Thursday, September 10, 2020

The 2020 Race for San Diego Mayor (cont'd):

ACT II: A Cautionary Tale About What a Council Member's Negligence, Lack of Independence, Inept Management, and Behind-the-Scenes Manipulation Can Do to a City

Scene One: Setting the stage for the winners… and losers

There's no denying it--life feels out of control nowadays.  Upended.  Throw in the national political scene and it's enough to push you over the edge.

But gird yourself for some good news.  Here at home we're blessed with the extraordinary opportunity to seize control of San Diego's political destiny.  It’s no exaggeration.   

The person we choose as our next mayor (Barbara Bry? Todd Gloria?) will shape the quality of daily life for more than 1½ million San Diegans for years to come.   Which one can we trust with the power to control who gets what in our city… who benefits from the policies, decisions, contracts, appointments, agreements, awards, favors, negotiations, and other goodies originating in City Hall… and who gets left with the crumbs? 

Based on Todd Gloria's history and campaign contributors, the answer is clear: Mr. Gloria is the wrong choice for the mayor's job.   

Yes, he seems likable… a winsome kind of guy who packages himself as a gay person of color from an economically disadvantaged background and ethnic mix: 50% Alaskan tribal/native American, 25% Filipino, a tad Dutch, and a touch Latino/ Puerto Rican... in other words, a politician for the underdog, a man for all seasons and occasions. 

If all things were equal between Barbara Bry and Todd Gloria, it's tempting to think that San Diego might score a few points by electing the city's first gay mayor—a guy who talks a lot about sexy streets and transforming San Diego into a world-class city. 

But all things... ability, integrity, management skills... are not equal between these two candidates.  Todd Gloria's political record, associates, and financial backers paint an explicit picture of a politician who's been co-opted by our city's pack of alpha dogs.  Identity labels notwithsatanding--Todd Gloria is the wrong choice for San Diego mayor. 

Scene Two: Who owns Todd Gloria? 

Behind the curtains are  San Diego's alpha dogs,  sniffing the air expectantly and straining to run onstage.  Who are they? The bankers, lobbyists, real estate industry, developers, sports team owners, convention center purveyors, land speculators, consultants, building trades organizations, Chamber of Commerce, Port District--the power brokers who exercise a disproportionate amount of leverage in our city's abundant and lucrative transactions.   

If you want to know what to expect from a candidate who's been embraced and groomed by the alpha dogs of San Diego, just follow the money.  Mr. Gloria's list of campaign contributors reads like a who's- who of our city's entrenched guard: 

SeaWorld/ Sempra Energy/ Hoteliers Bill Evans, C. Terry Brown, Richard Bartell/ Ace Parking/ Cox Communications/ Cush Enterprises/ CA Association of Realtors, CA Building Industry Association, CA State Building & Construction Trades Council/ private prison contractors doing business with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)/ Oliver McMillan 

Yes, money talks.  It repeats loud and clear that Todd Gloria is the wrong choice for mayor.  The volume gets turned up even louder by contributions from "independent expenditure" PACS like these 

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce super PAC ($62,500)/ Laborers’ International Union of North America local 89 PAC ($50,000)/ Southern California District Council of Laborers PAC ($50,000)/ Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation ($75,000)/ Laborers Pacific Southwest Regional Organizing Coalition PAC ($25,000)/ Mel Katz ($10,000)/ LGBT Caucus Leadership Fund ($75,000)/ California Apartment Association PAC/ San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council PAC…  

 Scene Three: Todd Gloria's performance at the City Council 

Not yet convinced that Todd Gloria is the wrong choice for the mayor's job?  Then consider his eight-year stint on the city council (2008-2016) and the decisions he made that were pockmarked by bad judgement, incompetence, pandering, abuse of power, behind-the-scenes manipulation, and overreach:  

 re. Sempra Energy headquarters (101 Ash Street): At this very moment Mr. Gloria is on the hot seat, struggling to justify his starring role as council cheerleader for the disastrous, maybe corrupt plan spearheaded by Mayor Faulconer (with complicit thumbs-up from City Attorney Jan Goldsmith) to purchase this property: bad judgement? incompetence?

