I don’t know what the specific ratio of placating-the-masses to completely-out-of-ideas might be, but San Diego’s city government is asking for ideas. The big one is Mayor Sanders soliciting lightning bolts on budget cuts. I’m kinda terrified to imagine what this might elicit, but maybe there’ll be a few gems. At the very least, it’s a nice shift from his consistent (if often unsuccessful) fits of dictatorial governance.
With San Diego’s budget future linked to woes at the state level, negotiations beginning with HUD over millions in mismanaged funds which may need to be repayed, and major concerns over access to food stamps, it’s probably not a bad time to see if anyone happens to be particularly inspired.
At the same time, a charrette (pdf) is kicking off soliciting bright ideas for community redevelopment, specifically the Grantville area. SD Business Journal explains that the neighborhood “is undergoing a Master Plan transformation that could prove a blueprint for the greater redevelopment of our neighborhoods throughout the city.”
There’s lots of talk about “stakeholders” and communities investing in their own futures, which is a good start. And with the San Diego Democratic Party bouncing back fast from rock bottom in the June primary to strengthen its hold on the city council, hopefully this is the beginning of legitimate dialogue with the community. The November election brought a consumer advocate reporter (Marti Emerald), a long-time community volunteer (Sherri Lightner), and a Housing Commissioner and District Director (Todd Gloria) to the board. Three people who are, at the very least, used to soliciting opinions and perspectives from the broader community as an essential function of their professional lives. It’s a valuable shift in mentality that the Mayor seems to also be picking up on, even if it’s also a reflection of how few good answers seem to be forthcoming these days.
We’ll have to wait a while for the payoff. In the meantime, a little more openness is a decent place from which to start.
Update I should add that Mayor Sanders has taken the request for ideas to twitter. It isn’t exactly Debra Bowen, but it’s a lot better than many politician accounts. At least he’s stepping outside the tubes and into the ether.