Jim Bell on Local Issues

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Quality of Life – Paradise on the Decline

 

San Diego's climate provides for paradise – but badly managed growth is dragging us down. 

Increased traffic, beach closures, sewage spills – all of these are signs of badly managed growth.

We’ve watched our quality of life decline due to persistent pandering to special interests that allows project proponents to get out of paying their fair share for infrastructure and its maintenance.  It has also lead to the diversion of City resources to other, often questionable, priorities.  This leaves residents, taxpayers, and the environment, to absorb the impacts.

The only way to maintain and improve our quality of life is to elect honest, knowlegable, independent candidates who will stand up for the common good.

 

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Traffic and Mobility

Traffic is a big problem.  Basically, traffic happens when projects are allowed to go in without proper design and without paying their share of regional traffic costs.

The only way to maintain – or even reduce traffic – in the face of urban growth pressures – is to:

  • ask projects to pay their fair share of regional traffic impacts, and
  • redesign projects so that the number of car-trips is reduced.

    In addition to accommodating cars, all development and redevelopment must be designed with pedestrians and human-powered vehicles in mind.

Redevelopment must also help communities become more balanced between jobs, housing, and amenities like shopping, recreation, education, and entertainment.

Making communities more walkable and amenities balanced will help reduce car-trips and provide more safe, healthy, fun, and stimulating walking, biking, skating, etc. opportunities.

Balanced communities are also more secure because there are “more eyes on the streets.”  Balanced communities also give us the opportunity to greatly improve mass transit.  In balanced communities, fewer trips are needed into and out of the area.  For region wide transit, each community would have a transportation hub with express runs between hubs. 

The express system Jim Bell has been impressed with uses “flex trollies.”  Flex-trolleys have the convenience features of a train, with the lower costs and increased flexibility of buses.

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Stand Up to Special Interests

 

The only way to maintain – or even improve – quality of life in the face of urban growth pressures is to elect honest, independent candidates who will stand up for what’s right for the common good.

 

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Strengthen Our Economy

I’ve identified $20 billion that is currently exported out of our regional economy each year that could be retained here for business and job creation by developing our local renewable energy, water and agricultural resources.  Besides making our region more energy, water and food secure, this $20 billion yearly of locally created wealth would increase regional economic activity across the board.

Just one example:  if we had been energy self-sufficient during the recent energy crisis, we would have been unaffected by it. 

In lectures, articles, as a public-advocate, and professionally, I’ve advocated for maximizing regional energy, water and food independence for 28 years.  Here’s what I said about that on December 10, 2001:

To the degree we control our energy, water and agricultural future, is the degree we can sustain our economy and way of life – whatever the winds of the world blow our way.

I estimate that the City of San Diego could save taxpayers $50 million a year just by implementing cost-effective energy and water-use efficiency measures in city-owned facilities. 

As I said on New Years Day of 2002:

We don’t need more taxes.  We need the taxes we pay used more intelligently.

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Increase Local Security

We can keep crime “on the run” by increasing local employment opportunities created by becoming more energy, water and food self-sufficient, and by working closely with law enforcement and community groups to keep neighborhoods safe.

We can make our city and region less vulnerable to the cut off or price manipulation of energy, water or food supplies.

Currently, San Diego imports 98 percent of its energy and up to 90 percent of its water and food.  These features make San Diego more vulnerable than most regions to service interruptions.

We can make these systems more resilient by decreasing their centralized nature and moving to more robust regional and local networks.

By developing local resources that create local jobs and keep our dollars circulating in the San Diego region, we’ll increase our local security and independence – and the ability to respond in emergencies.

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Clean Up Our Environment – Shift Toward Prevention

The only real solution to pollution is to develop ways to “get the job done” without creating pollution.

Short of that, pollution – water, air, land or noise – must be neutralized at its source.  It’s always less expensive to avoid creating pollution at its source than to use precious tax revenues to deal with it after it’s been released into the environment.

I urge San Diego to take a leadership role in providing technical expertise and funding to help local business, industry and agriculture develop non–polluting and sustainable methods of operation.  For the most part, these methods have already been developed.

I will continue to work to have San Diego expand its public education on how common practices and products pollute our environment and how alternative practices and products can be used to achieve the same goals with out causing problems.

Prevention is always better – for taxpayers and the environment – than trying to clean up pollution after it’s been released into the environment.

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Tapping Our Region’s Human Potential

 

We have some of the brightest and most knowledgeable people in the world living in our region.  We have excellent colleges and universities.  Our youth are exceptionally intelligent.  Our scientists, engineers, and artists are gifted.  Our business savvy is world class.

