David grew up in the Barrio Logan community of San Diego, the neighborhood on the working waterfront that has a long history of environmental degradation, high asthma rates, and industrial-residential conflicts. His childhood home was next door to a chrome plating plant, and he can trace his own asthma to the constant presence of toxic emissions affecting residential areas, school playgrounds, and parks. That experience sharpened his resolve to fight for social, economic and environmental justice.
He began his career as a social services worker and after-school teacher. In 2003, he was selected to the prestigious Capitol Fellows Program where he served under the Secretary of State.
After his return to San Diego, David worked with a company that develops new opportunities for affordable housing, and before his own election, proudly represented Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny as a community liaison to the neighborhoods he grew up in.
Elected to the San Diego City Council in 2010, David is currently Chair of the Natural Resources & Culture Committee, Vice Chair of the Land Use & Housing Committee, and a member of the Budget & Finance and Rules & Economic Development Committees. Additionally, he serves on the San Diego Regional County Airport Authority, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System Board, SANDAG Borders Committee, Otay Valley Regional Park Policy Committee, Bayshore Bikeway Working Group, and the San Diego Consortium Policy Board. He most recently joined the Board of Director’s for Local Progress: a national municipal policy network.
During his first term in office, Councilmember Alvarez has been successful in restoring vital city services in each year of the City’s budget, including funding increases for libraries, police and fire protection, more street repair and installation of street lights and reducing retiree health care costs.
Other proud achievements include the development of the long-awaited COMM22, a mixed-use, mixed-income, transit-oriented development located at Commercial and 22nd Streets in San Diego; a proposed Property Value Protection Ordinance, which fines banks to cover cleanup costs when they fail to maintain foreclosed properties; implementing the Citygate Plan to address deficiencies in the City’s fire safety levels; revitalizing commercial corridor’s in District Eight as well as focusing on economic growth and development with new projects such as Mercado del Barrio center in Barrio Logan and the expansion of Las Americas shopping facility near the border. Cross border relationships are important to David as he continues to foster working relationships with his counterparts across the border.
Currently, Councilmember Alvarez is shepherding several important community plan updates to completion including Barrio Logan, Otay Mesa and San Ysidro. Plans are also underway to update the Southeast San Diego Community Plan, which will result in all community plans updated in District Eight. These plans will guide growth and redevelopment in these communities as well as balance the needs of the residents. He recently spearheaded the creation of the Barrio Logan Maintenance Assessment District which will provide much needed maintenance and services for the community of Barrio Logan.
Proudly serving as the Border Councilmember, his focus on the southern portion of his district has resulted in the approval of the Cross Border Facility which will increase new air travel opportunities, ease border waits – a critical need for the region, and act as a model for international cooperation. Councilmember Alvarez has also championed significant infrastructure needs in the district, directing millions of dollars to build a missing San Ysidro road segment serving high school students, develop the San Ysidro Library, improve Palm Avenue, design Pond 20 improvements in Otay Mesa, as well as many other vital projects.
Councilmember Alvarez is a strong advocate and supporter of arts in education and helped to restore the Penny for the Arts proposal, which doubles the City’s arts and culture funding over the next five years. His goal is to provide 1 million for education in arts by 2017. David also supports and provides funding for numerous community organization and non-profit programs, as well as local cultural festivals and events.
In addition to continuing to provide prompt and courteous service to all residents, Councilmember Alvarez’s priorities include: increasing and safeguarding San Diego’s water supply, building a new pedestrian border crossing at Virginia Avenue, creating regional parks at Chicano Park and along Chollas Creek, streamlining regulations for additional parking and for food trucks, creating more opportunities for local small businesses and a designing and funding a joint use park for students at Perkins Elementary and Beyer Elementary Schools.
Councilmember David Alvarez was born in San Diego to Jose and Maria Alvarez and has four brothers and one sister. Growing up in Barrio Logan, David attended local public schools: Perkins Elementary, Memorial Junior High, and San Diego High School. David was the first in his family to graduate from high school and college. He graduated with honors from San Diego State University. Councilmember Alvarez, his wife Xochitl, and their daughter Izel reside in Logan Heights. He is an avid cyclist and bikes to work often.
David is proud to continue the work he began in childhood and strive to carry out every day: to bring social, economic, and environmental justice to the people he serves.
