WORLD-CLASS TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM FOR A WORLD-CLASS CITY
I envision a clean transportation future for the City of San Diego and I will fight to enact strategies that offer true mobility options, reduce congestion, conform to the City’s Climate Action Plan and prioritize safety while encouraging economic growth.
Right now, we are at a crossroads where infrastructure needs are growing, transit ridership is declining, yet the disastrous effects of climate change pose a real and imminent threat. San Diego must begin to take transformative action immediately.
I will be a Mayor that pushes for a world-class transit system, connected communities with safe walkable and bikeable streets, and freshly-paved local roads. Together, each will help make up a transportation network to serve our 1.3 million residents and the millions of visitors who come to our city each day to work, patronize local restaurants and businesses, and recreate at our parks and beaches.
With the busiest land-border crossing in the western hemisphere, a regional airport that serves over 24 million passengers annually, and a major Port along the waterfront, San Diego’s Mayor must actively lead to set the direction at regional agencies including the SANDAG, MTS, the Port of San Diego, and the Airport Authority. As Mayor, it will be my priority to develop and implement a transportation vision that will keep San Diego moving forward for future generations – a transportation vision that works for all of us.
As Mayor, my focus will be on the following priorities to improve San Diego’s transportation network (in alphabetical order):
A Mobility Department
As Mayor, I will consolidate the various transportation functions that are currently scattered throughout various City departments into a single Mobility Department.
Currently, San Diego’s Transportation and Storm Water Department is fractured with a division dedicated to addressing water quality and storm water asset management, another dedicated to road repaving, and yet another dedicated to managing small to mid-size street improvements including sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, street lights, signage and minor road work. Additionally, other departments like Development Services, Public Works, Planning, and Real Estate Assets, sometimes take roles best suited for transportation professionals including permitting regional transportation projects and developing and prioritizing various transportation projects.
With a Mobility Department, San Diego will finally unite the various functions of planning, engineering, and implementing a transportation strategy that is consistent with the Climate Action Plan and make clear the priorities of the City to ensure residents, visitors, and businesses can get around and thrive.
With a growing senior population and many vulnerable populations needing reliable transportation to work, to run errands, or get to medical appointments, accessibility is a key transportation issue. As Mayor, I will work to prioritize this issue so that limited dollars can be allocated effectively to serve those with the greatest need. Additionally, as the City improves its transportation network to expand transit, biking, and walking opportunities, my administration will consult with the accessibility community through the office of ADA to make sure we are considering the needs of all residents.
The City must do more to make biking a viable and safe mobility option for average citizens. Studies show that even a small gap in a protected bike network can deter individuals from riding, so it is important that San Diego implement a connected network of separated and protected bike lanes. As Mayor, I will prioritize infrastructure improvements to increase safety for bicycle commuters. I will work with SANDAG to ensure the $200 million Early Action Plan funds are allocated to appropriate projects. I will support a Citywide policy to install bike lanes when a street is repaved, and also look for opportunities to for reconfigure appropriate streets through road diets. Maintenance of bike facilities is also critical to safety, so my administration will work to include bike paths in our repaving schedules.
My administration will also prioritize education, enforcement, and evaluation, to encourage safe riding and ensure that SDPD is aligned with encouraging safe behavior for all road users. The City will properly track critical data like ridership and GHG reductions as we implement projects to demonstrate impacts.
San Diego is the home of the busiest land-border crossing in the western hemisphere. Our collaborative economic partnership with Mexico is one of our greatest strengths as a region. As Mayor, I will continue to foster this relationship in order to take full advantage of San Diego’s strategic location in the Pacific Rim. I will continue to work to reduce border wait times and bolster the economic activity that serves our mega-region through the movement of goods and people. I will prioritize the completion of a third Port of Entry at Otay Mesa East. As the highest elected official in the region, I will work with regional, state, federal, and international partners to continue the positive momentum on enhancing border transportation.
Fixing our Roads
As a member of the State Assembly, I was proud to support and protect SB 1, which more than doubles the transportation resources that come to San Diego. As Mayor, I will make sure we spend your tax dollars wisely and work with staff to evaluate when a more thorough overlay is necessary and when a slurry seal is the most effective approach.
We will make sure our neighborhoods have “sexy streets” that improve the experience of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
Manufacturing is an important economic driver in the San Diego region. Whether we’re talking about imports from Mexico, our maritime terminals, local manufacturers, or traveling on heavy rail, transportation in San Diego requires a thoughtful transition to sustainable freight. As Mayor, I will work with Caltrans and other partners to lead on reducing GHG and air pollution from heavy trucks, diesel trains, and other high emitters by employing the Best Technology Available and exploring opportunities for retrofits while supporting jobs and economic activity.
Transportation is a rapidly evolving field with many experts and industry leaders anticipating automated vehicles, connected infrastructure, and mobility as a service to be the future. While we must be realistic about when those technologies may be deployed, a transportation vision for the future must anticipate and accommodate technological advances. With the deployment of 5G small cell sites, technology presents a number of data collection and analytical opportunities that can help effectively manage traffic distribution, provide predictive analytics to first responders, and inform planning efforts to help improve public safety, circulation, and prioritization of the most cost-effective projects. My administration will put these capabilities to use improving the lives of San Diegans without compromising personal privacy.
