Before running for the Council, I had never sought elective office. But I had a pretty good idea about how government worked. After all, I had been active in the community for many years.
I had covered politicians as a journalist and worked with them as an entrepreneur. I had been a leader in organizing and supporting causes and candidates I believed in for years. I served on the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood and founded organizations such as Athena San Diego and Run Women Run that have provided pathways for women into the tech industry and into public service, respectively.
What I found at City Hall is not what I expected. And what I found is something every San Diego resident has a right to know.
We did not get there -- could not get there -- overnight. Each day I encounter issue after issue in which decisions are made with either no information or bad information.
● No long term data-driven plan for addressing the homeless crisis.
● No comprehensive plan for managing the City’s massive real estate portfolio.
● No critical infrastructure inventory.
● Not even a simple game plan for employee recruitment and retention.
I found a City that lurches from one shortsighted decision to the next. A political class that confuses headlines with accomplishment. And little concern for, or understanding of, how the City got to where it is. There is an old saying in business, “If you don’t know how you got there, it’s hard to find your way out.”
I have always worked hard to be a good learner. In fact, I attribute much of my success in business to recognizing that our first ideas are not necessarily our best ideas. When you run a tech business, rapid change is the rule. So, my first instinct was, “Ok, I just need to learn the ropes around here and I’ll figure this out.”
But I’m a learner. So, I kept at it. Called on my journalism experience. I kept digging. I set aside my political hat for my management hat.
I asked the questions any good CEO, or mom, would ask: “Who decided to do this?” “Why did you decide to do this?” “How long have you been doing this?”
The more I asked, the more I realized just what an outsider I was. These “mistakes,” just like the embarrassing condition of our crown jewel, Balboa Park, aren’t mistakes at all. They are simply the inevitable result of systemic dysfunction. A dysfunction that has been firmly ingrained in the culture of City leadership for many, many years.
I kept learning until I realized that the choices put in front of me as a councilperson were inadequate. Even the best efforts of bright young councilmembers would ultimately fail.
My experience and understanding of capital markets, the innovation economy, and the role local governments can play to land more higher wage jobs and broaden the City’s tax base is what will make for a strong Mayor.
Some key objectives: Downtown must become a thriving technology and arts center that provides training and employment for those living in and around downtown.
SDSU West can also be an economic engine for the city by replicating the success of UCSD as a job incubator.
The City has an amazing untapped potential in communities south of Highway 94 already served by the trolley.
A strong Mayor can use these assets to lure Fortune 500 companies as well as to nurture local entrepreneurship.
And realistically, we can’t meet our climate goals without addressing the geographic misalignments that characterize our current “reverse” commute environment.
It is both an economic and an environmental imperative.
Put simply, I believe in every neighborhood's right to participate in and plan its own future. A strong Mayor takes her ideas from the neighborhoods south of 94, Mission Valley, downtown and North City. That’s why we have community planning groups. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for land use and planning.
That’s why I have opposed the so-called “YIMBY” agenda at City Hall to waive height limits and parking requirements, and opposed legislation in Sacramento that would convert single family R1 zoned neighborhoods into high-density apartments.
I understand the Wall Street money backing these schemes. I am sure that many of the folks promoting these ideas are sincere and simply naïve about the real money and the real motivations behind the YIMBY campaign. But I have raised investment capital. I see exactly what they are up to. And it will be extremely profitable for them if they can get the politicians to do their work for them.
This is also why I am far more skeptical about early stage start-ups like rideshare scooters. I’m a tech person. I’m all for “the sharing economy” as part of our future. But I’m not about to hand the keys to the City over to a bunch of speculators.
I don’t want to dismantle our neighborhoods with high rises and fourplexes. I want your kids and grandkids to want to live here. And I want them to be able to afford to live here. I have already begun to unwind the City’s bureaucratic and punitive building permit process. Lowering the cost to build can help.
I voted for and will continue to vote for increasing densities along transit corridors where it makes sense. But we have plenty to keep us busy in the urban core. Before we start telling folks in Tierrasanta or Rancho Penasquitos that they have to accept the dismantling of their single-family residential neighborhoods, we ought to see if we can get downtown right first.
That’s ok. It was the same for me when I entered the tech world. I learned. I succeeded. I want to bring that path of success to City Hall. That means challenging the status quo and the entrenched special interests. The City has good people who want to do good things. I need your help to get them off circular path of recycling ideas and put them on the path to success.
As for myself. I can only promise you this: I will always be open with you about my ideas and conscious of the fact that my ideas will only get better by listening to yours.
I will bring leadership that puts solutions for San Diegans first, prioritizes fiscal discipline, stands up to the special interests, treats all residents and communities fairly, and creates comprehensive solutions to long-standing problems.
Hundreds of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents are helping Barbara because they know she will clean up the mess at City Hall.
Will you join us?