2016 Election: Anthony Bernal on Issues that Matter to BikeSD Supporters in District 3

As you may know, it’s election season again. Our board sent questionaires to candidates running for city council and we will be posting their responses here. First up, Anthony Bernal who is running to replace Councilmember Todd Gloria who currently represents District 3.

Anthony Bernal. Image via Bernal’s website.

1) How do you envision the growth of cycling in San Diego – be it for transportation, recreation, or otherwise? Do you see cycling as a community builder?

I think the growth of cycling begins with the expansion of our bicycle infrastructure throughout the City of San Diego. Part of the reason why I believe that more people do not choose to use a bike when determining how to get around our city is because people are often challenged with the lack of bike infrastructure (bike racks, bike lanes, etc.) and the danger associated with riding a bike minus sufficient bike infrastructure. As a representative of an urban district like District Three and a resident of Downtown myself, I see the desperate need for bike infrastructure that will encourage residents and visitors to go-by-bike and I believe the next City Councilmember for District Three should be a leader in this endeavor. This is a role I am happy to accept and will work with the Mayor to ensure we are taking steps in alignment with our Climate Action Plan goals that introduces more bike infrastructure to District Three. Further, I would work with our partners at SANDAG to investigate additional progress we can make with their support.

2) What steps must be taken to ensure the success of San Diego’s “Vision Zero” goals?

First and foremost we need to make sure the public right of ways are designed to meet mobility needs. When (not if) we get to zero pedestrian deaths in the public right of way, we will know all modes of transportation are respected and accounted for in the design of our public right of way. Pedestrians need to have clear lines of sight when crossing the street, which may include the design of bulb outs. Additionally, slowing vehicle speeds is a high priority for all modes of transportation.

I’m the only candidate in this race who has the actual experience of implementing a Vision Zero street design along 25th Street in Golden Hill. These improvements were a community driven initiative that I helped become a reality. I’m proud of this accomplishment and I’ll continue the progress by incorporating mode share design in new projects.

Another project that I hope will begin in the near future is the North Park University Avenue Mobility Plan. This project is over a decade in the making. Once again, I’m the only candidate who has sat in design meetings, worked with City staff and SANDAG staff to make sure these projects take all modes of transportation into account. As a daily primary pedestrian and your next City Councilmember, I will lead us to Vision Zero. I’ve been there since the beginning and you can count on me to be with you long after we achieve our goal.

3) Given the myriad of competing interests in D3 neighborhoods, how will you handle individuals and groups, alike, whose interests and actions run counter to the City’s transportation and street design goals as laid out in the Climate Action Plan, and Vision Zero initiative?

Part of the job of being an elected City Councilmember is to listen to all sides of a particular issue and then render a decision that will be best for the majority of residents in our district. As a City, we have committed ourselves to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions through our ambitious Climate Action Plan that was formally adopted by the City Council this past year. Having said that, in situations where there are competing interests, I will gladly make myself open and available to hearing all perspectives and then making the decision that gets us closer to achieving our climate action goals and is in the best interest of D3 residents. I’m the only candidate in this race with the experience working with the vast majority of interest groups.

4) Multiple studies have shown that increased bicycle accessibility, is good for local businesses – and that this even holds true when on-street parking is reduced. How can the information gap between advocates and businesses be bridged to advance our common interests of safe, thriving neighborhoods? Further, at which point do you say to those who refuse to engage as responsible and reasonable partners in the community’s progress, that the cycle of arguments must end so we may act for the common good?

I think we have an opportunity to bridge that gap at this critical time with the community plans being updated in Uptown and North Park. I think it’s critical we advocate for a parking garage and bike infrastructure to be included in the Public Facilities Financing Plan and parking meter revenue going forward. This is an opportunity to engage residents, developers, and commercial tenants in the future. I have no problem going against what people think is the norm. That is why I’m running for City Council. I’m that bold voice you will need at City Hall. Once a variety of voices have voiced their concern, I believe it is my duty to take bold action. Our communities will only thrive if we look at them holistically.

5) What (if any) plans and decisions, with respect to increasing cycling accessibility, have been made in the past by government agencies and elected officials that you disagree with? Did you make public that disagreement? And do you see an opportunity, if elected, to reverse it?

I have concerns about SANDAG’s recent proposed Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) and its shortcomings in terms of the City of San Diego achieving its Climate Action Plan goals. I do see opportunities for us to make more traction when the RTP is evaluated again in the next four years. I will tirelessly advocate for SANDAG to consider and implement the goals set forth in the Plan. I will encourage my colleagues in other jurisdictions to adopt similarly ambitious Climate Actions Plans that will ensure regional support of mass transit and active transportation. I made my disagreement with the SANDAG Plan through Hillcrest public on a Voice of San Diego podcast back in June 2015.

I hope to advocate for the full implementation through Hillcrest as a Councilmember.

6) Will you support the implementation of the Downtown Mobility Plan designed by CivicSD, including budgetary requirements for its completion and success?

Yes. If we can’t commit 100% to the Downtown Mobility Plan, then we are destined to fail our residents and small business owners. Once again, I’m the only candidate for City Council who has helped lead our neighborhoods through this process and I have the unique experience that can see this project through completion.

7) If you have one, share a favorite cycling memory – and let us know how it shapes your desire to see safe streets in San Diego for all residents, across generations?

There are so many, but one of my favorites was when I was four years old and my mother would take me to preschool on a bike because she didn’t have a car. If she hadn’t taken me to preschool on that bike, I would not have had that education. That perspective will always be with me as I make decisions for our residents and communities.

Also, I have enjoyed participating in Bike-to-Work Day alongside my boss, Councilmember Todd Gloria, and several other elected officials as well as numerous community members. I always appreciated seeing civic leaders and residents riding down the street in unison to not only get to work and promote biking as a viable transportation mode, but also recommitting ourselves to lessening our environmental footprint and investing in more bicycle infrastructure. It was definitely more fun that driving to work in a car.

8) Finally – If elected, will you commit to meeting with BikeSD representatives on a regular basis to continue the dialog around improving all D3 neighborhoods, and making San Diego the world’s greatest city for cycling?

Absolutely, I value the perspective of BikeSD and I know there is much more for me to learn, so I would certainly rely on the expertise of this organization to help develop transportation modes that are worthy of a world-class city like San Diego.

BikeSD Inc, is a 501(c)(4) California corporation. Our Endorsement Policy is available for you to read here. Please consider becoming a member or renewing your support so that we can elect strong leaders that will implement our vision in office.