San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria outlined what he calls his "back-to-basics" approach Wednesday during his inaugural State of the City address.
Gloria addressed a range of topics including the city's $150 million budget shortfall brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, police-community relations, and the city's climate action plan.
“Honestly, the state of our city is fragile right now, but I have faith it won’t be for much longer,” Mayor Gloria said. “At our core, our city is strong because San Diegans are strong.”
Gloria, the city's first mayor of color and first mayor among the LGBTQ community, said he inherited a $150 million-plus budget deficit, mostly caused tax revenue losses from the city's biggest industries like tourism and entertainment.
He is expected to present a balanced budget to the City Council soon, and has already asked the council to recommend budget cuts that will minimize impacts on core city services.
Gloria mentioned several city infrastructure projects that have his focus, like his "5 Big Moves" regional transportation network blueprint, a citywide data-driven policy for fixing streets, and planned pedestrian-friendly corridors along 5th Avenue and Normal Street.
California is in the early stages of rolling out COVID-19 vaccines, and it won't be enough to slow San Diego County's prolonged coronavirus case surge that has sent state hospitals into crisis mode.
After thanking health care workers and applauding them for doing "so much to protect lives under unimaginable circumstances," Gloria asked San Diegans to honor their sacrifices by avoiding gatherings and staying home as much as possible.
Gloria said more vaccination "super stations" like the one near Petco Park will open in time, especially when vaccines become more widely available. Training is underway for some San Diego Fire-Rescue Department firefighters who will be able to administer vaccines, Gloria said.
Wednesday's address was given virtually from an empty library in San Ysidro, one of the communities hit hardest by COVID-19.
Gloria spent a good portion of his address highlight what he alleged were missteps by the previous administration while trying to combat the homelessness crisis.
He said his administration will make mental health clinicians the first point of contact for people experiencing homelessness, not law enforcement.
"We have to not only help people get off the streets. but stay off the streets," Gloria said. "No longer will San Diego be a place that buys indoor skydiving facilities and claim it will solve our crisis."
Political analyst Gil Cabrera said Gloria's address offered a change in tone.
"[Mayor Gloria] was very straightforward about, 'Look we're going to get these things done and we're going to do it deliberately, approach it deliberately,' and that's a different way than administrations have approached it in the past," Cabrera said.
Gloria announced an extension to the eviction moratorium and said he is working with the city council to expand similar relief to small businesses.