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San Diego mayor lobbies on border, housing, infrastructure in D.C.

Posted at 4:57 PM, Oct 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-01 20:35:17-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria spent part of the week in Washington D.C., lobbying dozens of officials on issues impacting San Diego.

In an interview with ABC 10News, Mayor Gloria says he focused on four key issues:

  1. Housing and homelessness
  2. Additional federal investment in infrastructure
  3. Lifting prohibitions on non-essential travel at the border
  4. Advocating for more funding for alleviating cross-border pollution at the Tijuana River Valley.

Gloria, now back in San Diego, took the trip at a time of uncertainty in the city. For instance, the Housing Commission this week reported it ran out of rental assistance money as the state eviction moratorium expired.

Gloria said he brought a message of "good news" to D.C. in hopes of convincing officials and lawmakers to invest more in rental assistance. He noted the city doled out more than $100 million to nearly 12,000 qualifying families.

"I want them to know that if they do allocate more money for housing and homelessness, that there are cities like San Diego prepared to receive those scarce dollars and use them efficiently and effectively," said Gloria, who met with Housing Secretary Marcia Fudge.

The mayor's trip came amid Congressional debate over a $1 trillion dollar infrastructure package, and he stressed its importance to San Diego's economic and job growth.

For instance, Gloria said the $2.1 billion mid-coast trolley extension to UC San Diego, opening in November, was only possible because federal dollars funded 50 percent of it.

"The plea for the passage of the infrastructure bill as soon as possible really is a plea to put more San Diegans to work, to get more solutions literally in the ground and on the streets of this city," said Gloria.

Gloria says it would still be some time before Customs and Border Protections lifts restrictions on non-essential travel at the U.S.-Mexico border. The limitations have hit San Ysidro businesses that depend on the traffic, with the Chamber of Commerce reporting more than 280 have closed and a loss of $1 billion in sales.

"We have hundreds of businesses that are teetering on the edge of closure because they don't have the foot traffic that they would normally expect by being located next to a land port-of-entry."

"This is not sustainable and we need some change."

Gloria says CBP officials explained issues of staffing, with officers having to go into quarantine after exposure. They told the mayor getting to pre-COVID levels will take time.

The restrictions are scheduled to lift on Oct. 21 but have routinely been extended. CBP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Also, Gloria lobbied congressional and federal officials for more investment to stop cross-border pollution in the Tijuana River Valley, which floods during storms and leads to beach closures.

Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency announced $300 million to build needed infrastructure, but it may not be enough.

"Increasingly the solutions that we think will help make sure that our beaches stay open and our water remains clean probably will be in excess of $300 million," said Gloria.

Gloria said his visit could plant seeds for next year's federal budget to get money for those projects.