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March 3, 2020 — Primary Election
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Local

City of San DiegoCandidate for Mayor

Photo of Barbara Bry

Barbara Bry

Councilmember/Businesswoman
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Protecting neighborhoods by enforcing regulations on short-term vacation rentals, scooters and opposing state legislation that would increase densities and eliminate height and parking requirements in single-family neighborhoods.
  • Addressing our homeless crisis by focusing on the root causes, particularly mental health and substance abuse issues.
  • Making city government more accountable by fixing our aging infrastructure, improving recruitment and retention of public safety employees and by conducting public business in public – not behind closed doors.

Experience

Experience

Profession:Barbara Bry, City Council Pres & Mayoral Candidate
President Pro Tempore, Chair Budget/Government Efficiency, Vice Chair, San Diego City Council — Elected position (2016–current)
Chief Operating Officer, Blackbird Ventures (2010–2016)
Business Writer, Los Angeles Times (1978–2004)
Chief Marketing Officer, Vistage International (2002–2004)
Vice President, Pro Flowers (1998–2003)
Associate Director and Director of Programs, UCSD Connect (1986–1996)

Education

Harvard MBA, Business (1976)
University of Pennsylvania Masters, Education, (1971)
University of Pennsylvania BA, Bachelors (1971)

Community Activities

Founder, Athena San Diego, a women's advocacy organization that fast tracks women in STEM through leadership development. (1998–current)
Founder, Run Women Run San Diego, a nonpartisan organization that inspires, recruits, and trains qualified, pro-choice women to seek elected and appointed offi (2008–current)
President of the Board, Children's Museum of San Diego (2009–current)
Vice Chair, San Diego Jewish Community Foundation (2010–current)
Board Member, Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest (2010–current)

Biography

Barbara Bry is President Pro Tempore of the San Diego City Council, is Chair of the Council’s Committee of Budget and Government Efficiency and Vice Chair of the Rules Committee and Committee on Public Safety & Livable Neighborhoods. Councilwoman Bry has lived in San Diego for over 35 years. Previously a high-tech entrepreneur and community leader, Bry worked her way through college and grad school, earning a Master’s Degree in Business from Harvard. Ms. Bry was on the founding team of several local high-tech companies, including ProFlowers.com, which created hundreds of local jobs. 

 

A leader in the San Diego business community, Bry taught entrepreneurship at UCSD and founded Athena San Diego, an organization that supports the advancement of women in the tech and life science sectors. In addition, Bry founded Run Women Run a nonpartisan organization that inspires, recruits, and trains qualified, pro-choice women to seek elected and appointed office and created the Workplace Equity Initiative, which is bringing together small business, big business, non-profits and labor organizations to address sexual harassment and pay inequity.

 

Prior to her career as an entrepreneur, she was a business journalist, who spotlighted the vibrant small business community that supports our city’s economy and was honored as Small Business Journalist of the Year for San Diego and Imperial Counties by the Small Business Administration.  Bry has served as President of the Board of the Children’s Museum of San Diego, as Vice Chair of the San Diego Jewish Community Foundation, as a Director of the San Diego Jewish Women's Foundation, and on the board of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest.

Questions & Answers

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

Bry focuses on ensuring a safe, clean and vibrant City for all of its residents. She takes particular interest in creating an accountable and transparent City government that prioritizes fiscal discipline and ensures that all residents and communities are treated fairly and equitably. She looks to create comprehensive long-term solutions, not the typical short-term political “fixes” that have plagued San Diego in the past.

Position Papers

WHY MENTAL HEALTH, DRUG ISSUES MUST BE ADDRESSED IN DEALING WITH HOMELESSNESS

Summary

Building additional housing — by itself — is not enough to end homelessness. In 2012, San Diego politicians promised to “end chronic homelessness downtown in four years.” Instead, it increased.

Over 9,000 single room occupancy (SRO) units — many of them downtown — were lost.

