San Diego Mayor Faulconer talks roadwork, police, Chargers at La Jolla Rotary meeting


San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer marked his first anniversary in office at the Torrey Pines (La Jolla) Rotary Club March 4, where he was the guest of honor at the club’s weekly luncheon held at Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery.

Although he spoke and answered questions about city-wide issues, La Jolla concerns such as road work and police presence were addressed. At the end of his presentation, Faulconer declared March 4, 2015 “Torrey Pines La Jolla Rotary Club Day in the City of San Diego.”

Club president Jay Coggan applauded the mayor’s accomplishments since taking office March 3, 2014. He cited Faulconer’s order to direct 50 percent of all new revenue toward neighborhood improvement, like street repairs; hiring the first female police chief in San Diego history; increasing library hours (including at La Jolla’s Riford Library) to their highest in a decade; and more.

Promising to “repair the city’s repair program” Faulconer, who sat on the City Council for eight years prior to his mayoral election, said road repairs would be coming soon. “You and I both know the roads are bad across the city, so that’s something I will be working on with my colleagues on the council,” he said. “We are going to get projects done quicker, ensure better cash management standards and priorities management — including my commitment to pave 1,000 miles of road in the city over the next five years.”

Regarding the repair projects underway in La Jolla — including Coast Boulevard, Cave Street, Exchange Place, Prospect Place and other Village streets — Faulconer said, “It’s been long overdue. There are probably a lot more projects that have been waiting a long time here in La Jolla and it’s about time we got to it.”

He said there will be a “fair, straightforward” street assessment program rolling out in which a vehicle will drive around the city with a camera to evaluate street conditions, and repair projects will be prioritized based on need.

Increasing police presence

Acknowledging that thus far, the city “was not doing a very good job of attracting and retaining police officers,” Faulconer said the recent focus for Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman has been keeping police officers in San Diego. “We have come together with the City Council to create a five-year package, which is so important because we can offer better incentives for people to join our police academy,” he said. “As a result, we just had the largest police academy in 10 years that started (at the end of February). When we hire these men and women, we want them to stay here. We don’t want our city to become a training ground for other jurisdictions, which is what was happening.”

He added the city is on track to “have safer neighborhoods patrolled by the highest quality men and women, and more of them.”

Bolt up or just bolt?

Joking that, “something is going on with the Chargers these days,” Faulconer addressed the possible departure of the football team to Carson.

In February, it was announced the Chargers agreed to a joint partnership with the Oakland Raiders to build a stadium in Carson (about 15 miles outside of Los Angeles and 115 miles outside of San Diego) to house both teams. Faulconer soon formed the Citizens’ Stadium Advisory Group, composed of civic leaders and experts, and tasked it with finding funds for a stadium in San Diego.

“I am a big believer the Chargers should stay right where they belong in San Diego. I also believe we should have a (stadium) plan that is fair and responsible, and that protects taxpayers, which we can all come together as a city and ultimately have a vote on. “We can do this. We’ve done it before,” Faulconer said, referencing downtown’s Petco Park, home to the San Diego Padres. Park construction was put to a vote in 1998 and passed.

■ Torrey Pines La Jolla Rotary Club meets at noon, Wednesdays at Rock Bottom Brewery, 8980 Villa La Jolla Drive.