My plan for our region is to mobilize these resources to help business and industry succeed in ways that enhance, rather than compromise, both public health and the health of our planet’s life support system.

 

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What I Would Do If I Were In Office

Fundamental issues are those that can greatly increase or decrease our chances for success and fulfillment, now and for future generations, both for individuals and for the San Diego/Tijuana region as a whole.

Important issues are issues that need to be addressed, whenever this can be done without taking resources away from Fundamental issues.

Fundamental Issues

Energy, Water, and
Food Self-Sufficiency

As your Mayor, my primary goal will be to make our city and region energy, water and food self-sufficient as soon as possible.

Why?

Because whatever other problems we have, they will surely get worse if there is any serious disruption in the supply or increase in the price of the energy, water and food we now import.

Our situation is that we are 5 to 6 million people living in the San Diego/Tijuana region, sustaining ourselves by importing 98 percent of our energy and 90 percent of our water and food.

Clearly, this is not a secure position to be in, given the craziness of today’s world.

In addition, becoming energy, water and food self-sufficient will greatly strengthen our local economy because of the new jobs and business opportunities it will create.  If we were energy, water and food self-sufficient today, the $20 billion a year we now “export” to pay for imported energy, water and food, would be circulating locally, stimulating business and job creation on all fronts, increasing everyone’s bottom line.

Additionally, the skills we learn in the process of becoming self-sufficient will position us to take world leadership in a new essential industry – the industry of helping regions and nations around the world become energy, water and food self-sufficient and to help them develop sustainable economies in general.

Eliminate
Obvious Terrorist Targets

Currently we have a number of attractive terrorist targets in our region.  Some of these targets could also be set off by accidents and by natural phenomena like earthquakes and severe weather.

If any one of these targets were successfully attacked or unleashed by an accident, earthquake, etc., the consequences to our city and region would be catastrophic.

I won’t talk specifics because I don’t want to give anyone ideas.  But as Mayor of San Diego, I will do everything within my power to identify such targets and eliminate the threat they pose.

Land Use Planning

Life support sustaining land use planning is essential to creating a sustainable economy and way of life in our region.  This given, I will implement a land use plan that will:

  • Protect and strengthen watershed and habitat health.  When watershed and their habitats are healthy, they reduce erosion and flooding and maximize groundwater recharge.
  • Protect our best agricultural soils from development and other misuses.  World and local population is still increasing, and the acreages and fertility of our agricultural soils, locally and world wide, are declining.  Protecting our local agricultural soils for farming is our insurance policy for food security if imported food becomes too costly or if supplies are restricted or cut off.
  • Create developable land certainty.  We need development, and plenty of it, but not in floodplains, essential wildlife habitats or on our best agricultural soils.  I’ll also create development standards to ensure that development methods and materials used in our city and region are benign with respect to our health and the environment.

In one important way we are lucky.  San Diego County has some of the most skilled and intelligent developers in the world.  With good leadership, they can build the sustainable economy we and our descendants need.

Fundamental to living sustainably on our planet is how we use – and choose not to use – our land.  If we choose well, our future and the future of our descendants will be bright indeed.  If we choose poorly, sadness, suffering and regret will follow.

Work with Educators

We need to teach ourselves and each other, how our planet’s life-support system works and how we can do the things we need and want to do in ways that protect human and life-support system health.  Education is the key.  If we don’t know how our planet’s life-support system works, how can we use its productive potential sustainably?

Very Important Issues

Recycle Sewage

My goal here is to develop a new sewage system that keeps sewage free of toxic materials and converts it into irrigation water and soil nutrients so that no sewage ever gets into our waterways, bays, or ocean, and that recovers sewage-born nutrients which we can use to replenish our soils.

I’ll also continue the remedial work on our present sewage system as needed to minimize water pollution while a new system is developed.

Balanced Community Design

As Mayor, I will set in motion a process to help every community evolve to have an optimal balance between places for people to live, work and shop, with plenty of entertainment and recreation venues and other amenities. 

The more the things we need and want that are available in our own neighborhoods, the less we will be compelled to drive or transport ourselves long distances to get them. 

“Balanced Communities” save time, energy, stress, and money, and they reduce pollution.  They also improve neighborhood cooperation and strengthen local economies, and thus they reduce crime.