  re. Balboa Park: As councilmember for that district, Mr. Gloria a) played cheerleader for a community-reviled plan to construct a bypass bridge and city-financed paid parking lot in the Park; b) negligently withdrew supervision of the newly-created Balboa Park Conservancy, leaving it to sputter and languish; c) wasted $3 million of public funds on a sole-source contract for the Balboa Park Centennial Celebration.  Despite promoting it as a spectacular citywide festival, he never got it off the ground: just plain incompetence? 

  re. Mr. Gloria's hearty support of an unprecedentedly long 40-year lease extension for Mission Bay Bahia Hotel, which carried the day for hotel owner Bill Evans--a dependable financial backer of the councilmember: pandering? behind-the-scenes manipulation? 

  re. Mr. Gloria's unethical pressure (according to court documents) on a city planner to doctor findings on a hotly-disputed expansion of a private religious school Academy of our Lady of Peace, which cost the city more than half a million dollars in legal settlement fees: more behind-the-scenes manipulation? 

  re. full-throated support for the city to fund a third phase of the Convention Center expansion, even though the city was still financially on the hook, still paying for the previous expansion: bad judgement? pandering?   

Now consider his record during the six-months he performed 
the role of interim mayor: 

  re. his attempt to reorganize city government by hiring an "efficiency expert" (Stephen Goldsmith) who specialized in the privatization of public services and the sale of city business functions to the private sectorabuse of power? behind-the-scenes manipulation? overreach? 

  re. his peculiar decision to rehire two recently fired lobbying firms­­--one involved in an influence peddling scheme, the other aligned with Jerry Sanders and Doug Manchester: pandering? bad judgement? incompetence? overreach? 

  re. his unwarranted action to eliminate a stop-use order slapped on a North Park Jack in the Box for zoning code violations, rejecting a community outcry: pandering? abuse of power? overreach? 

  re. his decision to defund a program to keep emergency shelters open year-round, impeding the city's ability to provide emergency shelters as needed (and contributing to the death toll taken by a Hepatitis A outbreak among the homeless population just a few years later): bad judgment? incompetence? 

  re. his (self-protective?) decree to automatically delete and destroy city emails older than one year (a new administration reversed this order): bad judgment? abuse of power? behind-the-scenes manipulation? overreach? 

These examples of political bad judgement, incompetence, pandering, abuse of power, behind-the-scenes manipulation, and overreach tell a tangled tale--one that does not deserve an encore. 

Curtain Call:  

Not long ago I made a practical suggestion: forget the fancy stuff... the bells and whistles... the silly-talk about sexy streets and world-class status. 

With the right mayor in office we could see real progress toward meeting the needs of our neighborhoods and residents and securing a stable future for the city.  

Barbara Bry is the candidate who meets the criteria for:  competence  stability  independence  trustworthiness responsibility✔  knowledgeability✔ honorability  integrity  and a dependable moral compass

There's no getting around it: Barbara Bry is the best choice for San Diego's next mayor.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The 2020 race for San Diego mayor: A Tragicomedy in Two Acts

ACT I: A Cautionary Tale About What a Mayor's Negligence, Lack of Independence, Inept Management, and Behind-the-Scenes Manipulation Can Do to a City

Scene One: Let's talk politics

We can start by noticing that "politics"
 is simply the exercise of power that determines who gets what, when, and how.

It means that on election day, either Barbara Bry or Todd Gloria will be handed the power to determine which beneficiaries will prosper (for decades to come) from the policies, decisions, contracts, agreements, awards, favors, negotiations, and other goodies originating in City Hall.   

So before we decide which candidate deserves the political power to determine who gets what, when, and how, we might want to know which one can be trusted to take the interests of the public seriously enough to place it ahead of all others.   

And of course we need to be sure about which candidate has the ability and integrity to successfully oversee and manage our deteriorating, problem-plagued city.

These are not frivolous questions.  Ever since San Diego traded in its flawed "city manager" form of government for an equally problematic "strong mayor" system, we've seen a steady decline in government oversight, services, maintenance, management, accountability, and problem-solving.

Furthermore, our recent strong mayors have used their upgraded status to replace scores of knowledgeable, professional city employees with unqualified political appointees.

