housing and what's available is very expensive to have a plan for that.

Scott Sherman [00:00:22] Yes. You know, and I agree with you, it's incredibly expensive. Both of my kids live out of state because they can't afford to live here. My daughter, unfortunately, took the grandkids with her. So it's even it's doubly troubling. But [00:00:34]the problem we have at City Hall right now, it's twofold, is we keep concentrating on taxpayer-subsidized housing, affordable housing to try and get us out of the housing crisis. And we're forgetting about the middle market, that the housing area where you're going from subsidized housing to the next level, you're going from seven hundred dollars a month in rent to two thousand dollars a month in rent. And one of the reasons that we have that disparity is 47 percent of the cost of building housing in this city is government regulation and red tape. If we can cut that out, then it won't be forcing the developers and the homebuilders to pass the costs the government puts on them onto the consumer. We need to start concentrating on that middle market. [39.3s] And you do that by middle-income density bonuses. You do that by changing your underlying zoning to try and incentivize instead of mandating that developers build this type of housing so our kids can come. My kids can move back. What zoning issues and specific density bonuses around mass transit and those types of things allowing for four more dense development on certain sites if you meet certain parameters. We actually have seen that in Grantville, in my district, in District 7. We did a Grantville specific plan which upzoned a lot of the area and gave incentives to homebuilders to build certain types of housing. You know, we've been arguing about 10 percent mandates for inclusionary housing. We've got 2,000 units coming online now without a mandate, without any kind of raising in fees. We've got 2,000 units coming online, 30 percent of which is affordable housing. All because the only thing we did was change the zoning and give some incentive to developers to develop a certain type of housing. We need to do that for that next rung in the economic ladder.

Barbara-Lee Edwards [00:02:12] Are you including accessory dwelling units in that are what most people know is granny flats? Because that is a big thing right now and a lot of restrictions have been lifted on the building of those as well.

Scott Sherman [00:02:20] Yeah, I was very happy to spearhead the charge on getting those things done. And to give you an example on how incentives work better than mandates. We put $800,000 into waiving fees for granny flats. We went from zero applications in 2017 to a little over 420 this year. Just because the barriers to entry to build that kind of housing went away because we waive fees and streamline the permitting and regulatory system. Do that with middle-market housing as well.

Barbara-Lee Edwards [00:02:48] Numbers that are part of the statistics are the homeless, which has become a real crisis in San Diego. What is your plan for dealing with that? I know as far as the proposal the cities put forward right now, one thing that you've taken issue with is you'd really like to see an increase in police presence. So talk to me a little bit about that and how that plays into your plan.

Scott Sherman [00:03:08] Yeah. We need we've done a lot. And as we should with the compassion side of things. [00:03:12]We've done a lot with permanent supportive housing, shelter, tents, places for people to stay overnight in their vehicles for those who are finding themselves living in their vehicles. But what we've lacked is the enforcement of quality-of-life type laws. And what happens if you have compassion without consequences? You a lot of times just become enabling. And that's what we're happening a lot in San Diego. A lot of the people in the homeless situation have an addiction problem, a drug problem that leads to crime problems and those types of things. We need to enforce those laws to compel people to seek the services that we already provide. [34.2s] To give you an example, in my district, in District 7, we opened up a permanent supportive housing project for veterans. A guy named Brian, I met there and he came to me and said, hey, I need to talk to you about closing down the tents downtown. I was thinking, oh, here's a problem. He said, I really want to say thank you for doing that. He said, I was living in those tents and I was shooting meth in my veins every day of the week. He says it wasn't until you broke up those tents. I went to the shelter. At the shelter, I found a caseworker, found benefits that we didn't know I had as a veteran, got into a sobriety program. Now he's living in one of those in one of those projects in a permanent supportive housing, clean and sober for 11 months now and moving well on his way to having a productive life. But that's only because somebody took the chance and the time to say, no, this isn't good for you. This isn't good for the community. I mean, as parents, a lot of times the best thing we can do for our children is say no.

Barbara-Lee Edwards [00:04:42] So it's sort of a political form of tough love in a way.

Scott Sherman [00:04:44] Yeah, like true love, in my opinion. Not necessarily tough love. It's more of a true love. It's not compassionate to let people keep living that lifestyle without trying to get them the help they need.