Wildfire Protection

Wildfire in our region is inevitable, but its negative impact on us can be greatly reduced with good planning and design.  Here are some things we can do to decrease our vulnerability:

  • Develop codes to insure that all new construction is designed and built to be as resistant to fire as possible. 
  • Create a cost-effective fire resistance upgrade program to make existing buildings harder to burn and to educate people about how to:
    • make where they live and work less flammable, and
    • how to select construction materials that do not produce toxic gases if subjected to fire or extreme heat.
  • Increase firefighter training and pay.  We have to recognize that fighting fires is stressful and dangerous.  I want our firefighters to be skilled professionals, and I’ll provide funding for training and for more pay for firefighters in general.
  • Develop a harvesting regimen to thin overgrown brush in ways that are habitat sustaining and that do not cause erosion.  Harvesting overgrown brush will reduce the danger of wildfires, and the harvested brush can serve as a renewable resource for producing electricity and liquid fuels.  It can also be made into manufactured wood products, including chipboard and other laminates.

Recycling

  • Institute a public education process to enable people to know:
    • what is and is not recyclable,
    • how to recycle the recyclables that they no longer want, and
    • how to reduce the amount of non-recyclable waste that they generate.
  • Develop a “True Cost Pricing” policy requiring manufacturers who sell products in our region to pay the cost of recycling their difficult-to-recycle containers and product residues.  If manufacturers don’t pay these costs, they fall on the general public, in that tax revenues must be used to create and maintain landfills and to cover personal and environmental health costs.  Most importantly, “True Cost Pricing” will give product developers a strong incentive to make their products and containers easy to recycle.
  • Do everything possible to minimize things coming into our region that are not easily recycled or are in packaging and/or containers that cannot be easily recycled.

Reduce Population Growth
In Our Region

As your mayor, I will launch a population issues education program to highlight the economic, social and environmental advantages of having smaller families. 

Two thirds of our county’s projected population growth will come from children born here.  If enough parents choose to have only 1 or 2 children, there would be no population growth from new births in San Diego County.

I will also do everything possible to improve the economies in the countries from which most of our economic immigrants come.  This can be done through trade partnerships and technical assistance.  If people can make a decent living in their home country, they will be less compelled to come here looking for work.

Immigration-related population increases are mostly an economic problem.  If U.S. workers could make 10 times as much in Mexico for the same work, we’d be crossing the border to work there.

Reduce Crime

Becoming energy, water and food self-sufficient will greatly increase business and job opportunities, which will mean less crime.

But if some people cannot refrain from hurting others or stealing from them, I’ll work with community groups and law enforcement leaders to get them off the streets.

I’ll also work to improve police officer training in community relations, especially as it relates to youth, sexism, racism, homophobia, and the mentally disturbed.

I’m also open to increasing police pay and reducing work hours per week.  We have to recognize that police work is dangerous and stressful.  If we expect out police to be skilled professionals, we must pay them and treat them accordingly.

Help Local Industry,
Business, and Agriculture

As Mayor, I will help local business, industry, and agriculture succeed in ways that are non-polluting.  This help will come in the form of technical assistance, grants, and low-interest loans to help local enterprises develop profitable, non-polluting and sustainable methods of operation.

Discrimination

As your mayor, I’ll fight discrimination in all its forms and on all fronts.  Prejudice is learned.  Children are not born with it.  Prejudice hurts everyone, including its perpetrators.

Flouridation

I’m 1,000 percent against fluoridation of our common water supply.

Why?  Because I don’t want to be medicated against my will no matter how good someone else claims it will be for me or anyone else.  As a free adult, it is my right to make such medical decisions for myself and my family, not some stranger who knows nothing about my health or my family’s health.

While I don’t claim to be an expert in this area, I’ve taken a good look at it, and I’m convinced that adding fluoride to our common water supply will be harmful, especially to fetuses and young children.  And even if fluoride proves to have some dental benefit, which I now doubt, there are much more effective ways to get it into one’s teeth than drinking it in our water.

Clean Up and
Eliminate Trash

While recycling will go a long way toward cleaning up trash, we need to educate people about what trash costs them in tax dollars and in their quality of life.  When we throw trash on the ground we eat up tax dollars that could be used for more beneficial purposes.

Fix Roads

As your Mayor, I’ll maintain existing roads and develop more durable and non-polluting road technologies.  The Roman Empire built roads that are still in use today.  I believe that we can do even better.

Parks

Maintain, improve, and expand city parks, and clean up toxic waste dumps around Mission Bay Park and any other park or public place where toxic waste is a hazard.

Currently, Mission Bay Park generates around $17 million each year, but only $3 to $4 million is spent to maintain the park.  I favor spending all the money generated by Mission Bay Park on park maintenance and upgrades, including protecting the bay from pollution until the park’s unmet needs are satisfied.  Once these needs are satisfied, I support using income generated by Mission Bay Park, above what the park needs, to support our city park system in general.