But let's not jump to conclusions.  The devil doesn't necessarily dwell in the system but in the capabilities, integrity, and trustworthiness of the people we elect.  

Scene Two: Goodbye America's Finest City.  Hello Enron-by-the-Sea

A bit of history: The city's strong mayor system went into effect in 2004, the year Dick Murphy was reelected mayor.  San Diego was
 on the brink of bankruptcy as a result of a notorious scheme concocted a few years earlier to grossly underfund our municipal employee pension system (and simultaneously boost salaries and pension benefits).  To give the illusion of a balanced budget, city officials cooked the books.
Another historic note: this disastrous imbroglio was set in motion under the old city manager system.  It was designed and implemented with the blessings of San Diego's wizard city manager Jack McGrory... and christened by then-city attorney John Witt, and after him, Casey Gwinn.

Mayor Murphy resigned within a year of his reelection and was replaced in a special election by Jerry Sanders. 

Ex-police chief Sanders originally opposed the strong mayor option.  He characterized it as "a power grab by inside players who would drain public services…to subsidize powerful developers."  He predicted it "would reduce accountability of your elected officials."

But Jerry Sanders--a man of flexible principles--changed his tune once San Diego's "inside players" and "powerful developers" joined forces to make him mayor.  Mayor Sanders became the mouthpiece for retaining the strong mayor system, declaring it was the best way to bring accountability and checks and balances to city government and prevent future financial debacles. 

Scene Three: So long America's Finest City. So long Enron-by-the-Sea.  Hello YIMBY Paradise

History lesson is over.  The story resumes with Kevin Faulconer, past councilmember (2006-2014) and our city's fourth stong mayor.  

Despite his sterling credentials as a public relations professional, this mayor created a new image for San Diego--a poster child for bad planning and incompetent (... corrupt?) city governance.

Kevin Faulconer leaves a load of nasty baggage for his successor mayor to clean up, no matter which one it will be.  

Here's a sample of what it looks like:

·   ➽ Over the past decade more than $220 million of public funds were paid out for claims and lawsuits (over 20,000 of them) against the city due to broken sidewalks, water main breaks, police misconduct,  poorly trained employees using city vehicles… 

· ➽ Unspeakable incompetence in managing the hepatitis epidemic that swept through the city's homeless population, leaving over 400 hospitalized and 20 dead 

·  ➽  A city budget on the hook for an annual payment to the municipal employee pension plan of $365.5 million--up from $280 million the year Faulconer took over the city

· ➽  Untold millions squandered on failed attempts to offset budget deficits and deep cuts in city services by selling off city assets to for-profit developers 

· ➽  More untold millions squandered on botched attempts to acquire motel properties for drug rehab centers… a fire engine maintenance yard… a shuttered indoor skydiving facility for a homeless service center…

·  ➽ Greater untold millions paid out on a contract to outfit the city with  smart street lights , so plague-ridden by mismanagement, cost overruns, maintenance problems, and deceptive practices that it had to be rescinded and completely overhauled

·  ➽  Greatest untold millions wasted on shady dealing to purchase the now-notorious downtown Sempra Energy building at 101 Ash Street

·  ➽  Last ditch efforts by the mayor to cement his legacy via construction deals for Qualcomm Stadium, the Midway Sports Arena, non-standard city parks, Complete Communities zoning overhauls--despite a warning from the San Diego Union Tribune to "Keep Faulconer Away From City Real Estate" 


As the curtain falls on Act I of this municipal tragicomedy, keep in mind that the 
outcome of a mayor's negligence, lack of independence, inept management, and behind-the-scenes manipulation is bad... very bad... for all of us.  

Will the next mayor we elect be smart and independent enough to break the mold?

The curtain goes up on Act II after a short intermission.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Voter suppression--San Diego style

I have a secret to confess.  When I was a little kid and couldn't figure out how to deal with a really big problem (like, for example, how to get my mom and dad to play nice with one another), a murderous thought sometimes crossed my mind:  One of them would have to disappear… permanently.  There seemed no other way.  

Not very mature of me, I guess.  Not too practical, either. Then again, what do you expect from a seven-year old?

But, when adult politicians and wannabe decisionmakers propose options to resolve San Diego problems, would my childish approach be considered a rational, responsible, appropriate course of action?

