Effort launched to recall District 2 Councilmember Campbell
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 02/10/21 - 07:15 AM | 3067 views | 0 0 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dr. Jennifer Campbell
Dr. Jennifer Campbell
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An effort to recall District 2 City Councilmember and Council President Dr. Jennifer Campbell has been officially launched.

Recall supporters now have until early June to collect 14,421 signatures – 15% of District 2’s 96,140 registered voters – to qualify the measure on a special election ballot within six months. District 2 includes Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, Point Loma, Mission Beach, and a portion of Clairemont.

The impetus behind the Campbell recall drive stems largely from her stands on two politically potent issues: a compromise proposal she’s offering on short-term rentals. And her support for Ballot Measure E passed in November 2020 removing the 30-foot height limit in the Midway District.

“At a time when the City is facing a budget deficit, a small group of individuals are trying to force San Diego residents to spend over a million dollars for a recall that might be held a few months before a regular election in 2022,” Campbell said. “They may disagree with my policy, but don’t pick the pockets of our neighbors and communities who are suffering through a pandemic and a recession to pay for a special election.”

Campbell’s compromise short-term rental plan is scheduled to be heard on Feb. 23 by the full City Council. An environmental challenge seeking to overturn E was filed back in August 2020 in San Diego Superior Court.

Reacting to the recall, Campbell’s chief-of-staff Venus Molina said previously: “It’s so disappointing because the people who are trying to recall us are the same people opposing us on short-term rentals; a fight they will never win because that ship has sailed. We cannot ban them. We cannot make them illegal. And they say, ‘If you won’t ban them, then we don’t want you.’”

Added Molina: “I can only imagine the class-action lawsuit we could probably encounter if we actually tried to remove that business opportunity from so many operators. I’m pretty sure Expedia and all the different Airbnb platforms would come after [the City]. The people pushing for our recall, would they be willing to pay for [the City’s] legal defense, and for the repercussions, the City will face if they (opponents) actually do what they want us to do (remove all residential STRs)?”

Five neighborhood District 2 civic leaders are spokespersons for the Campbell recall campaign. They are Cathie Umemoto of Pacific Beach Town Council; Kevin Hastings, vice-chair of Ocean Beach Planning Board; Mandy Havlik of Peninsula Community Planning Board; Eric Cullen of Clairemont Community Planning Group; and Gary Wonacott, former Mission Beach Town Council president.

Hastings gave an example illustrating why he supports the recall.

“The City came to the OB Planning Board with an expensive replacement of a wheelchair ramp some accurately referred to as the ‘million-dollar ramp to nowhere.’” he said. “OB Planning Board wanted the City to re-imagine the ADA access and offered up superior (and likely cheaper) alternatives. I and other board members approached Campbell about appealing the project. Rather than entertain the idea, she demanded we drop the appeal. Her staff even resorted to threats: ‘We’ll declare you a rogue board’ and ‘you’re done’ if we didn’t drop the appeal.”

Added Hastings: “She disregards community groups, and the only issues she’s led the way on were a complete 180-degree turns to long-standing interests of D2. I support this recall effort because I don’t see a light at the end of that tunnel. It would be irresponsible to let Campbell finish out her term in council.” 

Havlik supports Campbell’s recall believing she is not adequately representing District 2.

“She sold out District 2 residents by signing a memorandum of understanding with Expedia allowing for short-term vacation rentals in residential areas without meaningful community inputs,” she said. “Then she solicited the community and local D2 community groups for inputs ‘after’ the memorandum was already signed effectively negating community inputs, even though several local community groups and planning boards opposed the proposal. 

Additionally, Campbell campaigned against short-term vacation rentals before she was elected. After she was elected, she changed course.”

Added Havlik: “She supported Measure E even though a majority of residents on the Peninsula voted against Measure E. She took this position after special-interest groups donated over $200,000 to the yes on Measure E campaign. Finally, I question her ethics in pushing through initiatives that will radically change the City for decades to come during a pandemic, when a majority of residents are unable to participate in the political process.”

Wonacott met Campbell during her campaign and was unimpressed.

“I came away concluding she had no grasp of the issues and seemed to have trouble articulating any of her political positions except in generalities,” he said. “It became immediately obvious that she was avoiding venues requiring her to state positions. After six months of excuses that she was still coming up to speed, she disappeared altogether. She has not responded to calls and letters from her constituents in Mission Beach, who, left with no other alternative, have had to sue the City to get her attention.”

Added Wonacott: “She has refused to engage with her constituents on any level, lacking even the most fundamental socio-political communication skills. She chooses to diagnose and come up with therapies for community problems relying on special interests who know how to coddle her. And when confronted by a frustrated group of residents, her reaction is to ‘storm out.’ She has simply been a no-show, and now, she needs to go.”
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