Additionally, I will create a City Parks Reserve Fund to cover park emergencies and to acquire other park lands and wildlife habitats as they become available.

Pollution

If implemented with a little intelligence, becoming energy, water and food self-sufficient will reduce local pollution by 75 percent.

Educational programs to teach us how our planet’s life support system works and how we can use that knowledge to create a prosperous and humane future will eliminate pollution altogether.  Ultimately, pollution is just a resource in the wrong place.

Airport:
Thinking Outside the Box

Although I want to remain open to all views on the airport issue before making up my mind, my preference now is to build a floating airport 5 miles offshore.  Passengers would get to and from the airport from the mainland in 5 minutes on high-speed catamarans.  Once the floating airport became operational, Lindbergh Field would be closed.

I’ve researched the floating airport option, and I’m impressed with the technology developed by Float Inc., a San Diego company, and their testing data.  I haven’t completed a rigorous analysis on the project’s cost, but I believe a floating airport could be largely, if not completely, paid for by the increased property and sales tax revenues that would result if the land now occupied by Lindbergh field were developed.

Additional revenues would be generated from increased property values that would result from eliminating the noise pollution caused by planes taking off and landing at Lindbergh Field.  Additionally, a floating airport will generate more income than Lindbergh Field because planes would be able to land and take off over water, 5 miles out, 24/7, without disturbing anyone’s sleep or tranquility.

Contrast this possibility with the current situation at Lindbergh Field, which because of noise pollution issues, is shut down one third of the time.

Sports

Although not essential like energy, water, and food security, sports are very popular in our city and region.

Even so, there are many people, sports fans and non-fans alike, who are bitter about the tax give-away deals our City has made with our major sports team owners.

As your mayor, I’ll do everything possible to eliminate such give-aways.  In our free-market economy, professional sports, like any other business, should be supported by the people who enjoy sports, not by taxpayers at large.

As an athlete who lettered in three sports in high school and played basketball at Palomar College and at Long Beach State University, now the California State University Long Beach (CSULB), I know the love of sports.

To satisfy our sports appetite, I propose the creation of a major Pro-Am sports complex with complete professional football, basketball, soccer, hockey, tennis, and other sports facilities, and their parallel amateur counterparts. 

My first choice for this sports complex is the triangle of land south of the Miramar Naval Training Center bounded by 805 and 163.  This site has excellent transportation access and is not in a floodplain, not on prime agricultural soils, not blocking groundwater recharge, not on land subject to liquefaction, and not on or dividing riparian habitats.

How do we pay it? By becoming energy, water and food self-sufficient. That will generate all the funds we need, not only for a comprehensive sports center, but a lot more besides.

The Arts

Historically, consciously or unconsciously, the artist has served as a kind of beacon for the rest of humanity, pointing out new things or new ways of seeing the familiar.  The artist has also played the role of a heightened sensory receptor for society at large, sensing some threat, challenge, or opportunity as yet unrecognized by the rest of us, then using art to bring it to our attention.  Today the artist has a new challenge – to imagine an ecologically sustainable future and use art to create that future.  As an artist/designer, I am of this camp, and I encourage all artists to join in.

Perhaps more than ever before, artists have the power to transform the world into a kinder, more helpful, happy, and life-support-sustaining place for ourselves, our children and future generations.

Increasing Our Benefit
From Tourism

The more our region becomes energy, water and food self-sufficient, the more we will benefit from the dollars tourists spend here. 

Today, almost all the money that tourists spend here on energy, water, and food, leaves our local economy because all three things are imported.  If they were produced locally, the money spent on them by tourists would go into the pockets of local businesses and their employees.  Since most of the people earning this money would live locally, most of what they earned would be spent locally, helping everyone’s bottom line.

Public Land

I’m 1,000 percent against selling public land.  Public land can be leased, long term, for appropriate uses, but it should never be sold.  When we sell it, we get a one time payment.  When we lease it, it generates public income forever.

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Conclusion

I’ve done a lot of thinking on how to make San Diego and the San Diego/Tijuana region more secure and prosperous.  But accomplishing this goal is not about my ideas or any one else’s.  It’s about the best ideas.  If there are better ideas out there than the one’s I’m bringing to the table, I’ll be the first to sign up.

But the ideas I’m presenting are doable starting today, and they will improve our economy and security.  Better ideas can be incorporated along the way.

So let’s get started, before the opportunity to achieve security and sustainability fades away into chaos and calamity.

Ultimately, the future is all we have.  Let’s work together to make the most of it.

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Peace & Love,

Jim Bell