And yet, two weighty proposals are currently percolating in the bowels of San Diego that--in some screwy way--are as irrational, irresponsible, and counterproductive as anything a reckless seven-year old could dream up.

Anti-voter proposal #1 would put an end to the longstanding ability of San Diego voters to elect their City Attorney--the legal head of city government. 

Remember this: Way back in 1931, reform-minded San Diego voters decided that the best way to protect the public interests of all city residents--not just the particular interests of the Mayor and City Council--was to amend the city charter to establish an elected, independent City Attorney who would be directly answerable to the people of San Diego.

Proposal #1 would eliminate San Diego voters from the equation and give the Mayor the power to appoint his/her own private sector City Attorney. 

But why resort to such an extreme proposal that would deep-six an elected official and reincarnate her/him as a political appointee?  

Apparently, some people don't like the way our city's current first female/Latina City Attorney--has been doing her job.  

Apparently, some of them decided that Mara Elliot had to go… disappear… permanently.  And maybe the entire City Attorney's office, to boot. 

Apparently, they figured that voter suppression isn't too high a price to pay if you call it "streamlining city government."  

It's unlikely that even an irrational, irresponsible seven-year old would go along with a proposal as off-the-wall and vindictive as this one.
Anti-voter proposal #2: Most likely, you've already read my impression of the mayor's Complete Communities Initiative.

Proposal #2 does an additional whack job on San Diego voters, this time by eliminating citizens' rights to guide the future of our growing city--our streets, sidewalks, neighborhoods, communities, coastline, parks, canyons, bus and trolley lines…. 

The Mayor's Complete Communities proposal would eliminate San Diego voters from the equation and transfer control directly to builders, speculators, and developers (local, out-of-state, or overseas) to decide where, when, what, and how much gets built in neighborhoods throughout the city.

Remember this: Decades ago, City Council 600-24 created a system of elected community planning committees to advise the City Council on planning issues in their respective communities. 

For more than 54 years, San Diego voters operated with official assurance that "once a community plan is adopted, the community planning group and the City must make sure that development projects adhere to a community plan's policies and that a community plan continues to be a valid projection of the future…."

And yet, even a seven-year old might notice the reek of voter suppression when:

  •  Under cover of today's health crisis, budget crisis, jobs crisis, and housing crisis, our City Council members are taken out of the planning and land-use decision-making loop...  
  • The Mayor's team shuts down direct public participation in matters of vital public business...
  •  Our elected representatives relinquish their role to act in the best interests of us--their voting constituents--rendering district elections more or less a farce...
  • Developers are given license to call the planning shots, leeaving residents with no recourse.
  • Voters are denied a voice to resist ever-worsening neighborhood displacement when San Diego already leads the pack (just behind Washington DC) of US cities with the highest percentage of gentrifying neighborhoods.

 The merits of the Complete Communities plan may be plentiful: 
+ Of course we need more affordable housing!
+ Of course we need well-planned, efficient transit!
Of course many neighborhoods need better parks!
Of course we must arrest destructive impacts on the environment!

The demerits of the Complete Communities plan are numerous and unsupportable: 
^Surely we know that exclusionary housing policies are unethical and illegal!
^Surely we know that growth impacts on climate, water, and utilities need better, more complete analysis!
^Surely we know that San Diego voters and city officials must remain inseparable partners!
^Surely we know that community input addressing the impacts of densification must be mandatory!

And surely we can forgive a confused child for her poor judgment and reckless and desperate fantasies.  The same does not hold for our politicians and city leaders.

Until citywide debate and planning for the future of our city is open to San Diego citizens and community groups, Complete Communities will continue to be a highly flawed and incomplete initiative.  Shutting out the voice of the voter must be a non-starter.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Complete Communities: Scourge or Savior?

Part I: Complete Communities
Over the past six months, the international scientific community has been working its tail off to subdue the coronavirus scourge wreaking havoc on the world population. 

Meantime, Americans are taking to the streets demanding the annihilation of other malignant viruses infecting our nation--namely, racist violence by the police and the embedded racism that underlies too many of our country's institutions.

How are San Diego leaders responding to this pandemic moment of economic, political, and life-threatening upheaval?  The answer won't make you proud.  It could make you angry.

