SAN DIEGO (CN) - San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Thursday revealed new initiatives to tackle two of the city's biggest problems: crumbling infrastructure and homelessness.
At his second State of the City address, Faulconer revealed plans for "One San Diego" by kicking off the special city council meeting with a promotional video touting infrastructure improvements made to different neighborhoods throughout the city featuring the people who live and work there.
Faulconer's touchstone throughout the evening was telling the stories of San Diegans whose lives have been improved by previous and ongoing initiatives he has prioritized.
"I've seen firsthand that we are a city of people from many different backgrounds who are joined together in the collective belief that San Diego is a place where opportunities are seized every day," Faucloner said.
He announced the "Housing Our Heroes" campaign to help 1,000 homeless veterans get housing by the end of the year. He plans to ask city council to allocate $4 million from the city budget to go toward the San Diego Housing Commission's rapid rehousing efforts.
San Diego is home to the third-largest population of veterans in the nation. The city and county are also home to the nation's fourth-largest homeless population.
"When veterans find themselves on the verge of homelessness or without housing, we will help them find a place to live - so the word 'homeless' never enters their vocabulary," Faulconer said.
San Diego City Councilmember Todd Gloria pointed out the money Faulconer talked about is coming from the sale of city land a few years ago, which the council had already set aside for housing the homeless.
As the only Republican mayor of one of the 10 largest cities in the nation, Faulconer has taken on what is arguably San Diego's biggest problem: crumbling streets.
The city is working to repair 1,000 miles of streets in five years - a goal Faulconer set during last year's address.
Gloria said infrastructure improvements are drastically needed in the city.
"Infrastructure is the biggest problem to face the city," Gloria said. "It is bigger than the pension problem."
Faulconer also announced plans to build and improve 50 parks over the next five years and create a new master plan for San Diego's park system, which hasn't been updated since the 1950's.
His "Play All Day" initiative is a joint-use partnership between the city and the San Diego Unified School District to allow children and families to use school park facilities once the bell has rung - an idea he said "strengthens the bond between our schools and our neighborhoods."
"There are green spaces across San Diego that our communities could use on evenings and weekends, but because they're on school property they get locked up whenever class isn't in session," he said.
"Our communities and our school system are fundamentally linked. We shouldn't let government stand in the way of making our neighborhoods great."
Councilmember Scott Sherman said the collaboration between the city council and mayor's office has decreased "red tape" faced by neighborhoods that need improving.
"Improvements to infrastructure and parks used to be dependent on politics - based on the improvements neighborhoods got," Sherman said. "Now neighborhoods are getting what they need."
After a whirlwind week following the National Football League owners' decision to move the St. Louis Rams to Los Angeles and give the San Diego Chargers the option to join them, Faucloner once again extended the olive branch to the team to work together this year to keep the Chargers in San Diego.
"San Diego, in the last 10 months, we've made more progress on a new stadium than in the last 10 years," Faulconer said. "We joined together the city and the county to craft a real financing plan that doesn't raise taxes. We assembled experts from around the country to design it, and complete the highest-level of environmental review.
"It's not too late to get this done, it's not too late for us to come back to the table."Follow @@BiancaDBruno
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