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Tony Young loves Nathan Fletcher’s work

October 26, 2010 - 5:55 pm

Tony Young (left) chats with Nick, owner of Pay-Low supermarket.

When news broke that the state Legislature had passed Assemblymember Nathan Fletcher’s bill to extend the life of redevelopment in Downtown San Diego, some city leaders, such as Donna Frye and Marti Emerald, were furious. Others, like Todd Gloria and Kevin Faulconer, were not happy with the way in happened but didn’t want to rock the boat too much. Then, amid much hand-wringing and criticism, the dudes behind the effort—Fletcher, Mayor Jerry Sanders and redevelopment honcho Fred Maas—said it was the right thing to do, but they regretted the messiness of it.

Well, District 4 City Councilmember Tony Young doesn’t belong in any of those factions. Count him among those who are thrilled not only with the result of Fletcher’s bill but also with the way it went down.

“You better believe it,” he told me. “Absolutely.”

Young and I talked while he gave me a tour of his district. Months ago, CityBeat had referred to District 4 as “impoverished,” and Young wanted to show me how inaccurate that word is in describing the area.

He talked a lot about what a struggle is convincing developers and businesses to invest in District 4. He believes his district suffers only from an image problem, one in which gang violence and poverty are prominent. He told me that economically, his district is similar to Donna Frye’s District 6 (Clairemont, Mission Valley, Kearny Mesa, etc.) and that violence is way down.

Meanwhile, his constituents either have to shop in small markets with low-quality products or shop outside the district. We even walked through a Pay-Low supermarket and poked meat packages and checked expiration dates. While there, Young chided Nick, the store owner about possible illegal signage and the latter’s desire to get a liquor license. Yeah, that’s what this area needs, Young remarked facetiously.

Young—who said he’d like to be the next City Council president and has to be considered the favorite—makes no distinction regarding the types of businesses he’d like to attract, independently owned or large chains. He wants them all, he said.

And he has no problem with developers profiting from redevelopment as long as it means more commerce is happening and more people are working.

He plans to advocate for the Southeastern Economic Development Corporation, which administers redevelopment in his district, when it comes to negotiations over where tax revenue from Downtown redevelopment will be spent. He argues that because his district has three trolley stops that connect to Downtown, SEDC has right to make a claim for some funding.

“I believe that any of the money that we get from raising the cap can support transit-oriented developments like [Market Creek Plaza],” he said.

He’d also like some of it to finance affordable housing in his district and updated community plans for his neighborhoods.

Unlike others, he needs no apologies from Sanders, Fletcher and Maas.

“We’re a big city, and sometimes you’re gonna have to make those types of power moves,” he said. That the move saved the city $500,000 for a Downtown redevelopment study was icing on the cake.

“It’s the kind of stuff that San Francisco and Los Angeles do to us all the time,” he said of Fletcher’s bill. “I believe is was great for San Diego.”

Critics have complained that communities outside of Downtown will get the shaft. Young says they’ll benefit through increased sales and hotel taxes. Critics have noted that the state will have to backfill revenue that local schools will lose. “Where are the parents of those kids going to work?” he asked rhetorically.

You can quibble with the points he makes, but at Tony Young knows what he likes when he sees it, and he isn’t ashamed to say it.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 26, 2010 - 10:45 pm 10:45 pm

    San Diego lincoln Club has has thrown some weight behind Tony and their membership officer is working on his campaign. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a little backwater town in Texas.As someone once said” You Got to Dance with Them What Brung You “

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