When you lose 9,000 SRO units and allow — by failing to enforce existing city zoning requirements — up to 16,000 single-family homes plus hundreds of apartments and condominiums to be turned into short-term vacation rentals, you reduce housing supply and increase housing costs.

We have about 5,500 unsheltered individuals in the city of San Diego. You do the math.

We need to stop the political grandstanding, offering promises of overnight solutions, and admit this is a difficult and complex problem. Press conferences and slogans will not solve it. I have argued we need a data-driven, comprehensive and collaborative approach that addresses the real causes of homelessness.

One recent study from the Los Angeles Times showed that 46% of those living on the streets had substance abuse problems and 51% had mental health issues. Another study out of UCLA reported substance abuse and mental health concerns at 75% and 78%, respectively. The new plan commissioned by the San Diego Housing Commission, while not perfect, finally suggests options to previous politician's unsuccessful approach. The Housing Commission plan recognizes both the legal and moral imperative that we provide safe alternative shelter. But it also recognizes that success is dependent upon dedicated teams of mental health professionals, drug rehabilitation specialists, vocational trainers, and broadly educated law enforcement officers to deal with the issues at the root of homelessness.

Over a decade, the view of homelessness as principally a housing problem has dug a deep and dangerous hole that has swallowed the homeless in a cycle of hopelessness and threatens the health and safety of our entire community. When you are in a hole, it’s usually smart to stop digging.

We still have a difficult climb ahead of us. A good first step is to accept the failure of past policies and to make mental illness, drug addiction and public safety our priorities moving forward.

As mayor, here is how I will approach this issue:

  • I will enforce the existing municipal code against conversion of our housing stock into short-term vacation rentals and bring these housing units back onto the market.
  • I will invest in replacing the SROs lost under previous administration's watch by building permanent supportive housing units with services.
  • I will provide shelters, transitional housing and safe parking options in the interim.
  • I will personally engage county officials to make sure they fulfill their responsibility to deal with individuals suffering from drug and alcohol addiction and mental health problems; the county has both the responsibility and the resources to add mental health and recuperative care beds.
  • I will put trained professionals on the street — professionals who can confront the everyday problems our unsheltered population faces and connect them to the help they need.
  • I will invest in programs with proven results and eliminate programs that can’t document their effectiveness.
  • I will focus on children who are caught in the cycle of homelessness to make sure they are in school and get them protection from the drug culture so they can escape this vicious cycle.
  • I will identify the individuals who are the most expensive to the system in terms of emergency room and other services and focus on getting them the help they need, which is cheaper in the long term.
  • I will enforce our vagrancy laws after we have provided for housing alternatives and diversion programs.
  • I will personally attend the meetings of the Regional Task Force on the Homeless and meet regularly with the county’s other mayors so we have a coordinated approach to homelessness and other regional issues.
  • I will not waste taxpayer money setting up a new housing bureaucracy when the San Diego Housing Commission, a city agency whose budget the city controls, has already developed expertise in this area.

Promises of simplistic solutions — “just build more housing” — will not solve this difficult and complex problem. Press conferences and slogans will not solve it. We need a data-driven, comprehensive and collaborative approach that most effectively mobilizes local, state, federal and private-sector resources to address the real causes of homelessness. As your next mayor, I will implement this approach as one of my top priorities.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT & EXPANSION

Summary

Like much of our country, San Diego has a wage, poverty, and employment rate gap. These inequalities have far reaching impacts throughout the city and impede its overall growth and livability. This must change – the future of San Diego depends on it. As your Mayor I will focus our efforts on creating a “City of Opportunity” in which people of all income levels can lead productive lives and contribute to their communities. Such a city will rely on the development and maintenance of a strong economy – the foundation that will enable the City of San Diego and its residents to thrive

In order to make the “City of Opportunity” a reality we will embrace the Innovation Economic vision – the idea that knowledge, entrepreneurship, innovation, technology and collaboration fuels economic growth. By encouraging and welcoming the development of opportunities in the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) fields, the City of San Diego will become home to the highest paying jobs and good service sector jobs around it.

