First Look at Bob Filner’s Healthy San Diego Plan

Mayoral Candidate Bob Filner

Mayoral candidate and current Congressman, Bob Filner, is currently tied at second place at the polls with another mayoral candidate, Assemblymember Nathan Fletcher.

Perhaps in an attempt to break the tie and capture the vote of what KPBS is calling the “bike contingent”, Filner just released his draft Healthy San Diego Plan[pdf] which was posted at the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition’s website. The plan details Filner’s vision for a healthier San Diego and how he, as mayor will ensure that San Diegans have access to bikeable and walkable communities.

How will Filner ensure this? In a series of bullet points, Filner first lists the city’s natural assets followed by another series of bullet points on how he will tap into those assets in order make San Diego healthier. One of the bullet points lists San Diego’s high fatality rate of bicycle riders in comparison with the state and, Mission Valley’s over-development.

So how does the mayoral candidate intend to create bikeable communities?

Filner states that because of the Complete Streets Act, the Regional Bike Plan and the City’s Bicycle Master Plan, he lists how he, as next mayor, intends to implement these plans. He will do so by,

ensuring that the following will becentral (sic) component of any new neighborhood infrastructure projects:
-­ bike lanes
-­ shared lane markings/sharrows
-­ Greenways
-­ roundabouts and other traffic calming tools
-­ bike parking facilities, like the Bike Corral opening in North Park

Filner states that the timelines stated in the bike plans should be used as conservative baselines, “San Diegans shouldn’t have to wait for forty years for a comprehensive regional bike network.” Additionally, Filner intends to be an outspoken advocate for bike projects before “SANDAG, the County Board of Supervisors, the Port District, and the City Council, to ensure other regional leaders keep their commitment to increased bike transit.”

One of the biggest changes Filner intends to implement, if elected mayor, is creating a new City Department, APLUS, that will replace the current Department of Development Services. APLUS stands for the “Agency for Prosperity, Livability, and Urban Sustainability”  and  this new department will be “charged with executing a citywide plan to make biking viable for all San Diegans”.

How does the mayoral candidate intend to fund the creation of these bikeable communities? By using existing and new sources of state and federal revenue:

TEA-­21 (Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century)
AB 434 state funds for clean air transit projects
AB 2766 Clean air dollars from automobile registration surcharges
AB1475 Safe Routes to School state matching funds.

Two other key points of the biking component of Filner’s plan include creation of a bike share system and a Ciclovia, cleverly called “CicloSDia”.

Overall impression

Not unlike another plan that Filner had promised almost a year before he finally released his own, this plan comes almost nine months after he and his staff promised to address this issue in a tangible manner. The draft Healthy San Diego plan reads like a plan that was hastily put together, evidenced by all the grammar errors and other typos and reads as though parts of it were copied from Fletcher’s own plan. One key difference is that Filner addresses the needs of pedestrians, although in a vague manner – but acknowledges their role in getting San Diego healthier. There was one bullet point that gave me pause. Filner’s plan discusses a successful bike share program in San Francisco. This is odd considering that the program is scheduled to be launched this summer.

Overall, the ideas contained within the plan was a good start. The funding opportunities that Filner intends to pursue was original and creative as it taps into revenue streams not currently pursued. However, I was unable to overlook the general sloppiness of the plan despite it being a “draft” plan, especially as it was released by someone seeking to hold one of the most powerful positions in the city, the Office of the Mayor.

Edit: I neglected to look deeply into the funding sources that Filner sought to target. Thanks to a tip from Jessica Roberts, a bicycle and pedestrian planner from Portland, OR, I learned that TEA-21 expired in September 2003.

To read more about the 2012 Mayoral election and where the candidates stand on other issues besides non-motorized transportation, read the Voice of San Diego’s excellent coverage on the subject.