San Diego, California

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San Diego, California
Seal of San Diego, California.svg
General information
Kevin Faulconer.jpg
Mayor:Kevin Faulconer
Last mayoral election:2014
Next mayoral election:2016
Last city council election:2014
Next city council election:2016
City council seats:9
2015 FY Budget:$3.0 billion
City website
Composition data
Population in 2013:1.33 million
Gender:49.5% Female
Race:White 58.9%
White Not-Hispanic 45.1%
African American 6.7%
Asian 15.9%
Native American 0.6%
Pacific Islander 0.5%
Two or More 5.1%
Ethnicity:Hispanic 28.8%
Median household income:$63,990
High school graduation rate:86.6%
College graduation rate:41.4%
Related San Diego offices
California Congressional Delegation
California State Legislature
California state executive offices
San Diego is the ninth-largest city in the United States and second-largest city in California, after Los Angeles. San Diego the county seat of San Diego County. Its administrative limit covers a land area of 372.1 square miles (963.7 km2). The city is located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California.

According to Forbes magazine, San Diego was the fifth-wealthiest city in the United States in 2005, and the 9th safest city on the top 10 list of safest cities in the U.S. in 2010.[1][2]

City government

See also: Mayor-council government

The city of San Diego utilizes a "strong mayor" and city council system. In this form of municipal government, the city council serves as the city's primary legislative body while the mayor serves as the city's chief executive.[3]


The mayor serves as the city's chief executive officer and is responsible for proposing a budget, signing legislation into law, appointing departmental directors and overseeing the city's day-to-day operations. The mayor also represents the city on the state, national and international levels.[4] Kevin Faulconer is the current Mayor of San Diego.[5]

City council

The San Diego City Council is the city's primary legislative body. It is responsible for adopting the city budget, approving mayoral appointees, levying taxes and making or amending city laws, policies and ordinances.[6][7]


The San Diego City Council is made up of nine members, each of whom is elected by the city's nine districts seen on the map below.

A current list of council members can be found here.


Council committees

The San Diego City Council features seven standing committees, which focus on individual policy and legislative issues. Generally, the drafting of city legislation begins with the committees.[8]

A current list of San Diego City Council committees can be found here.

Boards and commissions

A series of advisory boards and commissions that are made up of non-elected citizens, whom city council members have appointed and approved, advises the San Diego City Council. The roles of these boards and commissions are to review, debate and comment upon city policies and legislation and to make recommendations to the city council.[9]

For a full list of San Diego city boards and commissions, see here.



See also: San Diego, California municipal elections, 2014.

The city of San Diego, California held nonpartisan elections for mayor and city council in 2014. A runoff election for mayor took place on February 11, 2014. Kevin Faulconer was the winner.[10]

In city council, four seats were up for election. A primary election for these seats took place on June 3, 2014. In Districts 2, 4 and 8, the primary winners received a majority of the votes and did not have to run in the general election on November 4. District 6 was the only San Diego council race that remained to be decided in the November 4 general election.[11]


The city's budget process operates by Fiscal Years running from July 1 to June 30 of the next year. The budget process begins with the council passing a Budget Priorities Resolution. Next, the Mayor, COO and CFO develop a budget proposal by working with city departments. The council then holds public budget hearings and committee meetings, while making amendments as necessary. The final budget is passed in June. The city is required by state law to maintain a balanced budget.[12]


The adopted budget for fiscal year 2015 totals $3.0 billion. It includes new funding for municipal infrastructure, public safety and neighborhood development projects.[13]


The adopted budget for fiscal year 2014 totaled $2.8 billion. It included infrastructure improvements, a new Computer Aided Dispatch System, police retention and additional hourly life guards.[14]

Contact information

Office of the City Clerk
202 C Street, 2nd Floor
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-533-4000
Office Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M.

Office of the Mayor
202 C Street, 11th Floor
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-236-6330


In 2013, San Diego's federal lobbying related expenses amounted to approximately $50,000. The issues for which the city filed in 2013, as well as the number of reports, can be seen in the box below.[15] The issues column lists the generic issues that lobbyists working for local governments are required by law to disclose on quarterly federal disclosure forms.[16][17] The reports column gives the number of reports lobbyists filed in regards to each generic issue. To learn more about the details of the specific issues for which San Diego filed reports, read the federal disclosure forms by clicking the "Issues" links in the box below. San Diego maintains a list of all registered lobbyists associated with the city. It is available on the City Clerk's website.

Federal Lobbying Issues, 2013
Reports Issues
1 Fed Budget & Appropriations
1 Taxes
1 Urban Development

Ballot measures

See also: San Diego County, California ballot measures

The city of San Diego is in San Diego County. A list of ballot measures in San Diego County is available San Diego County, California ballot measures.