Throughout these past months of social turmoil, racial reckoning, and a deadly health crisis,  San Diego's Mayor-- along with city planners and the development industry--have laser-focused their efforts on fast-tracking an extraordinary proposal called "Complete Communities: Housing Solutions and Mobility Choices Initiative" which:
... removes regulatory barriers to housing at all income levels, especially low, very low, and moderate-income households, while investing in neighborhood and mobility amenities, such as recreational opportunities, street trees, linear parks, bicycle facilities, urban plazas, and promenades.
The Complete Communities plan purports to diminish the city's greenhouse gas emissions while it fixes the dilemma of housing unaffordability, and will also:
… provide all residents access to the resources and opportunities necessary to improve the quality of their lives… a healthy environment and thriving communities... to enhance the quality of life for all residents, regardless of their background and identity.
And how will this urbanized Garden of Eden be created?  By enabling multistory redevelopment, substantial population growth, and high densities in neighborhoods and communities throughout San Diego.

The proposal has a magic wand that will eliminate "regulatory barriers" like existing zoning regulations, height and setback restrictions, environmental analyses, and community review.  And ABRACADABRA! a bucket of fairy dust that will guarantee generous financial incentives to builders plus a license to build whatever they see fit to build, whenever and wherever they are ready to build it. 

Part II: Incomplete Communities
You may be wondering why you have never heard of this transformative political initiative to rebuild the physical, social, and--indeed--the racial identity of our city.

It's because Complete Communities was conceived and gestated in private--no citizens' committee, no speeches from the Mayor, no open workshops, no publicized opportunity for your input, questions, or concerns.

There's no other way to say it: Mayor Faulconer has betrayed San Diego voters by handing over control of our city's future to the region's business/builder/growth industry--with the complicity of gullible YIMBY acolytes. 

And you--whether homeowner, renter, citizen, resident, or taxpayer--are not only expected to put on a facemask, your Mayor is also counting on you to don a gag and blindfold when it comes to shaping your neighborhood's future and the city's fate.  

 But the most egregious betrayal of all is that—at root--Complete Communities is a government-sponsored racist proposal.  

Why do I say that?  Consider this: 
  • The housing element of San Diego's General Plan informs us that our city "must have an adequate supply of housing to maintain its economic competitive edge and house its workforce."  It warns that, "with the emergence of San Diego's knowledge-based economy it is critical to ensure there is a steady supply of housing coming online to meet the needs of this diverse group of workers." 
  • Between 2000 and 2010, the number of Hispanic and Asian residents living in San Diego increased by 21% and 24%, respectively.  White and Black residents declined by 2% and 11% over the same period.
  • SANDAG predicts that these trends will continue for at least another decade. The forecast says that the city's Hispanic population will account for 35% of the total population.  For the Asian population it's 16%.  For the Black population it's 6%.  The White population will decrease to 38%.

  • The poverty rate within the Black and Brown communities is more than double that in San Diego's White community.

The truth is, Complete Communities it designed to meet more of the economic needs of the development industry than the need for adequate, affordable housing for the city's "diverse group of workers" and for other essential sectors of our population    

As for betrayal, consider this: During the postwar decades following World War II, the federal government provided loans, subsidies, and enabling legislation to developers to build extensive tracts of housing on the outskirts of existing cities.

War veterans and families also received government loans and subsidies, enabling them to leave crowded cities for clean/green new lives in rapidly proliferating suburban developments.

Back then, the beneficiaries this new government housing policy were--with intent--almost exclusively White families.

Fast forward to 2020.  The Complete Communities proposal, with its mandates for vigorous urbanization of San Diego neighborhoods, flips the proverbial American Dream of Suburban Paradise on its head.  That's not necessarily a bad thing. 

But notice that--intentionally or not--the beneficiaries of San Diego's newest housing policy are once again almost exclusively White individuals and couples.  

Part III: Expediting the Exodus

As envisioned by the Complete Communities proposal, the overriding majority of new construction falls into two categories: 
a) high-end "luxury" apartments, and
b) micro/mini/small studio and one-bedroom units.
The proposal uses a complex formula for creating "affordable" apartment units but the numbers come nowhere close to meeting the actual housing needs of our city's population (take another look at SANDAG forecasts).