In January of this year, both Mayoral candidates accepted an invitation to speak at Shop Talk at The Imperial Barbershop located in the 4th District. They agreed to talk as well as take question from the constituents in that community, give their views and address their concerns. TIOM has given equal time and opportunity for both candidates to give their views to our readers, to not show any bias for either. Our goal was to allow our readers to hear the candidates in their own words and let them make an informed decision, not based on editorials or party affiliation. This is an important election for the direction forward for San Diego and we urge everyone to tune in and get out and VOTE. The elections are this Tuesday February 11th
SHOP TALK w/ David Alvarez
David Alvarez Transcribed Shop Talk:
A little bit like getting a message, you know. Uh, my wife likes to go to the salon, get her things taken care. But, uh, being on the chair, sometimes you get to relax, and. So I apologize for interrupting you. This is your relax time. Uh, ’cause I know you all work hard and everything. I just want to say thank you for allowing me to speak.
Uh, I’m a native San Diegan. My parents actually were immigrants to this country. I’m the first, I’m the youngest in my family but first and the only one to go to college. I’m from right here, in Logan Heights. And, uh, I grew up very, very poor. My dad was a janitor. He retired as a janitor. My mom was a fast food worked. She worked at the, uh, fast food chains. The one’s we know, the arches, and the hamburger one. Um, but you know, they worked really hard. And I’m really proud of my parents for showing me a work ethic, for showing me some values, for showing me that I could stand up for things that I believe in.
And even though they have no idea what college is, no idea what politics is, uh, they’ve always supported me. They’ve always stood by my side. And I just want to tell you, that’s where I come from.
And now I’m raising my own family, in the same neighborhood that I grew up in, in Logan Heights. I have a daughter, she’s 4 years old.
My wife is pregnant. She’s 8 months. I live with my 80-year-old father. My mom passed a few years ago. And we brought in my dad to live with us. He’s 80 years old. We take care of family. It’s important for me to take care of my elders. And so, that that’s my family structure.
My wife is actually an educator here in Oak Park. She works in a school with, uh, first generation, trying to get first generation students going to college. Be the first in their family to go to college just like she was, and like I was.
And so, we’re really committed to the city. We love the city that we grew up in, gave us so many opportunities. But we also recognize that not everyone has those opportunities. And a lot of people have been left behind in the city. Uh, and depending on where you live, you might or might not have that opportunity to be successful. A lot of my friends that I grew up with are no longer with us. Involving gangs. My brothers were involved in gangs. It took them a while to find a straight path. Thank god that they are on that path now. They’re working. They have decent jobs, they’ve been able to buy a house, sustain their families. But not, that’s a story of the success story there. Unfortunately, that’s not the same story for some my friends, who ended up going down a different path. And, uh, I want to make sure our city gives everybody the opportunity to be successful. Make sure that our young people have opportunities. Educational opportunities. Job training opportunities. A skill set building.
Programs to help our young people really get on the right path. I want to make sure we have opportunities for good housing, affordable housing. People can get on that pathway to buy a house. Those opportunities are slipping by more and more as this city continues to be more about those who have, and less about those who don’t have.
And so I really believe that we can build this city, re-build our city. You all know our roads and the quality of the roads that have been neglected for far too long. You all know the lack of development and investment in our small business. And entrepreneurs are trying to make things happens. And the city just doesn’t help out, doesn’t reach out, give ’em a hand.
You all know about how we’ve got problems with public safety. And how, and depending on where you live, you might not get a response from a, from a fire station or an ambulance just as quickly if you live in Southeast as if you live in somewhere else.
Those are the inequities, the realities of San Diego that I want to change. And so, we’re goin’ around every neighborhood, talkin’ to everybody. Doing these conversations with people. And I’m just proud of the support from average San Diegans. People who are just struggling, people who have been successful, people from all walks of life that are being part of this campaign.
People are helping me, not just because they want to see me get elected because I want to be a politician. I want to be a public servant. That’s what my parents taught me. Work hard, give back to your community. Do for others that can’t do for themselves.
And so, that’s my pathway. That’s why I want to be your next mayor. And I’d be honored to have your support. So thank you very much for having me. And, we’re going to take some questions. After all, that’s why I’m here.
I’m going to ask one question, uh. Voice of San Diego had written a article about, uh, racial profiling in our in our community. 10 years ago, uh, Chief Landsdown, there was a program where when everybody, when people got stopped in certain communities they actually took down whether you were black, Hispanic, female, whatever. Since he’s, since he’s been the police chief, that program went away. It kind of gave a good state of why people were getting stopped, whom was getting stopped. Right. Okay. The ACLU and the NAACP actually had a meeting with Landsdown, to where he said was he going to actually implement this thing back again.
As mayor, would you have some type of oversight committee or would you, yourself, make sure that that’s something that is always going to work with the police chief.