Initiative process

See also: Laws governing local ballot measures in California

Population as of the July 2011 census update: 1,326,179.[18] San Diego is a charter city.

San Diego has its own initiative process for charter amendments and ordinances determined by the city charter. There are no specific subject matter restrictions for petitions. Signature requirements are 3% of the registered voters of the city at the last general city election for presentation to the legislature and 10% for the ballot. Circulators must wait 21 days after publication of intention to circulate and must turn in petitions 180 days after said publication. Circulators may be either paid or volunteer, but they must be a U.S. citizen and at least 18 years of age. The city code determines the format of the petition. The pre-approval process includes registration and publication in a newspaper of the intention to circulate. If 3% sign, then the petition goes to the legislature for passage. If at least 10% sign, then it proceeds to the ballot. A simple majority determines the outcome of the election.

The San Diego City Charter San Diego Municipal Code

Issues in the city

Football stadium

See also: City of Carson Raiders and Chargers Professional Football Stadium Zoning Initiative (2015)

In Spring 2015, rumors emerged that the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders were preparing to leave their current stadiums to share a $1.7 billion stadium in Carson, California, which is in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The team current plays in Qualcomm Stadium, which was funded jointly by the city and county in 1964. Those involved in a new stadium proposal to keep the team in the area noted that such a joint effort would be beneficial again, since the county has a triple-A credit rating and hundreds of millions of dollars in cash reserves. Diane Jacob, a county supervisor, said of any potential deal, "If county government puts skin into the game, we must make sure that any agreement with the Chargers is a good deal for taxpayers. And that's my bottom line."[19]

Dean Spanos, President of the Chargers, has stated publicly that the team would prefer to remain in the city. Mayor Kevin Faulconer has promised that any proposed stadium deal would go before voters in the city, even if such a vote was not mandated by law.[20]

Whistle blower

A Firefighter was awarded $424,000 in 2010 after winning a lawsuit that proved he was fired in retaliation for reporting corrupt behavior within the department. The fire fighter, Paul Vandeveld, was suspended after trying to stop harassment of a colleague who helped reveal the city's pension scandal.[21]

Transparency and public records

In 2006, San Diego was sanctioned by the Securities and Exchange Commission for failing to alert investors about its pension and health plan obligations. Since then, the city has earned praise for its turnaround on transparency as it relates to the issuance of municipal bonds.[22]

Public pensions

See also: California public pensions

City employees can contribute to a Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP), which allows them to place city pensions into a special account with guaranteed interest during the last five years of employment.[23] A recent report by CFFR revealed that the top ten pension pays will cost taxpayers $61 million.[24] The report also showed that public officials in San Diego contribute only 8 percent to their pension plans, as opposed to the traditional 23 percent.

Another aspect of the pensions are sick day buyouts, with the highest one being $118,605. The benefit cost the city $2.5 million from 2007 to 2011.[25] The city also awarded $73.5 million in pension bonuses from 1984 to 2011, with the highest payout being $$299,000.[26]

Mayor Jerry Sanders proposed mandating that new employees be signed on to a 401k like pension instead of the previous city plan. The city proposed this to save costs as it faced a $72 million budget gap and $2.1 billion in unfunded pension liability. As a result of the budget gap, the city was forced to layoff 1,400 of its 11,000 employees.[27]

Ballot initiative

See also: San Diego Pension Reform Initiative, Proposition B (June 2012)

A pension initiative was approved by two-thirds of voters on the June 2012 ballot to eliminate guaranteed pensions for most new city hires and give them a 401(k)-style plan instead. The measure imposed a six-year freeze on pay levels used to determine pension benefits unless a two-thirds majority of the City Council votes to override it. It also puts new hires, except for police officers, into 401(k)-style plans.[28][29]

Website evaluation

See also: Evaluation of California city websites
Elected Officials
Administrative Officials
Permits, zoning
Lobbying P
Public Records
Local Taxes

School district websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process

In 2011 San Diego earned a Sunny Awards for having a perfect website transparency score.