Moreover, a dedication to fiscally responsible, long-term growth plans that center on the Innovation Economy will favorably impact generations to come. It will drive our entire economy and be the key to San Diego’s future growth. Full STEAM Ahead!

AS YOUR MAYOR:

  • I will make it an economic imperative to develop our home-grown talent.
  • I will work with our local/regional educational institutions to ensure that our students are being trained and educated with STEAM-focused curriculums.
  • I will work to expand the Connect2Careers paid internship program with a focus on jobs in which employers have needs and a focus on community college students in those areas.
  • I will ensure the enforcement of statutes affecting minimum wage, prevailing wage and wage theft.
  • I will support project labor agreements in which public money is used to lend support for increasing diversity in apprenticeship programs.
  • I will lead a process to re-develop the City Hall site to serve as a catalyst for a downtown tech and arts hub with the goal of employing more residents south of I-8. The development of a tech and arts hub downtown is both an economic and cultural imperative so that jobs are closer to the people, and people are closer to the jobs.
  • I will work to ensure that companies that receive contracts (the City of San Diego has $1 billion in contract spending) from the city increase their levels of employer engagement in the development of their workforce’s STEAM capabilities.
  • I will seek out and encourage established STEAM companies to relocate or open offices in San Diego.
  • I will work to eliminate unnecessary roadblocks and complications that prevent businesses from being able to start up, prosper and spur job growth across the STEAM spectrum.
  • I will work to develop cross-border economic opportunities – taking full advantage of the unique financial opportunities that are available to border cities.
  • I will work to identify a dedicated revenue stream to fund arts and culture.
  • I will work to ensure that San Diego is a model of equity, and that no matter where you live in San Diego you have quality municipal services and access to opportunity.

As current President Pro Tem of the San Diego City Council, Chair of the Budget and Government Efficiency Committee and Vice Chair of the Rules Committee and the Committee on Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods I will continue my efforts to ensure that the City of San Diego creates long range economic plans that will incorporate STEAM and the Innovation economy into its overall vision, ensuring that ALL of San Diego benefits. I

DON’T JUST TALK ABOUT THESE ISSUES, I DELIVER:

  • I was central to the development of the Workplace Equity Initiative addressing a myriad of issues including ensuring pay equity.

We all deserve to live in a city where one job is enough, where we can live in a home we can afford and can get to via efficient public transit, all while being surrounded by our city’s great natural beauty. As your Mayor, I will ensure that our economic policies result in this vision becoming a reality for all. Full STEAM Ahead!

Housing Affordability & the Impact of Short Term Vacation Rentals

Summary
Making housing affordable starts with having an executive in the Mayor’s office who understands the issue.
If we don’t understand the direct consequence of bad policy and a mismanaged bureaucracy on the cost of affordable living, we can never fix the problem!

There are numerous tools for addressing our shortage of affordable housing – inclusionary zoning, tax credits, streamlined permitting, increased densities, reduced parking requirements, etc. – but there’s no single silver bullet that solves the problem, and no one-size-fits-all solution that works in every neighborhood.

We’ve already made it easier to build granny flats.  And while I disagree with the Mayor about lifting height limits citywide, I do support higher densities along established transit corridors and streamlining the review process when projects conform to adopted Community Plans.

That’s why I support accelerated completion of Community Plan updates, project-area EIRs that allow individual developments consistent with community plans to receive expedited processing and a citywide commitment to encouraging higher densities next to transportation centers.

The most important role the City can play is providing upgraded transportation and other municipal infrastructure to enhance the quality of life in every neighborhood.

"This is not about simplistic labels like NIMBY or YIMBY. I’m a strong supporter of the City’s Climate Action Plan and favor increased density along transportation corridors, but I believe these decisions should be made locally, by local elected officials, not by Sacramento politicians.” -Barbara Bry

Short-Term Vacation Rentals As Mayor, I will enforce our existing municipal code, which prohibits short term rentals in all residential zones.

