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September 22, 2011 (San Diego) –Congressman Bob Filner laid out an ambitious plan for revitalizing San Diego in a speech Saturday at the County’s Democratic Convention. He wants to transform the port into a maritime center to employ thousands of people and replace good-paying jobs for skilled middle class workers that vanished when General Dynamics left San Diego. He aims to make San Diego the alternative energy capitol of America, bringing green jobs to our region. In addition, he seeks to create a more “livable city”, moving redevelopment out of downtown and into communities with greater needs.
Why does he believe he can succeed at leading such a major redevelopment effort? Because he already has. “I wrote the Gaslamp plan,” he says of his service on the City Council before his election to Congress.
Back then, the Gaslamp was blighted by tattoo parlors and porn shops. “You go down to the Gaslamp today-- it’s lively and dynamic,” he says with pride. “We changed the whole nature of downtown.”
Now that downtown is no longer a blighted area, the feisty Filner has a new vision. “I want to turn CCDC into a neighborhood investment corporation,” he revealed. “Let’s define what neighborhoods need—parks, infrastructure, a swimming pool—and bring those dollars to them…Many neighborhoods you come from have been left out of San Diego’s economy, and we’ve got to change that.”
He also has plans to create an international shopping destination along the border. “The Chamber of Commerce says we leave $6-8 billion on the table every year because of an inefficient border,” he noted. “We could bring over legal shoppers…have cultural exchanges.” He wants to create a “smart border” utilizing technology to bring $6 billion or more to pump $6 billion a year into our region’s economy.
His job creation plan also includes creating demand for solar energy, with the city setting an example by powering public buildings with solar. The major blackout last week illustrates the need for decentralized power supplies, he adds. He also aims to bring jobs in sustainable resources of other types to our region, creating a green jobs hub.
He pledged to solve the pension problem “without throwing public employees under the bus.” He calls for reducing the money paid out each year for pensions, but opposes a plan to shift city workers onto 401K plans vulnerable to the stock market. (In a speech earlier in the day, he noted that city workers can’t collect Social Security. “We’re not going to leave the people who serve us every day without a pension,” he vowed. He said his plan would still save enough to free up millions for general fund uses such as filling potholes, keeping libraries and rec centers open, and making sure fire stations won t have brownouts.
Filner, former head of the San Diego Unified School District board, also detailed a plan to create after-school programs to keep kids out of trouble by partnering with cultural institutions, major league sports teams and businesses. “Imagine kids going to museums after schools, or to see the Padres, or to see how business works,” he said. “A city can do that.”
He vowed to open up city hall at least one evening a week to make it accessible for working people and parents, also suggesting the mayor be available on Saturdays to meet the people.
He concluded, “All of these visions take leadership. It doesn’t take billions of dollars. It doesn’t take rocket science. It takes someone who is willing to go from neighborhood to neighborhood and say, `We demand accessible government for everybody.’”
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