In the moments leading up to City Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry’s first State of the District address Jan. 25, University City High School teachers and employees were rapidly bringing out stacks of chairs to accommodate the standing-room-only crowd, as the almost 150 that were set out was not enough.
Bry gave her concise, 30-minute address to outline her thoughts on 2017 and priorities for 2018, and included a community-by-community recognition, an impression of her grandson, and new buzzwords to join her “safe, clean and prosperous” campaign slogan. She said her priorities for the coming year include: improving public safety, continuing progress to regulate short-term rentals, combating climate change, advocating for women’s rights, addressing homelessness, getting a fire station for UC San Diego built, and increasing jobs and housing.
Steven Gallagher, Scripps Institution of Oceanography assistant vice chancellor of Marine Science, introduced the District 1 Council member and La Jolla Shores resident. “In her first year in office (Bry) has shown a true dedication to community and a commitment to the environment,” he opened, and then spoke about SIO and Birch Aquarium and the research being done. “Council President Pro Tem understands the importance of educating young people to pursue scientific studies. … We are thankful for the continued support of education and our research that Council member Bry and the City Council have shown.”
Bry serves as chair of the Committee on Budget and Government Efficiency, and vice-chair of Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods. She began her address saying: “I want to share with you a simple and honest reflection from former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, who observed, ‘politicians campaign in poetry and govern in prose.’ Tonight, I’ll try to infuse my remarks with a little of each. First, the poetry.
“I’d like to paint a picture of the beauty, brilliance and potential of District 1 but that requires an artist. I’d like to solve the puzzle of moveing nine shape-shifting Council districts into a single harmonious creation, but that requires an engineer. And I’d like to envision a future, but that requires a dreamer. Looking out into this audience tonight, I see artists, engineers and dreamers, that and much more: teachers, scientists, students, activists, lawyers, small business owners, military veterans and medical professionals. Each of you has helped create the vibrant canvas that is District 1.”
For the prose, she stated: “Due to your collective efforts, we made significant neighborhood improvements last year.”
Bry called out each of the communities within her District, noting her favorite thing about each and the accomplishments of which she is most proud.
Of Carmel Valley, she said: “The home of my favorite bakery, the Village Mill, which makes the best challah. In Carmel Valley, we reset dangerous traffic signals to provide safer student crossing, installed stop signs, reopened the Carmel Valley Rec Center pool after repairs, and painted over graffiti with the help of Cathedral High students.”
Del Mar Mesa, she said: “is home to one of the most beautiful open spaces in San Diego: the Del Mar Mesa Preserve. We worked with the City to remove the vegetation that blocked the view of Carmel Country Road, and fixed a crucial street light at Carmel Mountain Road at Gallop Crest Court.”
In Del Mar Heights,” she added, “I love to stop at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant, Le Bambou, after canvassing the steep hills of Del Mar Heights. We secured the installation of several ‘Stop Ahead’ signs to improve pedestrian safety near Del Mar Hills School, and upgraded traffic-related school signs in new continental crosswalks.”
Bry promised to continue the community-level dialogue and outreach for the rest of her Council tenure.
Regarding citywide issues, she discussed her opposition to the Mayor’s plan for a special election to decide a convention center expansion plan and the proposed SoccerCity initiative for the Mission Valley land on which Qualcomm Stadium sits, and her preference for the proposed SDSU West Initiative.
“Going forward into this New Year, we will continue our effort to keep San Diego safe, clean and prosperous. And I’m adding three new watch-words to guide our 2018 endeavors: imaginative, innovative and inclusive,” Bry said. “These watch-words are not clichés, they are imperatives. In the midst of future unknowns, such as last year’s fires, floods, Hepatitis A outbreak and other tragedies, being imaginative, innovative and inclusive will help us craft lasting solutions. There are major initiatives for this New Year that I will pursue with my usual relentlessness.”
The first of her prioritized initiatives, she said, is public safety. “As vice-chair of Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods, I want to focus this year’s agenda on recruiting new officers and keeping our current SDPD officers right here in San Diego.”
She also said she was committed to “maintaining the progress we’ve made on short-term rentals. We were one vote short of passing reasonable regulations, but what’s important is, we were able to block unfettered proliferation of these mini-hotels.”
To combat climate change locally, she said she would move forward with a Community Choice Energy program, which she said would “allow the City to establish a separate non-profit organization that could invest in local sources of renewable energy and provide rate payers with clean energy options at lower cost. SDG&E would be a partner in this, and would be paid to maintain the grid and bill customers.” She also promised a Council resolution to oppose the new federal plan to permit oil drilling off the San Diego coast.
In light of the #TimesUp and # MeToo movements, Bry said she will use her position as a council member to work with local professionals to discuss sexual harassment in the public and private sector.
She said she supports San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer in prioritizing homelessness solutions, and would participate in the Jan. 26 homelessness count, and would work with the Mayor to build new housing units, especially along transit corridors.
She concluded her list of priorities by stressing the importance of jobs, particularly in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). “With a $55 billion economic impact, the innovation makes up one-fourth of San Diego’s overall GDP … and the UTC area is the No. 1 employment center in the region,” she said, adding she would meet with employers to encourage them to create jobs and internship opportunities.
Ready to introduce her staff and make closing remarks, Bry teased: “If my three-year-old grandson Colton were here tonight, he would say, ‘G-Ma, are you almost done? You’ve been talking a long time!’”
She ended her State of the District presentation with: “Imagine it, just imagine it, a whole new year filled with innovative, imaginative and inclusive projects. I can imagine that, will you imagine that with me? Together we can do it. We must do all we can, when we can, where we can and for everyone we can.”
— Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry represents San Diego City Council District 1, which includes the communities of Carmel Valley, Del Mar Heights, Del Mar Mesa, La Jolla, Pacific Highlands Ranch, Torrey Hills, Torrey Pines and University City. She can be reached at (619) 236-6611 and firstname.lastname@example.org