I mean, I look at the stuff over here, David, and you’ve probably seen it in Logan Heights. Even with the gang detail, they way that the utilize, they work in our community, with the harassment of the kids. I mean real, real harassment. I know there’s a gang problem. But there are certain ways, culturally that you can handle these things. So, ah. What would you do, as mayor, to basically help the police chief in getting on a better relationship with the community and actually seeing that these things follow through that he said he was going to do?
Absolutely, and I just met with the chief about a week ago, and I asked him about the status of that. And, this is, this question is about people who are being stopped by the police and the data that is now being collected as far as ethnicities, race, and who they’re stopping.
We had a really severe case of the police stopping individuals, who uh, uh, for the wrong reasons. They asked for their information. We were in the wrong. That’s why we had to pay off a lot of money. We got sued. And so, I asked the chief what we’re doing to correct that. And the data, just so you know, is now being collected. And I’m going to make sure that it continues to be collected, so that there’s accountability. And we want that data to become available as well, as much as possible in order for it to be available so that people can understand what really is going on with the department.
My commitment is to more diversity in our departments, acknowledging how diverse San Diego is, and being culturally competent.
To deal with the communities that come from all walks of life, all different backgrounds. That is something that I’m gonna make sure we push forward when I become mayor.
Ok, I’ve got a question for you. Okay, um, I wanted to ask, if both campaigns opened up an office here in Southeast San Diego. And I want to the significance of opening up this office here in Southeast and finally reaching out to this community to go after their vote. ‘Cause this is the first time that I’ve seen. And, uh, Mr. Coons said that last week that this district has been overlooked as far as going after this vote in this area.
From you, what is your significance of this office here in San Diego, in southeast, right here on Imperial Avenue?
Well, and the reality is that I haven’t overlooked this community. And I haven’t just shown up last week like my opponent did. Uh, my office has been here. And not only has my office been here when I’ve been campaigning, but I’ve been here. And I’ve been speaking up on behalf of southeast San Diego. In fact, they are attacking me on being someone who speaks up for the community. But that’s the right thing to do. I, I believe we need to focus in the communities that have been under-served and under-represented. And that’s the honest truth. And all he stands for, really, is the same downtown interests that have run our city for too long, for decades.
And uh, and so, I’ve stood up before. When I decided to run for office, we opened up an office here. We didn’t wait until, again, just a couple weeks ago just because we thought it was important to get elected.
I think it’s important not to get elected but to actually create a relationship that is long-lasting. That’s why I’m proud to have the support of Mertle Cole, our council member from this area, many business leaders, community leaders, uh, and people from all over, uh, who, who really believe we need a mayor who speaks for all of us. Not a mayor who speaks for the same interests that have run this city for decades. That’s what he represents. And I’m not here just to ask you for your vote. I’m here to ask you for a relationship that goes far beyond this election. For when I get elected, so you can help me make better decisions. Help me understand what’s happening in the community. Help me understand what our business needs are, what our community needs are. Help me get people into our power structure, our boards, or commissions, so we can get real diversity that reflects the diversity of our city.
Alright, I can take your question next.
What I wanted to know is, what’s your vision for the fourth district, like down on the fourth of Euclid and Imperial, to make that better. What’s your view on it?
So the question is the vision for this district specifically. I want to make sure that we focus on re-developing and re-investing in this community, primarily to the use of the under-utilized assets. We see abandon properties. We see things that are not opened today. We have lots that are just there, vacant. We gotta use those assets, uh, to reinvest. We’ve got to put in the infrastructure that is needed, rebuilding our roads and then building the fire stations that are needed. Make sure our, our libraries, our Skyline Branch library gets done, completed, so that our kids can have a safe place to go. Uh, all of those things that I’ve been missing from this community. I’m gonna push forward on all those projects. And then get some investment, get some private dollars to come in here to revitalize the area, to give people jobs, to give people opportunities to open up business, for entrepreneurs, uh, to get the economy stronger. Because you know that in this community, the unemployment rate is higher than other parts. So we gotta get people back to work. We focus on our young people, give them opportunities, pathways to careers by partnering with our schools. All of those are ideas that I have that I want to push forward if I get elected mayor.
I just wanted to know if you have a plan to address the homeless situations here.
Yes. The question is on homelessness. What are we going to do about that?
You know, right now, there’s different models that are being used. The one we use today is a model that, uh, we’ve tried, and it hasn’t really worked.
This idea of just putting up shelters, and having people go and stay in the shelters, uh. It doesn’t really work. And so we’re going to have to be more focused. We’re going to have to make sure that we treat people by putting them in housing. And then doing the wrap-around services. A lot of individuals who are homeless have, uh, either a drug abuse situation, a mental situation, or they, uh, you know, just are a paycheck away from maybe going back to a stable situation.
