All across the nation, the increase in town hall meetings’ attendance is rising rapidly. A town hall meeting is an event hosted by elected officials to help establish a sense of communication between the government and its constituents.
Fortunately, in the United States, citizens have the opportunity to attend meetings that are arranged by their elected officials in various ways and different settings. Whether it is a telephone town hall, a meeting for coffee, or a large group conference to get questions answered, each situation is vital to ensure that the government is working for the needs of its people.
Mayor Bailey did just that, this Wednesday evening (November 8, 2017), he invited residents of the Coronado Cays to come to the local eatery, Calypso Café, and hear an update on crucial issues concerning Coronado and those who reside in the secluded, but not forgotten Cays.
From the beginning, Mayor Bailey wanted everyone attending the meeting to understand that the Cays is a key player in what happens in the City of Coronado.
“One of the messages I heard when I was running for City Council in 2012 and when I was campaigning for Mayor, is that there were some Cays residents that felt, in the past, isolated from the Village. Some Cays residents have felt that they haven’t necessarily received the representation that they deserve. I wanted to make it clear that as Mayor, I want to represent the entire community.”
Mayor Bailey gave an informative overview on what is transpiring within SANDAG, an association of local San Diego County governments. It is the metropolitan planning organization for the county, with policy makers consisting of mayors (Mayor Bailey is one of those representatives), councilmembers, and county supervisors, and also has capital planning and fare setting powers for the county’s transit systems, the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System and North County Transit District, some of which was assumed by the Metropolitan Transit Development Board.
Mayor Bailey exclaimed, “It turns out that they had their revenue forecast wrong. In short, SANDAG has a track record of over-promising and under-delivering. They were off by four to five billion dollars in their projected revenue costs, there is an investigation that has been launched and the executive director was forced to step down.
In 2016 SANDAG asked voters to fund a list of transportation projects in exchange for a 40-year, 1/2 cent sales tax increase. It turns out the agency now has a shortfall of $17 and a half billion dollars, this can be a big issue and will affect our entire region. As your representative to the board, my plan to you is to stay on top of that and prioritize the movement of goods and people over political correctness.” The meeting continued in an orderly and professional fashion.
One Cays resident asked about possible solutions to the traffic commute between the Cays and the Village of Coronado:
“In the event that the traffic does not die down after November, is there another plan in place to rectify the situation? In regards to the new entrance that is south of the Cays, do we expect the northbound traffic to diminish?”
Mayor Bailey replied, “Although it may not feel like it, the intersection is fully optimized. There is so much throughput occurring now, even more so than when human traffic controllers were operating the intersection, that we are starting to experience backups from the RH Dana and Glorietta intersections. So even if we could improve the signal efficiency even more, there would be nowhere else for the cars to go; you would be stuck at a greenlight. So although at this point there is no ‘plan b’, we are cautiously optimistic that the traffic will once again subside like it always has in a week or so. We are committed to the Coronado residents and we know the investments we have made in this intersection benefit the residents of Imperial Beach, Chula Vista and the San Diego area that travel northbound on the Strand. We believe a lot of that northbound traffic will divert to the Costal Community Campus (currently being built for the Navy). A lot of the traffic congestion will be relocating from the amphibious base to the newly developed coastal campus.”
The town hall meeting was an informal and inviting way to hear the Cays residents’ concerns. It is positive to see and hear that Mayor Bailey wants to resolve these on-going issues as quickly and efficiently as possible, but he also has a realistic understanding that things are not going to get done overnight. Hopefully those attending the meeting understand that as well.
Government entities, as Mayor Bailey pointed out, are obstacles that are putting a hold on present and future projects.
For example, the city would like to install a pump to prevent flooding at the underpass in front of the Cays entrance that would be utilized during or after a rain storm. Caltrans has informed the city that they are “on it” but have not made any recent efforts to improve our potential flooding predicament. Caltrans also had concerns about the environmental implications it could have on plants, vegetation and the rain water itself. This is in the very least, frustrating and incomprehensible to hear. Moans and groans were emanating in different parts of the café in response to Bailey’s information concerning the rain/flooding efforts. We (the City of Coronado) have $175,000 set aside for flood/pumping equipment to solve this issue, but without Caltrans approval, we cannot move forward with said plans.
The meeting overall was productive and informative on all topics concerning Coronado and the Coronado Cays… local commute, traffic congestion, paving of streets, environmental concerns and lastly, where and how our taxes are being spent.
I think it is important to keep in mind that the elected officials who represent us (Mayor Bailey and City Council) have a responsibility to work for the needs of their constituents. This long-standing tradition should continue to be utilized by Americans who want to spread their knowledge and influence to representatives. There is no better communication than personal contact, especially when it comes to our government.
This idea extends way beyond partisan politics. If there is an issue that is concerning you or that you would like more information on, attend a town hall or a city council meeting and express your thoughts. Every person has the right to have open communication with the person voting on their behalf. The beginning of change happens locally. Don’t wait another day to speak out about what you care about.