Barbara-Lee Edwards [00:04:53] I remember when Mayor Faulconer first came into office, he promised that one of the things he was really going to deal with was infrastructure. And he really has come through on a lot of road repair, the "Get it Done" app is very popular with a lot of people. And then at the same time, we have recently a lot of money being spent on bicycle lanes to encourage people to start cycling, going green, that sort of thing. Where does all of this come together? Because it's created a bit of controversy. People don't think that the infrastructure really has been dealt with enough. What is your plan for that?

Scott Sherman [00:05:24] [00:05:24]We need to concentrate on some bike lanes because we have our climate action plan and we have mobility goals that we need to achieve. But we can't do that at the expense of car lanes and parking spots and those types of things. I mean, most people can't do their regular job using mass transit or riding a bike. I mean, in the middle of the summer, I can't get on my bike ride 13 miles to city hall in 90-degree weather. Have a meeting there, then ride to Linda Vista, go back. You know, most people can't do that. It needs to be there for where it makes sense. Downtown Mission Valley, some of these areas where you can live, work and play in the same area, but we can't keep putting them in at the expense of the transportation that 95 percent of us use. [39.8s]

Barbara-Lee Edwards [00:06:04] How much of your platform focuses on the environment, climate change, things that San Diegans have done already? San Diego is, for the most part, seem to be very environmentally aware, but obviously there's still more we could be doing. What are some of your ideas?

Scott Sherman [00:06:18] [00:06:18]And with the homelessness issue that ties into a lot of the problems we have with water quality and trash and those types of things. A large portion of our pollution in our waterways come from homeless encampments along the rivers and those types. So if you do some of the tough love cleanup with the homeless situation, that also helps with the environment. And we need to concentrate more on recycling and doing those types of things and public education. [22.7s] I mean, never once have I seen a product go out on its own and throw itself into the environment. I mean, you go to the beach or the Fiesta Island after a major holiday, and it's a disaster from people leaving stuff everywhere.

Barbara-Lee Edwards [00:06:54] It just everything from furniture, everything, you name it. But this has been going on for years and years. How do you get that message out? How do you make people really pay attention to that?

Scott Sherman [00:07:02] Enforcement and of a public relations campaign both together. [00:07:06]More of a focus on response responsibility. I mean, I was brought up in the Boy Scouts and the Sierra Club and those types of things that we always taught leave only footprints and take only pictures. It amazes me how everybody can haul all this stuff down to the beach or the river, do whatever they're doing on vacation or when they're playing, and then they don't haul it back and they leave it there for somebody else. And that just ends up to be a problem. Enforce the litter laws and those types of things that are on the books already. [27.7s]

Barbara-Lee Edwards [00:07:34] How do you feel about some of the things that been implemented already? Some cities taking the initiative to ban styrofoam, to ban plastic utensils? What do you think about ideas like that?

Scott Sherman [00:07:46] I'm not a type of person who has a quick reaction towards banning a product because the products usually don't cause a problem, it's the way people utilize the products that are the problem. I'd much rather see more common-sense solutions towards recycling and those types of efforts. I mean, David Alvarez and I worked for a couple of years to get styrofoam recycling here in San Diego. We got it passed. We're going to start recycling Styrofoam because there's products that can be used from recycled foam. But then six months later, and people who voted for the recycling got on the political bandwagon of the day and decided to ban styrofoam. Wait a minute. Styrofoam still coming in. I mean, Amazon packages are loaded with Styrofoam that now can't be recycled and ends up in the landfill. Let's look at common-sense solutions to it and not just knee jerk reactions to grab a political headline.

Barbara-Lee Edwards [00:08:33] What are some of the more common-sense solutions that immediately come to your mind? If you can make a change right now, what would you do?

Scott Sherman [00:08:39] When it comes to the environment or just overall?

Barbara-Lee Edwards [00:08:41] The environment.

Scott Sherman [00:08:42] You [00:08:42]go back to recycling some more of our products that we just decided to ban because that becomes a problem. When it comes to awareness, have a lot more involvement. The Clean San Diego that the mayor is doing is a good start. We need to keep doing that and work more on cleaning up the rivers and the river bottoms and the homeless that caused some of those problems. [18.2s]

Barbara-Lee Edwards [00:09:01] You are the only Republican candidate. We currently have a Republican mayor that he's found it difficult to deal with President Trump on the issue of immigration and what's been happening at our borders. And it's created some tension there. Where would you pick that up? How would you approach that?

