Barbara Bry delivered her third and final State of the District speech at University City High School on Jan. 29. The outgoing District 1 City Council member covered what she identified as her accomplishments in the past year, the critical issues facing the City, and her priorities for 2020.
Chief on her list of accomplishments, the La Jolla resident and former dot-com exec said, was publicly opposing what she called “the Soccer City landgrab” of the former SDCCU Stadium site.
“If I have accomplished nothing else in my time on the Council, defeating Soccer City and getting SDSU West over the finish line is a legacy that will benefit this region for generations to come,” she said.
Bry also mentioned the recently enacted Citywide boardwalk ban on motorized vehicles, an ordinance she spearheaded.
“I think the lifeguards are very happy about that,” she said, motioning to a loudly clapping contingent of uniformed officers in the front row led by lifeguard chief James Gartland. (The 100-strong crowd — which included La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board chair Dave Abrams, La Jolla Shores Association president Janie Emerson, City Council District 1 candidate Joe LaCava, and two board members of La Jolla Parks & Beaches — applauded each accomplishment and about a dozen other points Bry made during her 20 minutes at the lectern.)
Bry also mentioned her call for an independent audit of City of San Diego Water (which resulted in the reversal of widespread overcharges on residents’ water bills), opening the Gilman Drive Bridge, breaking ground for Fire Station 50 in University City, funding the design phase for Marcy Park, and completing the Pacific Highlands Ranch Community Park & Recreation Center in Carmel Valley.
Knowing laughter from the La Jollans in attendance erupted when Bry joked about installing a safety measure “to try and prevent trucks from getting stuck on Hillside Drive” to her list of achievements. (In August, new, additional and even flashing signs were installed near the street’s intersection with Torrey Pines Road, yet trucks continue to get stuck on the steep incline and block traffic.)
Bry broke the news to many in the audience that Senate Bill 50 was defeated only a few hours earlier in the State Senate, 18-15. She said she supports increasing population density along transit corridors “wherever it makes sense to ad density.” (She mentioned that she voted to upzone community plans in Mission Valley, the Midway area, Lorena and Balboa.)
“What I do not support is allowing Sacramento the authority to make such decisions with zero input from residents and zero respect for the unique character of our neighborhoods,” she said.
Among the critical issues Bry identified as still facing San Diego are homelessness, housing and short-term vacation rentals. While ticking them off, the self-branded political outsider came out swinging against the outgoing administration of Mayor Kevin Faulconer, whom she is currently campaigning to replace. (To do so required her to become an outgoing Council member.)
During her three years in office, Bry said, she discovered that “much of the conventional wisdom at City Hall is just plain wrong.”
“Quite frankly, what I found there was a mess,” she elaborated. “I found a culture of no accountability and no transparency.”
Bry used the construction on Coast Boulevard in La Jolla last summer, above the destabilized Koch’s Sea Cave, to exemplify this culture.
“In June, City officers got a report about geological problems,” she noted, “but didn’t acknowledge this and start the repairs until August.”
Since Bry will serve through December 2020, she closed her speech by identifying some of her key budget priorities for the next 11 months. These included:
1) critical resources for the lifeguards;
2) a five-year financial for the climate-action plan;
3) no library service reductions;
4) repairing the Coast Walk Trail;
5) a small increase to arts and culture; and
6) fully staffing code enforcement.
“As I serve my last year as a City Council member, my commitment to you is to continue to focus on our neighborhoods and quality-of-life issues that make San Diego the City we love,” Bry said, wrapping up with a reference to her mayoral campaign.
“While this is my last State-of-the-District,” she said, “I may have a chance to see you all next year.”
— To reach District 1 City Council member Barbara Bry: City Administration Building, 202 C St., MS #10A, San Diego, CA 92101. (619) 236-6611. E-mail: email@example.com or visit sandiego.gov/citycouncil/cd1