I believe that micromobility options, including e-scooters, can be a key last mile solution to bridge the gap between transit stops and the destination. They could also play an important role in meeting our city’s climate action goals. Despite these benefits, they are a disruptive technology and cities across America have struggled to find the right balance between accommodating this new technology and controlling the nuisance and safety factors.
In 2018, I co-authored a bill that prohibits riding scooters on sidewalks, operating them with more than one passenger, or operating one while under-the-influence. It also requires riders to have a driver’s license and outlaws leaving a scooter on a sidewalk if it blocks pedestrian traffic. These are common-sense regulations, yet it took the City nearly a year to get serious about enforcing them and to add local improvements to meet the specific needs of San Diego. The City Council finally passed a package of scooter regulations that went into effect on July 1, 2019.
If the current mix of state and city regulations don’t work, there’s more the City can do to address scooters. The City could issue a request for proposals and limit the number of scooter companies allowed to operate in San Diego. The City could impose a dynamic cap on the number of scooters each company can have on our streets. We could also mandate rider education initiatives to improve public safety.
MTS and Public Transit
As Mayor, I will actively serve on the MTS Board of Directors. By doing so, San Diego can drive the agenda on improving transit routes so residents are better connected to where they need to go. The bottom line is: San Diego’s transit system must be improved in order to be a viable mobility option. Therefore, it is imperative that we work with SANDAG, MTS and NCTD to make smart operational improvements to allow transit to be more competitive. Best practices like proper bus stop balancing, all-door boarding, fare simplification, and dedicated bus lanes must be studied and implemented. The City can dedicate right of way where appropriate to get transit out of general traffic in congested areas to make transit a more attractive option. We can also work with regional partners like SANDAG and Caltrans to explore new opportunities like the bus on shoulder pilot I advocated for as a City Councilmember. The City can work with MTS to offer true Transit Signal Prioritization to allow buses to jump the queue during peak hours. Additionally, we can help encourage the next generation of transit riders to ride by developing a Youth Opportunity Pass program. Lastly, we must continue to work on last mile solutions, including micromobility, to make sure folks can get to and from their final destination.
San Diego’s next Mayor will play a pivotal role in guiding SANDAG as our region moves forward with the next batch of major capital projects. Under Assembly Bill 805, the Mayor of San Diego has the ability to chair and lead SANDAG. Currently, the Mayor chooses not to assume this authority. As Mayor, I will absolutely assume this authority so I can fight for San Diego and secure the infrastructure dollars necessary to keep our economy thriving and to do what is right for the environment.
As SANDAG works to address regional priorities like enhancing mass transit, relieving congestion, and reducing border wait times, engaged leadership will be needed to ensure the best interests of our city are at-heart and SANDAG is transparent and accountable to the public.
San Diego Airport/Port of San Diego
The City is home to San Diego International Airport, which serves over 24 million passengers per year. In addition to the City’s three appointed board members, the Mayor appoints the chair of the Airport Authority Board. I will use this authority to continue pushing for transportation solutions to make getting the airport easier, including finally connecting the trolley to the Airport. I will work to ensure Airport access for all modes, including rideshare and transit is improved, and we have an Airport fitting to serve as San Diego’s front door to the rest of the world. This will include a new Terminal 1.
Similarly, the Port of San Diego manages 33 miles of coastline across five Cities, including two maritime terminals, two cruise ship terminals, and a number of active businesses, hotels, parks, and the San Diego Convention Center. The Port has a major role in aligning transportation access to the waterfront, climate goals, and a shared land use vision. I will work closely with the City’s appointed Commissioners, Port staff and the Port’s tenants to ensure that San Diego’s objectives are always a priority for the Port.
Transportation Master Plan
The City of San Diego needs a guiding Transportation Master Plan to effectively and strategically reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from transportation. San Diego’s transportation priorities are currently spread across various documents including the General Plan, individual community plans, and SANDAG’s Regional Transportation Plan. I will work with community stakeholders to develop and adopt a Transportation Master Plan to guide and inform what projects will most effectively help us meet our Climate Action Plan goals while leveraging our limited infrastructure dollars.
My administration will seek to improve our neighborhoods by enhancing walkability. We will invest in sidewalks, streetlights, parklets, and other innovative improvements that add to the quality of life in a community. When streets are activated and proper accessibility and pedestrian oriented infrastructure is present, public spaces draw people in. This is good for local businesses, reduces public safety risks, and it improves public health by promoting walking. Wider sidewalks, promenades, linear parks, street vacations for public plazas, are all ways that an average street can be transformed into a place where neighbors come together.
Vision Zero was adopted by the City in 2016 and set a goal for zero traffic related deaths. It acknowledges that traffic deaths are preventable through engineering and focusing improvements in areas with statistically high collision rates to mitigate safety risks. The City must take this seriously and prioritize improvements proactively in the budget. By working with law enforcement, community members and other stakeholders, my administration will make data driven decisions to fix the highest risk areas and safe lives.
Zero Emission Vehicles
ZEVs will be a major way for San Diego to reduce its carbon footprint, whether through private electric vehicles or zero emission buses. While we should not bank on this one tool addressing our GHG reduction needs, we should work with regional partners and state and federal agencies to build an EV roadmap that adequately plans for charging stations.