The good

  • Budget
    • The proposed budget is posted.[30]
    • Final adopted budget is posted.[31]
    • Budgets are archived to 2005 on adopted budget page.
    • Five year financial outlook for the city is posted.[32]
  • Audits
    • Audit reports for most recent fiscal year are posted.[33]
    • Planned audits are posted.
    • Audits are archived to 2008.[34]
  • Elected officials
    • Contact information for the mayor[35] is posted.
    • Contact information for city council members is available.[36]
  • Meetings
    • City Council agendas and minutes are available. Documents for City Council committee meeting are also posted.[37][38]
    • Council documents are archived to 1971.[39]
  • Administration
    • Contact information is available for administrative staff.[40]
  • Planning information, including Official Zoning maps, is available through the Development Services Department. Specific zoning information is available on request.[41]
  • Contracts
    • Bids and contracts are available for download in the Purchasing Department.[42]
    • City contract lists are archived for three years.
    • Bid tabulations are posted.[43]
  • Taxes
    • Information on local taxes and fees are posted.[44][45]
  • Lobbyist
    • Information regarding current and past registered lobbyists, as well as lobbying requirements, is available.[46]
  • Public records
    • Public Record Act request information is available.[47]

The bad

  • Lobbying
    • Membership and fees paid to any taxpayer funded lobbying associations is not disclosed.

See also

Suggest a link

External links


  1. Forbes, "Richest Cities In The U.S.," October 28, 2005
  2. Forbes, "America's Safest Cities," October 11, 2010
  3. San Diego City Charter, Art. XV 250-295, accessed on October 29, 2014
  4. San Diego City Charter, Art. V 24-25, accessed on October 29, 2014
  5. City of San Diego, "Office of the Mayor," accessed on October 29, 2014
  6. San Diego City Charter, Art. III 11-23, accessed on October 29, 2014
  7. City of San Diego, "City Council," accessed on October 29, 2014
  8. City of San Diego, "Committees," accessed on October 29, 2014
  9. City of San Diego, "Boards and Commissions," accessed on October 29, 2014
  10. U-T San Diego, "Faulconer wins mayor's race," February 11, 2014
  11. The City of San Diego, "June 3, 2014 Primary Election," accessed March 10, 2014
  12. City of San Diego, "A Citizen's Guide to the City's Budget Process & the FY 2014 Adopted Budget," accessed June 6, 2014
  13. City of San Diego, "Fiscal Year 2015 Adopted Budget," accessed on February 6, 2015
  14. City of San Diego, "Fiscal Year 2014 Adopted Budget," accessed on February 6, 2015
  15. Open Secrets, "City of San Diego, CA," accessed June 6, 2014
  16. U.S. House of Representatives: Office of the Clerk, "Lobbying Disclosure Act Guidance," accessed on November 11, 2014
  17. Open Secrets, "Methodology," accessed on November 11, 2014
  18. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named census
  19. ABC 30, "City, county unite to keep Chargers," April 2, 2015
  20. Los Angeles Times, "San Diego officials willing to put stadium deal before voters," March 26, 2015
  21. Sigon San Diego, "San Diego firefighter wins $424,000 from city in court," December 20, 2010
  22. San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego praised for transparency on muni bonds," March 29, 2011
  23. Signon San Diego, "City pensions are higher with DROP," September 29, 2010
  24. CFFR, "10 former San Diego city employees will split $61 million in pensions," October 4, 2010 (dead link)
  25. Signons San Diego, "County payouts for sick leave: $2.5 million," February 15, 2011
  26. Sigon San Diego, "‘13th check’ pension payouts: $73 million," February 17, 2011
  27. Business Week, "San Diego's Tough-Love Pension Proposal," December 9, 2010
  28. San Diego Union Tribune, "Ballot measure aims to revamp pension system," March 24, 2011
  29. Rancho Bernardo Patch, "Pension Reform Measure Officially on June Ballot," January 30, 2012
  30. City of San Diego, "Proposed Budget," accessed August 6, 2014
  31. City of San Diego, "Adopted Budget," accessed August 6, 2014
  32. City of San Diego, "Financial Outlook," accessed August 6, 2014
  33. City of San Diego, "Audit," accessed August 6, 2014
  34. City of San Diego, "Audit Archives," accessed August 6, 2014
  35. City of San Diego, "Mayor," accessed August 6, 2014
  36. City of San Diego, "City Council," accessed August 6, 2014
  37. City of San Diego, "City Council Meetings," accessed August 6, 2014
  38. City of San Diego, "City Council Committee Meetings," accessed August 6, 2014
  39. City of San Diego, "Council Archives," accessed August 6, 2014
  40. City of San Diego, "Departments," accessed August 6, 2014
  41. City of San Diego, "Services Department," accessed August 6, 2014
  42. City of San Diego, "Purchasing," accessed August 6, 2014
  43. City of San Diego, "Bid Tabulations," accessed August 6, 2014
  44. City of San Diego, "Taxes and Fees," accessed August 6, 2014
  45. City of San Diego, "Other Taxes and Fees," accessed August 6, 2014
  46. City of San Diego, "Lobbying," accessed August 6, 2014
  47. City of San Diego, "Public Records Request," accessed August 6, 2014