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San Diego's mayoral candidates talk homelessness, housing

Posted at 12:42 PM, Feb 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-15 15:51:26-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Six candidates for San Diego's next mayor met on the debate stage Friday to discuss the city's housing and homelessness crises.

The solutions for San Diego's affordable housing challenges ranged across each candidate, which included State Assemblyman Todd Gloria, Councilman Scott Sherman, City Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry, activist Tasha Williamson, computer tech Rich Riel, and family nurse practitioner Gita Appelbaum.

"Let's get real about this. This is strictly a supply and demand issue. So you need to make sure that we create more supply so we can start bringing down the cost of housing," Sherman said.

RELATED: Poll: Gloria maintains lead in mayor's race; convention center measure is close

"We need a charter change to stop the developers taking our land, which they have done for the last 40 years. Lease it. Don't sell it," Riel said. "It is criminal. What is going on in the real estate assets department because they are so focused on giving away our land."

Rent control was also a topic of discussion.

"I do not support rent control. As a businesswoman, I know it simply doesn't work. It doesn't create one new unit of housing. In fact, it may stymie new construction," said Bry.

RELATED: San Diego's top Democratic mayoral candidates square off in debate

"I do not support it. Redcap, I think is a reasonable alternative to address escalating cost out," Gloria said.

"I want to drop my control to 2 percent with owners subsidies," said Williamson.

But all of that was tied to homelessness. During the 2019 "We All Count" point-in-time count, more than 8,000 homeless people were living in San Diego County.

Candidates specifically focused on what the role of police should be when it comes to interacting with the homeless population.

RELATED: Councilman Sherman's candidacy will alter mayor's race

"The cops, the police department ... That's not their role," said Appelbaum. "We need health providers ... We need compassionate care."

"Well, law enforcement right now is being burdened by Faulconer, and by the city," Riel said. "We are not addressing the homeless issue in the City of San Diego."

"Police should not be used to incarcerate people into a jail that has the highest rate of in-custody death," said Williamson.

"I think we're using police officers to address these individuals is not a good use of police time, given we have a shortage of police officers. We need more trained social workers on the street," said Bry.

According to a scientific 10News/Union-Tribune poll, the mayoral race hasn't changed much, with 29 percent of likely voters still backing Gloria, with Sherman and Bry the only other candidates to break double digits. Another 32 percent of voters were still undecided.