San Diego’s FY2020 budget includes historic funding for language justice and parks in overburdened communities but fails to prioritize transportation justice or provide protections for renters and workers
SAN DIEGO: The Community Budget Alliance (CBA) has accomplished two major historic wins, but the City still needs to do more to protect low income working families. As a result of two years of advocacy by the CBA, in FY2020, the City of San Diego will provide translation services at Community Planning Group meetings. Emerald Hills Park, one of the few outdoor public spaces in Southeast San Diego, will finally see renovations after 20 years of calls from the community.
In a richly diverse border city like San Diego, language justice is critical to democracy. Over 30 languages are spoken in the City of San Diego and 1 of every 7 people in the city do not speak English well. Providing translation services at community planning group meetings leads to community-oriented infrastructure planning.
Esperanza Miranda, a Promotora for the Environmental Health Coalition, a CBA member organization and leading voice in the call for language justice, has organized in City Heights for over 10 years without translation support.
“It is unjust that I am unable to understand the conversations during planning group meetings in my own community,” noted Esperanza. “Translation services at the City Heights Area Planning Committee (CHAPC) meetings will allow me to have meaningful participation in discussing critical issues affecting our community.”
The FY2020 budget also includes funding to amend the General Development Plan for Emerald Hills Park. Emerald Hills Park was built over 50 years ago, and has had no significant upgrades since then. Community members will finally have the opportunity to tell the City what upgrades and changes they want to see in the park.
“Emerald Hills is a diverse community and we have an opportunity to create a park that reflects our community. This is about more than a park, it’s about us leading the vision for our community,” said Evelyn Smith, president of the Emerald Hills Town Council.
Community Budget Alliance advocacy also led to funding for:
- A disparity study on all city contracts
- A Mobility Action Plan, which will serve as a guide for the planning and prioritization of future projects related to walking, biking and public transit
- More code enforcement officers to fight substandard housing
These are historic wins, but they are not enough.
Transportation continues to be the single largest emitter of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in San Diego. The city currently lacks the capacity to achieve its Climate Action Plan goals, yet the FY2020 budget will not include funding for a Transportation Justice Coordinator in the city’s Sustainability Department. Environmental justice communities bear disproportionate burdens of toxic pollution, face lack of transportation connectivity, and do not have access to safe pedestrian infrastructure. We urge the City Council to prioritize increasing staff capacity to address these conditions and align their efforts with regional transit developments.
The CBA continues to advocate for a Tenants Right to Counsel Program to prevent homelessness, and fight the mass displacement of residents of color.
“Without Tenants Right to Counsel unscrupulous landlords will bring units up to code but then unfairly evict the tenants. Having legal representation can mean the difference between people staying in their homes and being forced out to the streets,” said Miriam Melendez, an organizer for ACCE (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment), an organization leading statewide efforts to protect tenants and fight rising housing costs.
At the same time that high housing costs are pushing low-income families out of San Diego, greedy employers are stealing wages from our most vulnerable workers. Employers steal $2 billion dollars from California workers every year just by failing to pay the minimum wage. It is up to the Mayor and City Council to protect workers and renters and ensure that all families have the means to stay in this city. The CBA will continue its ongoing fight for an Office of Labor Standards Enforcement to proactively protect workers facing wage theft and retaliation. During this budget cycle the mayor has again failed to prioritize protections for the most impacted communities.
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