Cities are the closest government to the people. To the League of California Cities, that is an important responsibility, and they are working to engage everyday people in efforts to improve government and enhance their communities.
On Monday, at the August luncheon at San Diego’s Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, the League’s San Diego County division focused on the importance of hammering out a vision for the future of the region, hand-in-hand with the people who live there.
Mary Ball with the San Diego Foundation and Vice President of its Regional Vision Initiative laid out the beginnings of a 40 year plan for San Diego County, which is expected to grow by 40 percent in the next four decades.
“The number one issue for San Diegans is job growth and economic development,” said Ball. “Other core issues include education, quality of life…. It’s expensive to live here, and the economy is struggling. We need some kind of plan.”
When asked what the plan would accomplish, Ball said it would help the public’s voice get heard.
The 40 year plan is designed to “ensure choices are made that are supported by the public,” Ball said. “It will help elected officials make decisions based on what the public would like to see and knowing how the public would feel about it.”
The crowd then heard from California Forward San Diego Regional Lead Teresa Acosta, who discussed the need for restructuring government, to bring more accountability and transparency to the process and ensure cities receive adequate funding to improve results.
Attendee Gary Felien, councilmember from Oceanside was skeptical but interested. “My concern with reform is that cities will get all of the responsibility and none of the revenue and that we’ll have to pay to clean up the state’s mess.”
San Diego City Council member Lorie Zapf reminded the crowd that the solutions are not rocket science. But, the system makes thing difficult.
“We know what the solutions are. They’re actually quite simple. But, we’re blocked,” she said. “We all know what we need, but some agencies are pretty entrenched.”
Overall, those in attendance say they want to work toward stronger communities and a more effective government. They were willing to entertain the ideas presented, but with a healthy skepticism based on what they see as the intransigence of the current system.