By Joe Tash
If he is elected mayor of San Diego, David Alvarez said he will listen to neighborhood residents, “and their concerns will be addressed.”
In an interview with this newspaper, the mayoral candidate and San Diego City Councilman was asked about the One Paseo project, a controversial mixed-use development proposed for the corner of Del Mar Heights Road and El Camino Real in Carmel Valley.
The latest version of the project would consist of 1.4 million square feet of buildings, including offices, retail shops and 608 residential units. Some neighbors oppose the project out of concerns that it will exacerbate traffic congestion on surrounding roads. The Carmel Valley Community Planning Group is expected to consider the project soon, and it will ultimately go before the San Diego City Council for approval.
Alvarez did not take a position on the project, but said, “My record reflects the needs of the community, and those who live in the community, and what they express is very important to me.” Alvarez charged that his opponent, Kevin Faulconer, is more likely to side with developers.
Alvarez, 33, was elected to the City Council in 2010. He grew up in San Diego’s Barrio Logan neighborhood, where he lives today. Alvarez and Faulconer, also a San Diego councilman, are running to complete the term of former Mayor Bob Filner, who resigned in August amid a sexual harassment scandal.
In a November mayoral primary, Faulconer, a Republican, finished first, with 42 percent, followed by Alvarez, with 27 percent, in a field of 11 candidates. Three prominent Democrats — Alvarez, Nathan Fletcher and Mike Aguirre — were represented on the ballot.
Although registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 39 to 26 percent in San Diego (28 percent of voters list no party preference), Faulconer enjoys a sizeable fundraising advantage based on year-end campaign filings, having taken in $1.4 million compared to Alvarez’s $524,000 in 2013.
Alvarez said he has more campaign volunteers on the ground, which he believes will make the difference in the election.
“I’ve never had a lot of money, but I’ve had a lot of people who believe in me and my vision for the city,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez listed five priorities if elected mayor: reinvesting in neighborhoods parks, libraries and public safety; improving infrastructure, such as roads and bridges; establishing reliable sources of water, including the use of treated wastewater for both drinking and landscaping; providing open and transparent government; and creating a climate action plan, that would reduce greenhouse gases and allow residents to purchase electricity from renewable sources.
Alvarez insisted he is ready to take on the challenge of running the city of San Diego, a government agency with a $2.8 billion annual budget and more than 7,000 employees, in spite of only having served one term on the City Council.
He said he began his career in public service at 18, as an educator, neighborhood activist and youth minister. Before being elected to the City Council, he served as a district aid to state Sen. Denise Ducheny.