‘About all of you’: Joe LaCava listens to constituents’ concerns

With the top concerns being budget shortfalls and safety issues, residents brought forth their questions to San Diego City Council President Pro Tem Joe LaCava’s final 2024 District 1 Town Hall in La Jolla March 26.

LaCava, whose district includes La Jolla, enjoys the town hall format away from a “State of the District” platform as “town halls are all about you,” he said, opening the session to constituent questions.

“I made a commitment when I ran for office … that my job is really connected with you all,” he said. “I can’t do that unless I hear what your issues are, your concerns are.”

Budget issues

As the city of San Diego is predicted to have a $150 million shortfall in next year’s budget, “we’re going to make some very, very difficult decisions out of a roughly $2 billion budget,” LaCava said.

The significant shortfall is due to the existence of a deficit for quite a few years, he said, with federal funding to cover the gap the last three or four years drying up. 

“It’s now come home to roost,” LaCava said.

“We have a lot of wasted spending downtown,” La Jolla resident Catharine Douglass said. “What can we do to help you?”

LaCava asked residents to weigh in with their budget priorities before the mayor releases his proposed budget April 15. 

Joe LaCava stands at the front of the room at podium addressing the community at the district 1 town hall

“Participate early, get your message to us now,” LaCava said. “The further we get into the cycle, the harder it is to introduce new ideas or to balance competing interests.”

As the city is “primarily a service organization, [delivering] services to you through our roughly 12,000 employees,” LaCava said, “What do you want me to fight for?”

Those in La Jolla should reach out to LaCava’s representative for the community, Emily Lynch, to make their requests known, or communicate through the various community groups such as the La Jolla Town Council and Bird Rock Community Council.

After the mayor proposes his budget, the City Council will schedule budget review committee meetings.

Calling a figure of $400 million spent on bike lanes in San Diego “excessive,” La Jollan Japhet Perez Estrada said “I’d rather the money be spent on the roads and … infrastructure.”

LaCava did not confirm the $400 million, saying “the city of San Diego does not spend that kind of money on bike lanes at all. What we spend money on is that white striping out there – that’s all we can afford. We resurface the road, … we throw some paint down.”

“I wish we had 400 million because I would allocate it out to use it for more appropriate things,” he said.

LaCava emphasized he’s “really tried to rally against” what he called the city’s “performative” actions. 

A safe community

After a Town Hall attendee asked for the Councilmember’s definition of a “safe community,” LaCava indicated “a safe city is one where people are comfortable being in their home, being in their place of work and moving about in their city and a city that sees crime on the decline.”

And though he is proud that “San Diego is the safest big city in the country,” LaCava said, “we can always do better, we can always be safer. We can always respond to any concerns anybody has.”

Safety is “a constant battle and that’s why I’m very proud of our police force,” he said. “They’ve done a very good job.”

“Everything is dynamic, and we need to be cognizant of that,” LaCava said in closing the one-hour meeting. “Whatever I say up here, look at what I do.”

To stay updated on when the next District 1 town hall event, subscribe to get updates from Joe LaCava’s office here.

Picture of Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto has been reporting on and writing about La Jolla since 2019. With dozens of local and state journalism awards to her name, Elisabeth knows the industry as well as she knows her community. When she’s not covering all things 92037, you’ll find her with coffee in hand staring at the sea.
Picture of Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto has been reporting on and writing about La Jolla since 2019. With dozens of local and state journalism awards to her name, Elisabeth knows the industry as well as she knows her community. When she’s not covering all things 92037, you’ll find her with coffee in hand staring at the sea.

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