So we want to put them in a housing situation where they are stable. Bring in the resource that are needed, the case management, the health care services. Get them to be centered and to be able to move on with their lives. Give them the job skills that they need, the educational training that they need.
And this model requires a lot more money, which means we’re gonna have to focus. So instead of maybe putting 300 people in a shelter where they can sleep at night, maybe it means focusing on 100 people a year, but actually getting those people the right tools that they need to get out of homelessness.
So it’s a more, uh, more direct service, more one-one-one, more comprehensive. And, uh, again, it’s maybe not as many people, but it’s more effective tool ’cause you actually get them out of the cycle of homelessness.
A couple of things. Um, as far as sustainability and renewable energy, and and what comes up first is, we’re in a drought. We have Cholas Lake over there as our reservoir. And what is being done to address that? It’s leaking. You know, and we can’t afford to have leaking water. And in addition to that, I’ve kinda been responsible for about $3M worth of solar on no-income homes in this area. And when I speak to downtown about what they are doing, all their conversation is above Interstate 8. I’ve had a conversation with our interim mayor who, who came up with a new climate action plan. And renewable energy and sustainability cannot be held hostage by political terms. Uh, we’ve had 5 climate actions plans since 2002. Ironically we’ve had about 5 mayors since 2002. So every time we get a new mayor, we get a new plan. What I do know about renewable energy is that it saves money. It cleans the air. And it’s, and it’s doable.
My question is, would you be willing to fight along with me to bring it here first, south of 8? I’ve put quite a bit in your, in your, um, um, city council district. So my concern is, can we get some quid pro quo with the city of San Diego? Because it creates jobs. It creates opportunities. And it saves a lot of money.
So here’s, um, sustainability, you know, energy efficiency, new forms of powering our homes. Uh, I have been moving forward. I chair the community on the environment. And I’ve been on top of this issue.
So first of all, let me talk about water. Because the governor just announced that there’s a drought, uh, in the state of California.
And so, for us, that is really significant. Because we are at the end of a pipeline. The water comes here, comes from somewhere else. It comes from Northern California. It comes through the central Valley, and the Colorado River.
And so, we, one of the things that I’ve been pushing forward is, instead of taking all our water that we, that we pump out into the ocean,
that once we use it, we throw it out to the ocean, it contaminates the ocean. We should recapture the water. And we should re-use the water. And we’ve got the technology, the science behind to prove that that works. It makes us more self-reliable.
Second, on renewable, and particularly on solar. So Grid Alternatives is one of those organizations that are providing, making sure that people who maybe not have the income to afford a solar they actually go into the homes, and they build it for them. So I’ve been big on that. I’ve been pushing that forward.
I met yesterday with a group of, of individuals talking about solar. And one of the initiatives that I’m contemplating, and that I hope I bring you into, is the idea of requiring solar on all new construction. That, the reason why solar is so important, yes, it’s good on the environment. But it’s even been on the economy, because those jobs can’t go anywhere else. You’ve got to hire a skilled work force that is trained locally, that works locally, that goes and builds, uh, those, those solar panels and installs them on the roofs or, uh, parking lots or wherever we’re putting in.
We are the solar capital of the world, but uh, the country. But we only have 1% solar. It’s not good enough. And if we move forward with this bold idea to actually put solar on all new construction, imagine the jobs that could come from that. Imagine the good we do to our environment. And imagine, uh, the economic output that could come out of that.
So I’m looking for ideas like that and for people like you to partner with me on that. And I do have the support of mayor Todd Gloria
who does have an aggressive climate action plan. It’s actually part of my ballet statement, you all received in the mail. I talk about how we have to address climate change through an aggressive climate action plan. We’re on the same page on that. So that hopefully there is no change again on that when I become mayor.
I’ve got a question for you
I’ll do one more. Yeah,
Okay, um. At the Dignity Awards yesterday at the Town and Country, there was two speakers that got up and was very significant. Was Miss Jewel who spoke about when we go vote, we got to hold our politicians and elected officials accountable, right? And they also have to be accountable.
Which leads into our second part, which is, our school superintendent there is a plan to stop the pipeline to the prisons. And it’s through the schools.
So will you, as mayor, work with our school superintendent to stop that pipeline to prisons. Because she said there is an answer, and it just hasn’t been implemented.
Absolutely, and I’m the only candidate that has a plan on my website that is very specific about how we do that. How we partner with our schools so that our young people have opportunities and pathways that don’t lead to prison.