Scott Sherman [00:09:17] [00:09:17]I would do what's required by law. No more. No less. Our police aren't supposed to be enforcing immigration laws and federal laws. What we're required to do, provide security for demonstrations and those types of things. That's what we need to do. But we don't need to get involved in the federal political turmoil that's going on. I mean, quite frankly, I got involved in politics seven years ago, city politics, because it's a nonpartisan office. It's supposed to be running the nuts and bolts of the city and making sure it operates efficiently and gives the taxpayer a good bang for their taxpayer buck. That comes down to the city and quit getting involved in all the national and state politics. It's dividing us so much. [37.6s]

Barbara-Lee Edwards [00:09:55] When it comes down to civic politics, some cities have taken a stance where they wanted to come what's known as a sanctuary city. How do you feel about that?

Scott Sherman [00:10:04] [00:10:04]Sanctuary cities, I think, can lead to different problems with attraction of other people to come here and those types of things. We do what the law tells us to do, and that's it. That's our responsibility when it comes to immigration. [10.6s]

Barbara-Lee Edwards [00:10:16] You've watched what's been going on over your term. What is the one thing that you think has been handled incorrectly?

Scott Sherman [00:10:23] The biggest problem I see down at City Hall is the influence of special interests, whether it be unions or crony capitalists or those types of things. That needs to go away at City Hall and just do what is right for the taxpayers. Quit thinking about who endorsed you or who gave you money in your political campaign. That just drives me nuts. I make my decisions based on common sense. And if it makes sense and it's a good value for the taxpayer and for all of San Diego, not just special loud constituent groups. That's how I make my decisions. I mean, my father always told me you just do what you think is right. And at the end of the day, everything works out so.

Barbara-Lee Edwards [00:10:59] You have had some frustration during this last term. And this isn't one of our four questions. I do want to touch on it with you. Yeah, Scott, because you were counting down the days, so to speak, until your term was up. And you were the last person to enter your hat into the race. What compelled you to do that?

Scott Sherman [00:11:17] It was a very tough decision. And my wife and I especially were looking to going back to the private sector and a life of anonymity. But for the last few months, every time we went out in public, I'd get stopped by three or four people asking me to run for mayor. I mean, we're getting gas on the boat one day and the captain of a sardine boat was tied up there getting gas. He came down out of the helm to ask me to run for mayor. And then a kid who is a Harvard police officer who was gassing up right there came and asked the same question. And I got into politics the first go-round, not wanting to run for office, but I was asked by a bunch of people to run for office. And now it's a lot of people asking me. And it's not the people who stand to make money off of me in politics, because there is a lot of that. It was average everyday people we were running into. So my wife and I had a long decision while camping in the desert over Thanksgiving and off we went, decided we kind of had to do this.

Barbara-Lee Edwards [00:12:09] Well, I mean, I'll let you use these last few minutes to make your pitch then to San Diego voters. What are you offering? Why should they vote for you?

Scott Sherman [00:12:15] [00:12:15]Well, I've been there for seven years. I have a history of speaking common sense over the nonsense that we see at City Hall. I want to tackle our housing crisis and not with the politicians who are there now, because that's all they think of is government-subsidized housing. We need to work to let the market deal with things. We need a tough-love approach to homelessness. We need to end the special interest influence at City Hall and just make decisions. What's in the best interest of all San Diego is regardless of where you come. Or any of the other backgrounds. And that's the type of person I've been sometimes. It's worked out well. Other times people have been unhappy. But like I said, if you want somebody who's going to do what they think is right and not listen to all the pressure from all the other different places, except for the pressure that comes from the taxpayer, the people that pay us to do our salary and run the city for them, then I'm the guy you need to vote for, for mayor. [50.9s]

Barbara-Lee Edwards [00:13:07] Scott Sherman. Thank you very much for your time.

Scott Sherman [00:13:09] Pleasure.

Barbara-Lee Edwards [00:13:10] Current city council member and current mayoral candidate Scott Sherman. Thank you very much for joining us.

Scott Sherman [00:13:14] Anytime.

To see the interviews with the six other candidates, click here.

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