The formula also avoids the reality that dense redevelopment throughout the city clears away existing affordable housing and displaces families and individuals who now occupy them. 

And is it impolite to point out that the formula aims for an indecently scant number of family-sized housing units considered affordable to moderate/ low-income households?

Bottom line
  1. We know that the era of suburbanization intentionally left Black and Brown families in the lurch, forcing them to make their own way in neglected, decaying cities.  
  2. We know that the Mayor's proposed urbanization initiative leaves San Diego's Black and Brown families in the lurch by forcing them out of city boundaries through redevelopment and displacement while providing shamefully few opportunities to stay.  
  3. We know that the intended beneficiaries of Complete Communities are combinations of:  young, well-paid singles and couples touching down in San Diego for a few years; upper-income retirees;  vacation rental clients;   corporate sleepovers for expense-account clients; and   safe parking spots for foreign and domestic investors.
  4. We know that there's something profoundly dishonest about a scheme that builds too much of what we don't need in order to get a small fraction of what we do need.
  5. We know that the city already has the capacity to accommodate growth under existing regulations and the community planning process.  
Complete Communities should be jettisoned. Once the pandemic dust settles, once we can go eye to eye with our elected officials, that's the time for a thorough airing of fresh proposals to map an equitable future for San Diego.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

YIMBYs--newest handmaidens of the Growth Machine

Alternative facts—they're the latest rage.  Even here at home, presumably responsible voices are echoing half-truths, distortion, and misinformation about a number of big-ticket items that face San Diego.

Let’s take the subject of housing, for starters.  We all talk about the housing crisis in San Diego.   So what makes it a crisis?  

For some it's about sky-high rents.  Others say it's a matter of supply--there aren't enough houses and apartments to go around.  Still others point to the near-million it takes nowadays to buy even a little bungalow…

Do the innumerable, uncountable people living on the streets constitute a crisis?  And what about the families being pushed out of their gentrifying neighborhoods?

As for the causes of this crisis, everyone's got a different take--too many regulations? building fees? zoning restrictions? government roadblocks? parking requirements? environmental protections?

Well then, what should be done?  How about the commonsensical-sounding solution bouncing around newspaper editorials and City Hall and County meetings… planning forums and urban studies classrooms… union halls and the hallowed Chamber of Commerce... the one that says: Yes we can!  Yes we must BUILD our way out of our housing crisis!

YIMBYs (Yes In My Back Yard crusaders) on both sides of the political aisle--Democrats and Republicans alike-- have jumped on this alternative-facts bandwagon urging us to build-build-build our way out. 

The YIMBY message is paraded out by Mayor Kevin Faulconer.  By California Senator Scott Wiener.  By HUD Secretary Ben Carson.  And yes, by executive order from our very own President Donald Trump. 

Their marching orders are clear: Slash government regulations.  Reduce building restrictions.  Require greater development and density (preferably but not necessarily in transit-available, jobs-rich urban areas).  Intensify growth.  And get yourselves out of the way of the market!

YIMBYs may be new to the game but their build-build-build message is just another twist to an old script written and directed by San Diego's longtime lord and master--the Growth Machine.

The Growth Machine can be described this way: it's a broad coalition of local folk (individuals, organizations, interest groups) who share two basic traits: 1) all its members directly profit from urban growth and development; and 2) all its members tend to have an outsized influence on local political decisions.

You've met them before: our hotels, banks, convention center, newspapers, shopping centers, sports stadiums, labor unions, realtor's associations, tech companies, builders, big developers….

And they have a third thing in common: a shared philosophy about the function of the land beneath our feet.

For the Growth Machine "land" is not a social good, it's a commodity—a financial vehicle to be purchased, sold, invested in, or traded.  Who can dispute that ownership and control over land is synonymous with wealth and power?  With land valued as a commodity rather than a social good, speculation can reap huge rewards. 

Now tell me, who has the Midas touch to transform the resale value of land owned by  investors/speculators/developers into pure gold?  None other than our elected officials on the City Council and County Board of Supervisors. 

And who are the people most susceptible to pressure from lobbyists, campaign donors, unions, and business elites?  Who can turn the city itself into a well-greased Growth Machine? See above.

