Reflecting back, lifeguard-turned-Councilman Harris noted he’s come a long way — with a ways to go — until he relinquishes his seat in December to Councilwoman-elect Lorie Zapf.
“I am driven by the opportunity to improve our quality of life and preserve our San Diegan lifestyle,” said Harris, noting he’s hobnobbed with neighbors about public safety, infrastructure and the environment.
“We’ve discussed density, homeless issues, the need for increased pedestrian safeguards, road improvement for cyclists, the need for additional police officers, the enforcement of existing laws and more,” Harris said. “We’ve also talked about how to make San Diego more sustainable so future generations can enjoy the District 2 neighborhoods we call home.”
As a councilman, Harris said he’s learned the importance of community engagement and participation.
“During this time, I have convened three Town Hall meetings to discuss density, traffic calming and homelessness,” he said. “I am a strong proponent of community engagement because my decisions are best informed by knowing what my community needs.”
Harris said some of the highlights from his council term’s first 100 days are:
• encouraging constituents to remain actively engaged in providing input throughout the community planning process;
• approving and helping implement the rollout of the long-awaited oversize-vehicle ordinance to eliminate overnight parking of motor homes and trailers on residential streets;
• initiating public accountability of city efforts to prosecute illegal marijuana dispensaries, as well as enforcing existing violations, particularly in Pacific Beach;
• restoring library hours;
• securing funding for an urban forester in this year’s budget to coordinate and implement the pending citywide Urban Forestry Plan being developed, as well as coordinating citywide tree maintenance;
• beefing up the police department, including increasing police academy class sizes, adding 17 police civilian positions, providing $3 million for the police retention program and allocating $1 million for police cameras;
• infrastructure improvements in Pacific Beach/Mission Beach, including: $2.2 million repair/restoration of damaged and eroded historic boardwalk seawall/walkway, San Fernando Place to Ventura Street (Belmont Park) scheduled for completion in 2015; $4.6 million replacement/upgrade of observation/rescue tower at South Mission Beach lifeguard station; $500,000 rebuild of the public restroom/shower facility at the foot of Law Street; and installation of a colorful mural on the crosswalk at PB Middle School in partnership with Beautiful Pacific Beach and the Pacific Beach eco-district.
Looking ahead to the next four months, Harris said he’s “committed to this continued engagement to ensure the needs of District 2 residents are met and to ensure the city’s spending of taxpayer dollars is fiscally responsible.”
The councilman said he has two more Town Hall meetingss planned in Linda Vista and Point Loma before the end of his term.
Harris talked about other items coming up.
“As part of the city’s effort to be a national leader in sustainability and protect our quality of life for future generations, the city is in the process of adopting a climate action plan that will reduce our carbon footprint, build a clean energy economy and prepare our city for the impacts of global warming,” he said.
Noting San Diego is one of two cities vying to host the 35th America’s Cup in summer 2017, Harris said the city is “actively advocating with the San Diego Unified Port, the mayor’s office and the Economic Development Corporation to ensure San Diego wins the bid.
“I look forward to the next 147 days and appreciate the opportunity to represent the residents of District 2,” concluded Harris.