It’s very, very outlined, I want to reach a minimum of 10,000 internships. So that people, young people from everywhere in San Diego have access to, to uh, career pathways, so they can learn, so that they can see if it’s the right thing for them, the right fit for them. Uh, and they have build those skill set.
So that’s very much in my plan. I definitely want to partner and will be partnering with the school superintendent.
Second, on the issue of accountability of elected officials. Yes. So, I come from a district that people don’t vote too much. So what I did when I ran for city council, is I actually boosted the voter turn out. And what I’ve done as a council member is, I continue to go out, myself and my stuff, into the community, walking door to door, not for votes, but to tell people that we exist and that we’re there to serve them. I want to build a culture in city hall of public service. Of people who respond to the needs of the community members, that people work at city respond to the needs of the community members.
And so what we’ve done is we walk door to door. I have my interns, I have my staff walk, and say “we’re here to serve you, what do you need any help with”?. And that’s they type of culture I want to build in city hall. And that’s how we hold elected officials accountable. Elected officials are, want to be lazy. They don’t want to be held accountable. They’d rather just get re-elected. So they try not to increase participation. From my standpoint, I want to increase participation because that helps us do more. It helps us be a more active city, think of more ideas, do more things. And so that’s why I want to engage more people. It will help me be more accountable, for sure. But it will help the community grow in many other ways.
As you seek our support in the change of leadership for the city of San Diego, um, I would like to humbly ask your support in promoting the change of leadership in this community. Because as I look at the other opponent, there’s old leadership standing behind him. And, not only did the old leadership not work in the city of San Diego. It’s not working in this community. So I’d like your commitment that, you know, you would an open door policy, to new visions, new ideas, and new things coming along, and not bow down to the pastors of this community who don’t run nothing but their own mind. They don’t run their congregation. And so that’s one of the commitments that I’d like to see. Would you be willing to look at new leadership in our community so that we can grow as the city of San Diego grows?
Yeah, absolutely, and we’ll need it. And I’m not here asking just for your support on this campaign. I’m serious when I say I’m going to look to you beyond that, when I get elected mayor. And we are going to have to change the culture. Because the good old boys of downtown go to the good old boys of every single community. And it’s the same people all the time. And so I’m looking for new peop, new soldiers who want to go with me into this. ‘Cause we’re going to have some fights ahead of us.
The establishment is not going to want to see some of these changes that are coming when I become mayor. So I’m gonna need you to have my back when I become mayor, ’cause I’m gonna have your back.
Real quick. Just one question. I’ve got a friend of mine, Miles Martin here, who’s a product designer and developer. And they’re patented. And he’s developed two of the greatest projects I’ve ever seen. And we have a lot of talented people. He’s a part of the Black Product Project here in San Diego, and no one’s every heard of it. But they’re not getting the visibility. How can we help these type of guys to have products that can be developed and create jobs here in San Diego? What can you do to these small business that need help getting their products, seen, bought, and developed, not by this community but by San Diego as a whole? And bringing jobs to San Diego?
Right, and you’re part of the innovative economy which is the future economy of San Diego. Where you produce products that actually can be build and actually and create jobs. Not just software or apps, like Silicon Valley has. Which, you know, they’re successful. We want to be successful in our own way. And, uh, just like you, I want you to know that, there are other individuals who have approached me and said, “we want to be part of this. We’ve got the, we’ve got the, the folks who work in the innovative economy who produce some of these support systems. I want to make sure that they open up the doors for everyone. Right now the doors are only open for a few.
But we got talented people, skillful people like yourself who are looking to break in. And I hope to be one that opens the door for you.
And I’d like to tell you,, really quickly, um The Black Product Project, what we are interested in doing is selling our product, um, for the community. We interested in giving 25 – 50% of our profits back to the community so other entrepreneurs can start their businesses. When you become mayor, I hope your door is open so we can come and talk to you.
I want to make you be real successful, so you can give more money to the community.
I have to get going, right?
Alright, I want to wrap this Shop Talk session up. We are looking at our next mayor. I want to say something special, you know. As a progressive, young grassroots organization, president for 100 strong, we work diligently in the community, we work hard, and we feel that that same type of leadership is going to be passed down through this man right here. We actually want this man to do the work that he said he’s going to do.
Last time he shook my hand, and told me that, if we know on the door for some serious, serious stuff involving this community, that he’d, uh, open it. That’s right. And the things about it is, we are the new vision, we are the new visionaries. And we have younger people comin’ up, and we want to make things right.
I want to let everyone know and with the followers in which we have and everything that we do, we are endorsing this gentleman right here. I think it is our civil duty to get out there and vote. So everybody get out there and vote. If you’re not registered, I will be having voter registration stuff going on down here.
I just want to tell you the other…