We can't continue to let a multi-billion dollar industry take advantage of our City.  Currently, up to 16,000 single-family homes are being used as short-term vacation rentals as well as a growing number of apartments and condominiums.  

We are losing precious housing stock at a time that we have a housing shortage.

Economic studies show that the costs of short-term rentals to our City outweigh the benefits, increasing housing costs, reducing City tax revenues from tourism, circumventing zoning laws, and creating more income inequality, not less. Auditors also revealed that THE CITY SPENT $2 MILLION to pick up trash at 16,000 properties being used FOR ILLEGAL short-term rental businesses.

In 2018, I tried to negotiate a compromise with Airbnb when I led an effort to have the City Council pass legislation.  This compromise was not acceptable to Airbnb which spent over $1 million to “referendize” our legislation so the Council was forced to rescind it.  Since then, the numbers have increased, and now apartments are also being turned into visitor accommodations.

It is time to enforce our existing municipal code which prohibits short-term vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods.

 

I recognize the damage 16,000 unregulated short-term rentals have done to our housing stock, rental prices, neighborhoods, and taxpayers. That’s why I’ve led the effort to demand enforcement of reasonable regulations that protect our neighborhoods from this multi-billion dollar industry.

That is one reason I am running for Mayor.   LAND USE, HOUSING & DEVELOPMENT POLICY Business as usual has brought San Diego a housing shortage, poor land use results, significant delays in permit processing, and controversy over virtually every significant developmentrelated decision.   Limited land remains available for development, and we must ensure that any new development is carried out in ways that are sensitive and beneficial to the needs of communities both in the short and long term. At the same time, we are building too little housing, and most of the new housing is too expensive for typical working households. A fresh and comprehensive look at the way we make land use, housing and development decisions in San Diego is required to achieve our objectives for a sustainable future, the reinvigoration of the housing market, and reducing conflict that wastes both time and money. This will be the value of having a proactive leader, one who gets ahead of problems instead of just reacting, in the Mayor’s office!   AS YOUR MAYOR:
  • I WILL CLEARLY IDENTIFY OUR NEEDS: Our communities thrive best when they are effectively connected as parts of a whole – through comprehensive transportation systems, a collaborative political process, and effective sharing of resources. This can only be achieved by clearly identifying our needs at the community level as well as citywide, based on a clear vision of the city we want. By looking to the future and planning accordingly we can assure that progress benefits the entirety of the City of San Diego.
  • I WILL ENSURE A MORE COLLABORATIVE PLANNING PROCESS:
  • Increasing allocations for staffing and financial resources that will keep community plans current, so that they can be used as the primary points of reference for good land use decisions. Preparing and approving a master environmental impact report which addresses the impacts of anticipated build-out within each plan area, simplifying any subsequent projectspecific analyses. Setting both maximum and minimum densities, to ensure a gradual transition to land uses which are required to accommodate the city’s growing population needs. Land use applications which are consistent with the plan should therefore not require further discretionary approval which is important in providing certainty to both communities and to developers. Establishing a uniform set of operating rules for planning groups and providing them with the training and professional staffing needed to make informed recommendations.
With these reforms, the planning groups can more effectively help decision makers establish priorities for improved services and infrastructure. Redesigning the processing required for individual project applications and plans to be more efficient which will allow for swifter review and approval of plans requiring building permits or other administrative permits. Our goal will be to ensure that no applications will be delayed by such factors as changes in city staffing, staff vacation schedules, or new demands for revisions. Ensuring coordination between Planning and Development Services to reduce costs and improve efficiency. Monitoring our numerous plans (infrastructure, budget, greenhouse gas reduction) to make sure they are not in conflict with one another and are consistent with the General Plan.
  • I WILL ENSURE THE RIGHT KIND OF HOUSING IN THE RIGHT PLACES:
