New City Council committee on economic development meets

City News Service

The San Diego City Council's Economic Development and Strategies Committee said the panel, which held its inaugural meeting yesterday at City Hall, will make a "real difference" for the area's businesses, its chairwoman said.

Councilwoman Sherri Lightner said she has been advocating for such a panel, which was created to help foster job creation, since joining the council in 2008.

"This is too important of an issue for the City Council to not be involved," Lightner said. "We as a council must take responsibility and find ways to attract, retain and grow our businesses."

The city has to spur economic activity in San Diego now and in the future, and undo a "nightmarish tangle" of regulations and red tape that make it difficult for owners to start and expand their businesses, she said.

Paul Webster, of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, applauded the creation of the group.

"The top of our priority list, in what we're hearing from our members, is we want to make sure this committee focuses on making business processes easier and less costly here in San Diego," Webster said.

The panel should focus on the region's core industries of high technology, defense and tourism, Webster said.

Other members of the committee are council members Marti Emerald, Kevin Faulconer and Lorie Zapf.

When discussing their priorities, Faulconer said he wanted to bring "specific items" to the full City Council to speed up private business interaction with the city's Purchasing and Contracting Department and shorten the amount of time it takes to acquire a permit to open a new business.

He also said he wants to examine whether fees and permits on home businesses are necessary.

Emerald proposed creating a 90-day action plan so the comments of her colleagues wouldn't "just be talk."

Zapf said the city had to find a way to help local businesses overcome "burdensome" state regulations.

The next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 27.

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