Guest column: City of San Diego’s 2022 budget highlights – The San Diego Union-Tribune

The State of California has fully reopened just in time for summer in San Diego! While we are not out of the woods yet, San Diego County is leading in the vaccine roll out as we are on track to hit 75 percent of our population fully vaccinated later this month. As always, my office is here to help with questions about vaccines, small business support and rent relief for landlords and renters who were unemployed during the pandemic.

San Diego City Councilwoman Marni von Wilpert

San Diego City Councilwoman Marni von Wilpert

(Courtesy photo)

In response to my request last month, the San Diego Police Department released a report on the proliferation of ghost guns in San Diego. The report showed a sharp increase in the number of ghost guns on our streets, and it’s clear the time to act is now to protect our communities from the spread of unserialized, untraceable firearms. Read the report at

I am working with the City Attorney to quickly bring forward an ordinance to close this loophole and keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals. We must continue to do everything possible to protect our neighborhoods from the epidemic of gun violence.

Last month, the City Council unanimously approved the fiscal year 2022 budget. While I wish there was more funding allocated for infrastructure projects for this upcoming year, I am proud of what we are able to include to ensure public safety, help communities thrive and make sure our city recovers from the pandemic.

Some of what is included:

• Additional Fire-Rescue Department helicopter: Given the current state of climate change-driven wildfires in California, the city must remain vigilant in our efforts to reduce the fire dangers that our communities face. To ensure the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department is adequately equipped to respond to fires and emergencies, I requested that funding be provided to activate the additional fire helicopter for fiscal year 2022.

• Additional deputy city attorney for the Gun Violence Restraining Order program: Since the San Diego City Attorney’s Office launched California’s pioneering GVRO program in December 2017, the office has removed more than 900 guns from dangerous situations. GVROs have been used to remove guns from situations involving threats of suicide, domestic violence and mass shootings at schools, hospitals and workplaces.

Effective gun violence prevention is an essential measure of public safety. I requested that funding be made available to hire an additional deputy city attorney within the City Attorney’s office to support the program. This position will ensure the city can respond quickly and effectively to threats of violence involving firearms.

• Street condition assessment study: I advocated to fully fund the city’s Infrastructure Fund but unfortunately, I was the lone vote to go against overriding the Proposition H infrastructure fund contribution passed in 2016. I was the sole dissenting vote because I believe it is our responsibility to ensure that the city is carrying out what voters passed in Prop. H and we desperately need to invest in our city’s infrastructure now.

However, I successfully advocated to include funding for a street condition assessment study. The city spends tens of millions of dollars per year on street maintenance based on an outdated street condition assessment completed in 2015. It is crucial we include funding for a new street condition assessment to ensure current and accurate data is used to guide this essential city service. This data is also important for the City Council and residents to ensure the city is utilizing its resources wisely and tracking the progress and effectiveness of the city’s streets program.

• Public power options study: The city must prioritize funding a municipalization study for gas and electric services now to better position the city in the future. This study will be funded using the bid payment from the SDG&E Franchise Fee.

• Transportation Department weed abatement funding: Weed abatement is an important maintenance activity that provides both aesthetic and safety benefits. The weed abatement program goes hand-in-hand with our brush management efforts to reduce the risk of wildfires ignited by vehicles. The weed abatement along streets in high fire risk communities, such as the San Pasqual Valley, or along wildfire evacuation routes are critical to public safety. I requested the weed abatement contract be fully funded and priority be given to wildfire evacuation routes and high fire risk streets across the city.

Von Wilpert has represented District 5 on the San Diego City Council since December 2020. The district includes Rancho Bernardo.