  • Implementing community pilot programs for areas which are close to job centers and can readily accommodate more housing, in order to test the effectiveness of changes in land use on a smaller scale before rolling them out citywide. Preventing blanket waivers of height and parking requirements that ignore the particular needs of each community.
  • Determining incentives that will result in greater affordable housing construction. Producing units affordable to middle-income households will take pressure off lower-income households, who currently are being outbid for previously affordable units. Requiring greater affordability in return for making housing incentives available. Facilitating building of accessory dwelling units (or granny flats) by expediting processing, reducing fees, and offering pre-approved, standard architectural plans.
  • Investigating creation and expansion of assistance programs to reduce down payment requirements and interest rates for borrowers who have good credit and wish to transition from renter to owner status, in order to help to provide better housing opportunities and stabilize neighborhoods. Ensuring that communities receive tangible benefits in return for community plan amendments, in between comprehensive updates, that increase building intensity.
  • Ensuring that a housing development strategy will be carried out in tandem with expansion and improvement of the transit system by requiring the city to collaborate closely with SANDAG and MTS in planning and financing transit system improvements. Ensuring that new, higher-density housing is located close to job centers and to public transit corridors, as well as within mixed-use developments.
  • Prohibiting further destruction or conversion of SROs (single room occupancies) unless new development plans include equally affordable replacement units.
  • Limiting short-term vacation rentals to primary residences only, to keep investors from turning homes into mini-hotels. They remove large numbers of units from the market, drive up housing costs, undercut the hospitality industry, and, worst of all, disrupt stable residential neighborhoods.
  • Establishing a financing plan to which all who benefit contribute in a fair and immediate way to upgrading and maintenance of existing infrastructure – streets, sidewalks, bridges, parks, water lines, sewer pipes, storm drains – and to construction of new needed infrastructure beyond what developers are required to provide. P
As current President Pro Tem of the San Diego City Council, Chair of the Budget and Government Efficiency Committee and Vice Chair of the Rules Committee and the Committee on Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods I will continue my efforts to ensure that the City of San Diego stops lurching from one bad decision to the next and instead looks to incorporate long range planning into its deliberations so that when rules and regulations are implemented they will result in benefits for ALL of San Diego.   I DON’T JUST TALK ABOUT THESE ISSUES, I DELIVER:
  • First elected official to oppose the SoccerCity land grab.
  • Stood up against Airbnb disruption of our neighborhoods.
  • Questioned the $72 million purchase of 101 Ash Street without a long-term real estate strategy.
  • Helped create a partnership between Habitat for Humanity and the San Diego Jewish Community Foundation to fund a program that will allow Habitat to scale its efforts to sell homes at affordable prices to more first-time home buyers.
  • Supported an ordinance to reduce the fees and to make it easier to build an accessory dwelling unit.
  • Supported community plan updates for Midway and Old Town to allow for more housing units.

Videos (4)

— January 27, 2020 Barbara Bry for Mayor of San Diego 2020

San Diego is a Mess! It lurches from one shortsighted decision to the next. A political class that confuses headlines with accomplishment. And little concern for, or understanding of, how the City got to where it is. There is an old saying in business, “If you don’t know how you got there, it’s hard to find your way out.”

My experience and understanding of capital markets, the innovation economy, and the role local governments can play to land more higher wage jobs and broaden the City’s tax base is what will make for a strong Mayor.

I believe that experience is what sets me apart. I believe indepdence sets me apart. And I believe my dedication to accountability and transparency sets me apart! Combined, these attributes make me the best choice for Mayor.

Fighting the Root Causes of Homelessness — January 25, 2020 Barbara Bry for Mayor San Diego 2020

Father Joe's Endorsement of Barbara Bry's homeless policies and approach

Protecting San Diego Neighborhoods from Short Term Vacation Rentals — January 25, 2020 Barbara Bry for Mayor San Diego 2020

Protecting San Diego Neighborhoods from Short Term Vacation Rentals

Support and Protect San Diego Neighborhoods — January 25, 2020 Barbara Bry for Mayor San Diego 2020

Why experience and action matters.

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