Think about it: when local politicians act in their official capacity to extend the city's water and sewer lines… build new roads… amend a community or general plan… upzone to higher building heights and densities… bestow tax subsidies… relax building and parking requirements… a modest piece of property can be instantly transformed into a goldmine. 

You might ask: won't increasing land values and tax revenues also be beneficial to the city by enabling our elected officials to enhance amenities and the quality of life for regular people and neighborhoods?  

Not necessarily.  The priorities of land speculators and developers involve intensifying land use to accommodate more, and then more, growth and development.   Attention to your sidewalks/storm drains/schools/parks/potholes/municipal service is buried somewhere in San Diego's decades-old backlog of unattended neighborhood infrastructure repairs and upgrades--now at a whopping $2billion deficit

Back to the subject of housing.  Regular people recognize that the housing crisis is actually an unaffordability crisis.

Most regular people know that the remedy for an unaffordability crisis is NOT denser/ high-priced/ luxury/ upper-end apartments, condominiums, and mini-mansions.  Most don't fall for the myth that higher housing densities and generous developer "incentives" will bring prices down to a reasonable level.

Most of us aren't fooled about the difference between housing "abundance" and housing "affordability."  Most intuitively understand that--in the real world--supply and demand trickle-down economic theories don’t cut it for mid/moderate/lower income residents.  Does anyone honestly believe that unleashing the power of the market will bring housing prices down?

So how can we explain the blind enthusiasm of people who brand themselves YIMBYs and declare that high density market-rate residential development is the magic bullet for ensuring that anyone who wishes to reside in our neighborhoods/ cities/ counties can have an affordable roof over their heads?

Is the seductive allure of a powerful, wily, and wealthy Growth Machine too hard to resist? 

For a clue, take a look at the organization called California YIMBY.   California YIMBY was created with a million-dollar advance from Bay Area high-tech executives as a lobbying tool for pro-development legislation in Sacramento.  Its purpose is to organize empower, and coordinate with YIMBY groups throughout the state to reduce environmental and regulatory restraints that stand in the way of high density building and growth.

The California YIMBY Victory Fund is its moneyed arm--a political action committee (PAC) that doles out generous contributions to Democratic clubs, civic associations, other political PACs, and of course to state and local politicians and candidates (local YIMBY cheerleaders Todd Gloria, Toni Atkins, and Nathan Fletcher  included).

San Diego has always competed with other cities to entice vacationers, conventioneers, and tourists to choose us over all others.  Lately, city boosters have been inviting newcomers to not only visit but to stay.  They're also ratcheting up incentives for new businesses and tech workers to come on over and relocate in San Diego.  With YIMBYs at their beck and call, the sky is the limit for the Growth Machine.

Let me state this for the record: growth is not a dirty word.  But growth--the quantity, quality, rate, impacts, losers, and beneficiaries--comes laden with enormous challenges.  There are no quick and easy answers.  That's a real fact.

The only dirty words in this debate are the alternative facts promoted by the powerful growth coalition and parroted by YIMBY acolytes.  Upzoning and slashed regulations do NOT increase affordability, reduce auto congestion, mitigate severe climate/environmental impacts, or make a dent in the plight of the homeless.   In fact, accelerated rates of growth increase these critical problems.

A real fact is that San Diego doesn't have to follow in the YIMBY footsteps.  Our city doesn't have to go the way of San Francisco or San Jose or Los Angeles.   We can choose an urban future that manages growth to meet the broadest range of human and environmental necessities.   If we want, we can start right now to remedy our housing unaffordability crisis. 

Why not:
* protect tenants from price gouging and unwarranted evictions? 
regulate international speculation and land acquisition? 
* preserve, upgrade, and promote adaptive reuse of existing affordable housing? 
put the screws on corporate landlords? 

Why not:
* encourage union-sponsored housing?
* curtail windfall profits exacted by landowners? 
* slap a luxury tax on investment dwellings? 
* initiate mixed-income public-sponsored housing?  
* lobby for a state bank and public co-ops?  

And why not:
* support bond measures focused exclusively on housing and let San Diego's hotel/tourism industry pay for an expanded convention center?