CLEAN WATER AND CLEAN BEACHES
Imperial Beach has been closed a total of three years of the last ten. Hundreds of IB residents have fallen sick, our children can’t play in the water, and our local economy suffers because of beach closures. I find this unacceptable. As a councilwoman, I’ll continue to work with state agencies across the border to improve their wastewater infrastructure, replace the completely outdated Punta Bandera sewage treatment plant, and fix once and for all the PB-CILA pump station in order to stop beach closures in Imperial Beach. My bilingual and bicultural experience give me the ability to work across the border.
I am also in favor of the City of Imperial Beach’s lawsuit. As someone who’s been advocating to the International Boundary and Water Commission to take action for years by sending in dozens of letters, emails, and in-person requests to the commission to remediate cross-border pollution with no response, I applaud the city for having the courage to take legal action against them. In addition to supporting the litigation, my strategy is two-prong: I’m taking the fight across the border at the source, and I’m going to keep fighting here in the US for regional, state and, especially, federal funding.
We need to attack the problem at the source, in Tijuana, to reduce trash and sewage from washing across the border and polluting our beaches. We need to keep working with the City of Tijuana to ban single-use plastics and foam, and implement the long-needed comprehensive recycling program the city needs in order to reduce the hundreds of thousands of pounds of plastics from impacting our beaches. Much like the recent plastic bag ban I helped pass by working with Tijuana officials this year. Tijuana’s sewage infrastructure is in dire need of repair. The State of Baja California needs to be proactive in seeking federal funding to fix the failing Punta Bandera, the pseudo-treatment plant that discharges over 40 million gallons of raw sewage per day into the ocean, impacting our water quality and stop the illegal dumping at the river’s tributaries sickening our Navy Seals, families, and Border Patrol. I’ll work with Mexican federal representatives to make sure they pressure the State of Baja to do their job.
Sixty eight percent of Imperial Beach households are renters. More than half of those renters are considered overburdened. I will fight to make sure we pass ordinances that will help lessen the burden on renters while still ensuring we continue to develop our city in a sustainable way. We can’t control the real estate market. But what we can do is find innovative ways to address housing affordability in Imperial Beach. My plan is multi-prong. First, we need to incentivize new development projects to have a percentage of affordable housing units. Second, we need to ensure the long term rental-unit supply is not constricted by non-compliant short term rentals. Every illegal short term rental reduces the supply of permanent residences which, in turn, drives prices up. Third, we need to make sure that absentee landlords with dilapidated multi-family buildings are present, maintain their properties to code, and do not overcharge renters above their fair market value. Fourth, we should streamline the permitting process for accessory units for those who want to build in zones that are allowed to have one, in order to incentivize adding units to the supply chain. And finally, we should revisit city ordinances and ensure renters are protected and not gouged. That is something we can all stand behind.
SHORT TERM RENTALS
SAFE AND HEALTHY NEIGHBORHOODS FOR ALL
My priority is to make sure families, children and seniors can walk or bike our beautiful city, ensuring we have safe crosswalks, sufficient lighting and clean streets. Providing great quality of life for all IB residents is one of my top priorities. We need to increase crosswalks, especially east of 13th street and north of Palm Ave. I am committed to improving street lighting, especially for streets with limited-to-no lights such as Florence and 8th. We also need more facilities at parks and more parks in the eastern part of the city. Families should be able to bring their kids out to play and have the piece of mind that they can spend quality time outdoors without fear of being hit by a car.
I also support bringing back a morning traffic deputy, so we can have speed enforcement during the morning rush-hour. We need to make sure children can safely walk to school without the fear of being hit by a speeding car or distracted driver.
I think we should enforce existing code for short term rentals in Imperial Beach. Short term rentals contribute revenue to the city but only if they are properly taxed. In order to do this, we need enough city code enforcers. I think we need to hire more staff to properly enforce short term rental code in our city. We have a housing crisis in Imperial Beach. We need to do something about it. Research has shown that short term rentals constrict rental-unit supply, causing demand to increase and therefore rent prices to rise. It is a basic economic principle. The more short term rentals there are, the higher the cost of rent will be in Imperial Beach. Which is why I want to revisit the amount of short term rental units that are currently allowed in our city. A paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that corporations like Airbnb lead to increases in rent, especially in smaller towns. More than 50% of Imperial Beach households are renters, and 68% of them are overburdened. This means that more of their monthly income goes to pay rent. This is unacceptable. That is why housing affordability is one my top priorities. During my campaign, I have knocked on countless doors of people’s homes where entire families are suffering because their rents are now too high. I have spoken to so many people who have lived here their entire lives and are now being forced to move out of town. We need to take action. I will fight to make sure we address this crisis and find successful strategies to lessen the burden on IB renter households. Revisiting the number of short term rentals allowed in IB is a starting point. I don’t want to restrict the freedom of homeowners, but rather look at all the different alternatives to make sure local homeowners who’d like to rent their homes as short term rentals can continue to do so in a way that benefits all while preventing big corporations from swooping into town, and buying units in bulk just to list them on Airbnb. We are a small town beach community. We need to make sure we protect our own and not the interests of big corporations who see Imperial Beach as an opportunity and not as the community we are.
TRAFFIC & NEW NAVY CAMPUS
I believe the Navy should fulfill its promise of synchronizing the stoplights on Palm in order to improve the flow of traffic, especially during rush hour. Additionally, I think we need to work with MTS to increase the frequency of bus services to encourage residents to commute through public transportation. I think one of the major reasons people who have the option to use public transportation, choose not to because it adds a significant amount of time to their commute. I would also propose creating a free service route exclusively for IB. I would work to acquire an electric bus that could offer a hop-on/hop-off option for people to navigate our city without having to drive. This service would decrease congestion for those making a short commute to the store or or to the beach, assist people who have limited or fixed income, seniors who might not have the option to drive any more, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are so detrimental to our health and our environment.
VISION FOR HIGHWAY 75
My vision for Highway 75 is to help foster a small-business district where people con shop, dine, and find entertainment. Most of that corridor is designated as mixed-use and we could have an array of new restaurants, clothing stores, music venues, coffee shops, a youth center, and perhaps even our first Imperial Beach Surf Museum! I envision an area that is walkable and bike-able where folks can have an alternative to the beach area; where we could host art, business, and food expos showcasing the best of IB. With the new affordable hotel at Breakwater, this will also serve as an attraction for tourists and bring in more revenue to our city. My goal is to bring a free electrical bus-service on which people can hop on and off should they decide to roam around town. But in order for us to have this, we must first ensure that the Navy fulfills their commitment of synchronizing the street lights so that we can have a healthy flow of traffic. We also need to make sure the area has designated crosswalks, so people can walk or bike there in a safe way, and ample parking to alleviate congestion.
I also think a major issue we need to address is the eastern part of Palm Ave. Unfortunately, this falls under City of San Diego Mayor Faulconer’s jurisdiction. The trash-clogged storm drains, the blight along the side streets, and the poor management of resources designated to address homelessness, speak volumes to the City of San Diego’s view of Imperial Beach. The fact that they have not joined in our fight for clean water and how they’ve allowed city resources to be used outside of the communities they are designated for-taking them away from cleaning up their part of Palm Ave-shows a lack of good will toward their sister city-Imperial Beach. This must be addressed. Unlike some of the other candidates, I have no reservations in standing up to the Mayor of San Diego, fighting for what’s right for IB, and demanding they clean up their portion of Palm Ave.