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The Voice of San Diego Podcast

VOSD’s Friday roundup of the past week’s news in brief, featuring interviews with special guests and more.

Jan 21, 2018

Something's going on with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. He had that whole "different approach" in his big State of the City Speech last week.

And Friday, he visited the Voice of San Diego podcast studio to record a special interview. Here it is.

In his words, this is what's happening:

"Look consensus is important, results are more important. I am choosing results over consensus," he said.

We got as much in as we could from him on everything from homelessness, to the Convention Center expansion, to the future of Mission Valley and short-term vacation rentals.

But we had to start with the big news of the week: the new leadership on the board of the Metropolitan Transit System. Georgette Gomez, a member of the San Diego City Council got the votes. She wasn't the only one who wanted the job, though. And she got it largely because of Faulconer, who, out of character, showed up at MTS. If it was a poker game, Faulconer pushed a big stack of chips onto the table everyone else folded.

We asked him why he would do that for such a progressive Democrat.

"I like working with her," he said. "I probably shouldn't say too many nice things, because you know then I'll ruin her cred with the progressive community. But, look, she's a fair, determined, direct individual. I think you want that on boards like that."

On SoccerCity vs. SDSU West: We asked if he was still as supportive of SoccerCity as he was when he endorsed it.

"I am," he said.

Is there any shot at the two sides negotiating again? "There's a shot. You know this is politics, this is the art of the possible."

More immediately: He also addressed the ongoing negotiation between the city and SDSU about where the university can play football. The lease is up this year and it seems like the university wants the city to extend the lease and keep operating the stadium. But the city loses about $7 million a year operating the stadium and there is pressure to shut it down. Faulconer insisted he was only going to make a deal for the short term. "But for the short term, 'How do we have something that makes sense puts the city in a financially better position?' and I'm confident we can get there."

About the Convention Center and hotel-tax hike: The mayor says this is the most important issue before voters this year. We talked to him about how much the measure has changed and asked why it got so much more flexible.

He acknowledged that the reason that the hotel tax hike was going forward as a ballot initiative was to perhaps take advantage of the recent California Supreme Court ruling that seemed to indicate citizens initiatives do not require the same two-thirds threshold for approval of new special taxes that normal ballot measures do.

And that hotel behind the Convention Center?  The partnership that controls the land called Fifth Avenue Landing on the bay side of the Convention Center is planning a hotel. If it is approved, then the long-planned design of the expanded Convention Center can't be built. We asked the mayor how that would be settled.

"That's a subject of a lawsuit. I would just phrase it this way: resolving lawsuits are always of benefit."